Fathers, Work and No Family: What I Learned From My Week Alone

Amy and Nick are spending the week out in California, visiting her brother and his family. Because my semester starts next week, I had to stay home to ramp up my class preparation and attend too many meetings.

Home alone...
Home alone…

This means I am in the middle of a week with pretty much no family responsibilities or time constraints. As I most often write about balancing fatherhood with work and other life roles, I am finding this family-free time to be an interesting experiment.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far from this experience.

  • I am not working as efficiently as I usually do, but I am getting a lot more work done because I have so many more hours to devote to work
  • I am having more creative ideas as I have more large chunks of time to devote to single tasks and a lot more quiet time
  • I am exercising way more- each day this week, I have walked/hiked/ran at least 3 miles or biked at least 6. I hardly ever find the time to do so in my normal life
  • Thanks to my biking/hiking/walking/jogging, I am gaining a deeper appreciation of how beautiful things are where I live. These views are from trails¬†within 3 miles of my house!
  • I can do things at different times. I watched some tv during the day, exercised at night and worked in the late night hours. This seems to suit my internal clock, which is sadly, way out of step with the normal work or school schedule
  • I am eating far worse- takeout Chinese the past two days
  • I have more time for friends and social life
  • Unfortunately, they don’t have any more time for me. My attempts to set up dinner/drinks plans with high school, college and facebook friends have failed. Happily, my best friend from the neighborhood is also flying solo this week- staying home from work while his wife and kids are at the beach- we’ve gotten together for dinner and drinks, and exercised together
  • I’m not making the stinkin’ bed, and Amy can’t make me!
  • I’m listening to a lot more music- Pandora, satellite radio, even an actual CD
  • I’m enjoying driving our nicer car with the satellite radio and all
  • Facetime and phone calls help, but…
  • I miss Amy and Nick terribly
I miss you guys. Come home soon!
I miss you guys. Come home soon!

I haven’t had a week without family responsibility* since, well, when Amy and I first got serious in 2001. While it is nice to get a Hot Tub Time Machine-esque week’s vacation back to my old bachelor’s life, I’d rather have my stressed, pressed, sometimes crazed work-family juggle back. And for that, I need my family. Come home soon, guys- I miss the noise and dust and clutter!

Have any of you had long solo stints? What did you enjoy and what did you miss? let’s discuss in the comments section.

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*Yes, I have travelled for work (including 12 days in China) and gone to conferences, but these were family-free times during which I was the one who was away. Psychologically, it feels way different.

11 thoughts on “Fathers, Work and No Family: What I Learned From My Week Alone

  1. Pretty good observations Scott. My productivity tops when I have home, church and work happening in full swing (I am a business consultant during the week, a volunteer/speaker at church some weekends, a dad to two boys and a husband all around). I long for a break but a lot gets done very efficiently. When I get the dad breaks occasionally I tend to waste time and do less useful and less productive tasks like watching too many movies or spending too many hours on the internet. I also find it hard to get back to the productive, busy routine after a wasteful break. I am definitely a better worker when the family is around.

  2. I often have solo stints.. and I share many of the same thoughts above.
    – I exercise more..
    – I watch ALOT more tv ..
    – I don’t feel remotely as rushed…
    – Spend more time on the internet.. not entirely wasteful
    – I sleep less.. but I do sleep better. I always feel like my senses are “on” when the kids are around
    – I try to meet up with friends, but you then realize just because I have an abundance of time.. it does not mean THEY have it..
    – I get lonely as heck..
    – Yeah.. I like the relaxation every now and then.. but I miss them tons.

  3. Since my kids started being born 7 years ago other than the very odd night away for work I’ve never been home alone for more than a few hrs during the day. You’re a lucky man to experience it.

  4. Dear Scott,

    I prefer the relative privacy of e-mail…

    Attached are a few pieces that may be of interest — you may want to read them in reverse order of how they’re attached).

    I’m based in the greater DC area, my primary work (REEL FATHERS, http://www.reelfathers.org) is in NM, and I visit the NYC area regularly (approx. monthly) for exuberant granddaddying.

    It might be worth our time to compare notes in person sometime — I still prefer those eyeball visits.

    Let me know if you’ve got any interest — perhaps we can meet in NYC sometime before I head up to Westchester County… Of course, if you get to the DC area, that would be even better. And I’m not averse to beginning w/ a telephone call.

    Thanks for what you’re doing to heighten attention to the importance of *daddying* ~ Allan * being a dad is not something you are, it’s something you do!* *Founder & President* *REEL FATHERS* *and* *Leadership Team * *NM Alliance for Fathers& Families*

  5. I know what you mean about productivity when there aren’t as many people around – I’m like that during times of year when I go into my office but not many colleagues are around.

    When my wife and son are away, I sometimes take advantage of the opportunity to watch films or comedy DVDs that I know my wife wouldn’t be as keen on.

  6. A few weeks ago, I had a wife-and-childless week, but I was still working full time for the week. I found myself working intensly both at work and at home, so rather than it being a break, nearly led me to burn-out. But then, I’m trying to start a Coaching business on the side of my full time job, so there’s just double the amount of “work”. Not to mention the guilt at not cleaning the house while our 3 year old tornado was out, simply becuase I could have cleaned without it instantly becomming a mess again. The best break I had was when I was home with my wife this summer for a week (our daughter was out of town with her grandma), and we did some work together on another project but at a really sustainable pace, and we made sure to take time to go out for walks and meals which was really relaxing. I think if I’m left to my own devices, I just try to over program my time.

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