Striking the right balance between family life and paid work is pretty crucial when you’re a dad. And there are as many ways to do it as there are different families. We talk to four dads about how they found a solution, from finishing half an hour early to staying at home full-time.
When James changed jobs he knew he would be faced with a longer commute. “Before, I could walk to work and pop home for my lunch, so it was a shock to the system having to commute again. My partner had just got a new job as well so life was going to get more chaotic”.
James is the main wage earner so couldn’t afford to cut his hours. “I set off half an hour early and miss the traffic while my partner takes our son to school. That means I can get off early and pick him up from the childminder so we can all sit down to tea together when she gets home”.
“I’m lucky in that I can also work from home sometimes,” he adds, “So I can be there to help out with inset days and doctors appointments.”
Redundancy was the spark for Prash to make changes in his life. “I had thought about doing some self employed work for a while, but the instability put me off. When they announced a round of redundancies at my work, although I wasn’t affected I realised that no job was forever.”
He set up his catering business starting with parties in his spare time, but it quickly became successful enough for him to give up the day job. “You are your own boss,” he says, “but on the other hand it’s up to you to keep the business running.”
“I can choose to work less when the kids need me, like during their SATs, but when I do work I work hard.”
David requested to work a three-day week, job sharing with a colleague who wanted a short week when she returned from maternity leave.
“My ex-wife has the kids Sunday to Wednesday; I have them Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It means she can work as well, so everyone’s better off.”
He admits there’s a financial cost. “It’s a bit of a struggle, I have to think twice before getting takeaway, but it’s worth it to have that quality time with them”.
When Phillip was made redundant he was worried about money, but then his wife was promoted. “Her wage went up and things weren’t too bad financially,” he says, “We sat down and had a look at our finances and nursery costs ate up most of the wage I could earn.”
“She said, ‘How do you feel about being a househusband?’ I laughed, but that was a eureka moment. My dad thinks I’m barmy and I worry sometimes about falling behind in my career, but I’m really privileged to spend this time with the kids when they are so young.”
His top tip? “Make sure you get some adult conversation by meeting up with mates when you can!”