I write a lot about working mums and though my posts are really for any working parents, I haven’t specifically written a post aimed at working dads before.
That’s not because I don’t care about working dads, I do (I have one living in my house!) but more because I can obviously relate to being a working mum.
I do think that working dads get forgotten about though. A lot is made of mums having to juggle work and the kids, and fighting for flexible working but it’s not easy for dads who work.
At school events and the school gates, there’s definitely a lack of dads in attendance and I’m sure for the majority of them it’s not because they can’t be bothered or don’t want to be there.
So I asked my husband and some other dads how they feel about being a working dad…
What are the hardest bits about being a working dad?
Husband: Feeling that you’re missing out on things while you’re at work. Not many dads go part-time which makes it harder to attend school events during the day. I feel guilty when I can’t get out of work to be there for school plays or sports days.
Also a lack of time to fit everything in. Sometimes during the week I only get to see Little H for an hour between getting home from work and her going to bed.
Geeky Dad from The Geeky Glass agrees “Working 40 hours a week only leaves weekends for any quality time and even that is cut short due to errands. My workplace is reasonably flexible as long as you do your full hours in the week. However, during busy periods, it’s not always possible to get a request accepted so we’ve had to rely on grandparents for emergencies.”
It’s not just mums who feel guilt over missing out due to work. The husband of Emma from #100DaysNoTV says “As a working dad I have a constant sense of guilt for not attending all school events, not being there for every drop-off and pick-up, and having left for work sometimes before they wake. Work-life balance has become a lot worse but expectations on parents of our generation are much greater. My dad worked away all week, we saw him only at weekends, but that was considered pretty normal in the 80s.”
Do you feel like you miss out on things because you have to work?
Husband: Yes. I’ve missed a lot of the assemblies and school plays because they’re held in the middle of the afternoon usually when I can’t get out of work. If there are events in the evening I can just about make it by rushing out of the office dead on 5:30.
Hayley from Winging It With Two Boys says – “My hubby works away Monday to Friday as a lorry driver – he’s told me he does feel like he’s missing out on the boys, he missed sports day, school nativity etc and hates that he can’t be there”
Sometimes you have to take the little amount of time that you can get. Adam from You’ve Got All This To Come says “I’m a full-time teacher who has been very lucky in that I’ve been able to take my daughter to/from the childminder near where I work. This means I’ve had loads of time in the car with her and have made real efforts to shift any school work till after they (now we have two!) have gone to bed. Means working late nights and it’s a bit non-stop from 6am-10pm but means I generally don’t miss out. I’m hoping to be given time to see the important school moments when the time comes as they won’t be attending the school I work at.”
Does your employer make it easy to have time off to go to school events or appointments?
Husband: My company doesn’t offer flexitime at all, however, if there was something important such as a hospital appointment they’d let me go but they’re as understanding when it comes to school events. If you can fit an appointment into your lunch break then you can go, but that’s not usually enough time to attend school events. My holiday allowance is low too, so booking a half day off for a school play isn’t usually do-able either as it wouldn’t leave enough annual leave for the school holidays.
Samantha who’s husband Steve blogs at Big Stevie Cool says “After 15 years of working there, Steve’s work has finally introduced flexitime which is going to be life changing for us as he can rarely get time off at the last minute and his holidays need to be planned and booked a year in advance. However, flexitime has been so popular, they’ve had to put a temporary ban on it”
It’s not all bad news though, Ross from Isablog says “I’ll be honest, as a postman, I’ve been fairly lucky that I finish quite early so I get to spend quite a lot of time with the family. The only real struggle I had was trying to arrange my days off to coincide with my wife at the beginning so I can have the baby whilst she’s in work. But all in all, I have to say that Royal Mail have been great.
We had a sit-down and I had the option to drop a day and my hours to go with it, then they basically gave me every Tuesday off as my wife has been given every Tuesday as one of her days. It’s been as good as I could’ve hoped for.”
What would you change about your work-life balance if you could?
Husband: Having some sort of flextime would allow me to attend any school events. Finishing earlier on a Friday to be able to pick Little H up from school at least once a week would be amazing. I’d be happy to start earlier or finish later if it meant I could do more.
Pete from Household Money Saving changed his role to give him more flexibility, he explains “I recently changed my role at work as my old department was so inflexible. I worked 10.5-hour shifts on a fixed rotation. If I wanted any time off, I had to book the whole day as leave. It meant that if I wanted to watch one of my kid’s assemblies or something similar, it would impact on my holiday later on in the year. Plus, I really needed to know 6 weeks in advance, which often didn’t happen”
Have you considered changing jobs to give you more flexibility with hours?
Husband: Yes! I’ve thought about finding a company who offer flexitime or remote working, but it’s easier said than done. It’s something I might look into more in the future, however, now Little H is 7 I feel I’ve already missed the majority of plays, assemblies etc at infant school.
Hannah from Hi Baby Blog’s husband changed jobs to allow him to spend more time with the family, she says “My partner changed jobs because his last place was so inflexible and not family friendly at all. He was never able to come to medical appointments and requests for leave were denied more often than granted. His new work is fantastic, a small company but everyone there works flexibly as the norm. They all have children and many of the male staff work condensed hours over three days to have more time off for childcare. Same goes for the mums. Matt just rearranged his schedule for a week in September so he can do the nursery drop off. Meeting staffs needs is a priority of the business and in return, they have a very loyal hard working team who appreciate the flexibility.”
Claire from This Mummy Rocks started a business with her husband to improve their work-life balance, she says “After myself and my husband never seeing each other due to our jobs and working around each other, we took the plunge and opened a childminding business. So we both work from home and are now home for our 5 children”
Tom sacrificed a big opportunity and set up Ideas4Dads in order to spend more time with his children, “Like many Dads, I have struggled with the ever moving challenge of balancing work and home life. Last week I made one of the boldest decisions I have ever made in my life and walked away from a multi-million-pound opportunity that would have been life changing to myself and my family. The sacrifice, however, would have been not being present in the most important formative years of my daughters for at least the next five years.”
Do you think that working mums get more help to balance family life than working dads?
Husband: I think it’s just more acceptable for mums to work part-time than it is for dads, so this offers them more opportunities to work around any appointments or events.
If you’re a working dad, how do you feel about balancing work and family life?