School’s Out For Summer! (on the mixed blessing of school vacation for working parents)

School summer vacation can be a great time for downtime. But this extra time can also be too much of a good thing, leading to too much screen time for both dads and kids. I need your help!

This summer, I want to spend time doing this...
This summer, I want to spend more time doing this…

I’m technically not employed by FDU for the summer (although I always have class prep and, of course, writing to do). So, I am so incredibly lucky to be home to share the summer with Nick. Nick just ended third grade (where does the time go!), and Amy’s both rehearsing a show and directing a youth theater program. Nick will be going to a local camp from 9-3 on Tuesdays through Thursdays and has gymnastics on Monday and Friday afternoons. This means lots more me-and-Nick time, which is 95% awesome, with a small downside.

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Beer Fire! Networking for Fatherhood (from the FWF vault)

Too many dads feel alone in their work-family struggles. If we spent the time on building informal support networks with fellow dads, we’d be better able to help each other. Here’s one way we do this in my neighborhood, and suggestions on how you can network for fatherhood.

Beer Fire! A fun a useful way to network with other dads
Beer Fire! A fun a useful way to network with other dads

(While I am away on a short family vacation, I thought it would be nice to post a favorite FWF article of mine from the very first week of the blog. Enjoy!)

My friend and neighbor, Francesco, who is a terrific dad, (and, more importantly, a loyal blog reader!), has a semi-regular tradition of inviting his local guy friends to hang out by the fire pit in his backyard with a cooler full of beer. We’ve come to calling this brilliant innovation BEER FIRE!

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Hey Dads! This Christmas, Give the Gift of You

Our kids may want things, but they NEED time with their fathers more. This Christmas, instead of stuff, we should give our kids the opportunities to do more fun things with us. Here are a few ideas how.

Christmas is a special time for kids, but we can also use it as a way to build in more dad-and-kid time throughout the year
Christmas is a special time for kids, but we can also use it as a way to build in more dad-and-kid time throughout the year

A while ago, I wrote a piece (the most popular FWF post of 2013) in which I asked a bunch of dads how they want their kids to remember their dads and childhoods. The clear and consistent response was that dads wanted, more than anything, to be remembered as a constant, loving presence in their kids’ lives.

Buying the things on our kids’ Christmas lists is good and all, but it doesn’t really do anything to further this goal of building a childhood full of happy Dad-and-Kid memories that they can hold onto through their lives. Using Christmas as a way to purchase things that create opportunities for time together can. Here are a few suggestions:

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Escaping the Middle-Class Parenting Trap

What one stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) and his family are doing to create a better long-term work-family balance, with all the trade-offs and sacrifices this entails.

A few months ago, Oren Miller wrote the following on his excellent blog, A Father and a Blogger. He was nice enough to let me repost it here, and even provided a short follow up to the article. He’s a great writer, and a good fellow-dad-blogger friend. Enjoy:

Escaping the Middle-Class Parenting Trap

Guest blogger Oren MIller shares his work-life story
Guest blogger Oren MIller shares his work-life story

Our family is going through some difficult changes now.

To escape our ironic lifestyle, to be able to see her kids more than a tired hour per day, my wife has found a new job. This job will allow her to work from home a lot, which is the good part. The bad part is that there will probably be a lot of travel, too. And the worst part is that now, because it’s a new job, she must leave home and travel to the end of the world (Seattle), and stay there for a couple of weeks (then return to Baltimore for a week, then again to Seattle for even longer).

It’s not going to be easy for me, it’s not going to be easy for the kids, and it’s definitely not going to be easy for my wife, who will have to settle for Skype to see her kids.

But it’s worth it.

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The Challenges and Opportunities of Fathers, Work and Family, All in One Awesome Graphic

Fathers are more involved than ever. Fathers continue to face intense work pressures, inflexible workplace expectations- and are now feeling increased work-family imbalance and stress. A fantastic graphic from the NYC Dads Group and What to Expect shows the challenges men face today. The graphic illustrates why I am so passionate about fathers’ work-family challenges and the work we all need to do.

Welcome Thursday with Thirdpath Callers!

The guys at NYC Dads Group do incredible work. They have over 700 members throughout New York City- dads helping dads through peer support, new dad boot camps, meet-ups, podcasts, a great blog, and- nearest and dearest to my heart- information and resources for dads all over the country to start and grow their own dads groups (although I would rebrand them as BEER FIRES!)

NYC Dads Group recently partnered up with What to Expect, did some research on factors affecting fathers today (using valid data sources like Boston College’s “New Dads” study, Pew Surveys, and the Families and Work Institute), and presented the issues in one stunningly brilliant infographic. Here it is:

Please click "read more" to see this entire great infographic
Please click “read more” to see this entire great infographic

(full picture after the jump)

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How We Maintained Work-Family Balance During a Spike in Work Demands

About two months ago, I wrote about my wife’s new show, and how her work hours would spike for several weeks. I discussed our family’s plan for handling this time period, considering my work commitments and increased duties at home. The show is over, so now it’s time to see how we did, and what lessons we learned.

My wife's career as a stage actress has led to lots of cool experiences, funny costumes, and work-family juggling
My wife’s career as a stage actress has led to lots of cool experiences, funny costumes, and work-family juggling

(On Monday, I’ll be commenting on this week’s Pew Study’s findings on breadwinning moms and dual-career couples- SB)

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that my incredible wife Amy is a musical theater actress, and, depending on the project, her work schedule is often demanding, haphazard, inconvenient and inflexible.

About two months ago, Amy began work on an excellent new play, “The English Bride”. The play was very well-received (see this review!), so much so that it will run at the 59 E59 Theater off-Broadway, NYC in the Fall.

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Making Memes: Staying Connected To My Son While Away On Business Travel

Little things mean a lot. Here’s a small silly thing I did to stay connected with my son while away on business travel.

meme2
Making memes is a silly little thing Nick and I do together, so I made him some memes while I was away on business

Last week, Jason Swann wrote a guest post here with some great advice about staying connected with your kids while traveling for work. (see here for his fun blog)

After describing the rhythms of his household before and during his travel, Jason provided some great advice:

The point is, dads, we are missed. A lot. A WHOLE lot. I read on a post recently that a dad has four girls that make him feel like a member of the Beatles when he gets home. We’re all rock stars to our children, and we can take care of our “fans” by taking a bit of care with how we leave them for our work trips. It will pay dividends in the end to pay attention to how we deal with being gone, as our little ones are dealing with us being gone. So I’ve looked around the web, read, asked, cajoled, and uncovered to find what we can do when we have to be away. The list is organic, so use or don’t, add to or take away.

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Huggies Have “Come A Long Way, Baby” in Depicting Fathers

In one year, Huggies’ advertising went from depicting dads as incompetent boobs to depicting them as capable involved parents. Here’s a brief analysis of how and why they made the change.

What a difference a year makes!

That was then:

ABC News' coverage of Huggies March 2012 ads that depicted dads as "hapless and hopeless in caring for their babies"
ABC News’ coverage of Huggies’ March 2012 ads that depicted dads as “hapless and hopeless in caring for their babies” (click on the picture to watch the piece)

Way back in the Stone Age of March 2012, Huggies ran some ads to show that their diapers could stand up to the “toughest test”- incompetent bumbling dads who don’t know the first thing about caring for kids or changing diapers- after all, they are too busy watching sports and being dumb to be competent. They also built a facebook campaign around getting women to test out Huggies with their incompetent husbands for 5 days and share their stories.

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Taking My Own Advice on Fatherhood, Work and Family (or, helping my wife Lean In)

My wife just started a new show, leaving me to shoulder the load for a while so I can help her “Lean In” to her career. Four ways our family is preparing, plus a plea for advice.

My wife's career as a stage actress has led to lots of cool experiences, funny costumes, and work-family juggling
My wife’s career as a stage actress has led to lots of cool experiences, funny costumes, and work-family juggling

I’ve written before about my wife’s career as a stage actress and the work-family challenges it presents:.

Amy is a musical theater actress, and her work schedule is demanding, haphazard, inconvenient and inflexible (but, even in her brutally competitive field, she is talented enough to be working all the time!).  If she’s called for an audition, it is often scheduled for tomorrow! and it cannot be rescheduled to fit her preferences.

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Recent Pew Survey Shows Progress and Challenges for Dads’ Work-Family Balance

Recent surveys show that more dads are stepping up at home, while maintaining their commitments to their careers. In many ways, this marks progress, but also presents challenges to involved working dads. How can we better handle these challenges?

A slideshow of Pew’s Findings:
Modern Parenthood
Men Are Committed to Both Work and Family

There is growing evidence from the recently released Pew Research Center study of parenthood, as well as from Boston College’s Center for Work and Family and the Families and Work Institute that men are facing increasing work-family conflict and stress as they expand their involvement in the home and with their kids, but continue to feel pressure to provide and to stay fully dedicated to their employers.

In some ways, it is the converse of what working women have been facing for some time. Men are expanding their commitment to home, while facing pressure to maintain their time and commitment in the workplace- in short, men face many of the same challenges as women in terms of “having it all”.

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A Working Parent’s Guide to Surviving a Snow Day

When you have two working parents, unexpected days without school can really put you out. Snow days are awesome for kids. Not so for parents. By planning ahead, we can make them easier for us to handle.

Snow days are great for kids, but not so much for working parents!
Snow days are great for kids, but not so much for working parents!

Dear God, Don’t Let Them Cancel School!

Not long ago, I was awoken at 5am by the home telephone. Considering the time, and since no one (except my mom or telemerketers) calls me on the home phone, my disorientation turned to dread as I saw that it had begun to snow overnight. Before I could reach the phone, the answering machine picked up and I heard:

“This is an important message from the Nyack school district. Classes are cancelled for the day”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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Taking Turns to Balance Work and Family

“Sharing Experiences” is a series of posts in which a variety of dads, all in different work-family situations, share their experiences. I hope this series can forward the important conversations we have here, and spark ideas we can apply to our own lives.

Guest blogger, Erik Eddy and his wife Margie and son Jackson.
Guest blogger, Erik Eddy and his wife Margie and son Jackson.

Supporting Each Other’s Careers By Taking Turns

In kindergarten, we learn the importance of sharing and taking turns. Erik and Margie Eddy took this lesson and built a successful family life

By Erik Eddy, as told to Scott Behson

My wife, Margie, and I met in college, and got married the year she graduated. She decided to pursue a Masters degree in Higher Education from Bowling Green State University, so I tailed along and enrolled in their MBA program. We were young, in love and completely poor. Somehow, we managed to get by on a $9000 stipend and a $7500 student loan for the two years it took to complete our degrees.

When Margie finished her program, one of my business professors approached me about following her to the PhD program she was joining at SUNY Albany.  After talking it through with Margie, we went off to Albany where I pursued my PhD while Margie began her career as an Assistant Dean of Students at Smith College. At this point, she was working to support me as I continued my education.

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