Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.


These moves included asking for flexible working, as well as more practical issues like introducing their partner at an office party. The study found that there were additional difficulties with gaining work/life balance for same-sex couples, and that they:

"...experience a range of additional conflicts related to their stigmatized family identity. These include a sense of tension over whether to take advantage of family-related benefits for fear of revealing their same-sex relationship, feeling conflicted over whether to bring spouses to work events, and feeling uneasy about discussing with a supervisor the family-related challenges that impact their work life."

That's just looking at the issue on a general level. Add children to the mix, and you're looking at a very complex issue. But if you don't get the balance, no one wins.

There is a way to make your home and work life join together harmoniously, and it involves thinking about the following tips.

1. Take stock of your work situation

Before the whole thing seems like it's impossible, take stock of what is actually happening at your workplace. There may be more opportunities than you think. This could mean that you are missing out on easy ways to balance out the time you spend at work and the time you spend at home with children.

It's important to see how the land lies in your workplace. For example, you may not be the only dad who wants more flexible working. There may have been examples of where the boss has allowed dads to leave early on certain days of the week. Or maybe some dads have found they could arrange a little telecommuting for a while. You won't know until you ask.

Work out what the possibilities are before you try anything else. You may find work itself can offer you some kind of balance.

Gay dads in particular may face difficulty in getting any flexibility. Knowing the situation behind that kind of process can help you work out a strategy to get the best out of the system. Knowing your rights will make you more confident when trying to arrange leave.

Before you make a request for flexible working:

  • Make sure you have planned it. Be prepared to explain to your employer exactly how you think it should work. Being organized will probably increase your chances of getting what you want
  • Discuss it with your colleagues first if you can. It's always best to have some support among your team
  • Make sure you are willing to negotiate. There may well be an opportunity for flexibility, but it may take a different form than the plan you imagined
  • Work out any possible objections your employer may have, and be ready to deal with them
  • Make some notes first. It's always helpful to have some kind of note structure to guide your discussion

2. Talk with your partner (if you have one)

Whatever your partner's situation, they're involved. Spend some time talking things through with them. The more you talk, the less stressful it will be. Any changes you make will most likely be shared, and at the least, they will come after some discussion that has allowed you both to understand each other more.

It's also worth noting that, however the discussion works out, there is likely to be a change in circumstances and wishes moving forward. Your life will change as children grow older. These changes could end up making any initial flexible working arrangements very different as a child grows up. An Australian study found that time was a major influence on any changes on initial arrangements.

"Responses indicated a willingness among couples to renegotiate their arrangements over time as their children grew older, income levels changed, or to give each partner an opportunity both to care for the children and to work…"

Life does change arrangements, and you may find that arrangements become more fluid over time.

3. Figure out what you can afford

Right after that talk (or during it) the practical side will come up. Unless you know exactly how your money dominates things, you can't move forward. Before you make any changes that are supposed to give you more work/life balance, assess the financial situation.

You may find you have limited options, or that you have more options than you think. For example, it may be the case that you can afford to have a late start on a Friday morning, or an afternoon off work. You won't know until you've had a good look at the finances.

4. Find time during your week for 'down time' with your family

Take a look at the week ahead of you. The working week is not necessarily a done deal, and there is always scope for making it more family-focused. Pick out one or two spots in the week where you devote time to being with the people you love.

For example, it's often possible to have a movie night. Or even a 'date night' with your partner. Once you commit to finding the time, you'll be surprised how easy it is to schedule things.

Start with small things, and make them happen. You'll be thankful, as your week starts to feel like something you can get comfortable in.

5. Eat well, exercise, and sleep (We know, we know...)

Work/life balance can only be possible if you have the energy and the mental fitness to enjoy it. This means ensuring that you take care of yourself as well. It really pays off if you are well and healthy. Basically, you'll be able to enjoy time at home more, and your work won't suffer. You can't feel like that if you aren't well.

Organize regular exercise every week. Eat well and sleep (we know, with a little one that can be tricky) when you need it. Otherwise, that balance just won't happen.

6. Eat together

Soul kitchen concept

This is something that is definitely not what it used to be. These days, families rarely eat together. It's a lot easier to put in some extra time on your workload than it is to sit down and eat with your loved ones.

Being with your partner and children (no matter how young they are) when you eat is an extremely positive step. Perhaps a good talk about the day's events can take place. You can also 'switch off' when you're at the dinner table. One good tip here is to ensure that everyone is around the dinner table at a certain time every night (you will have to check your schedule for this though, to make sure it is viable). Once you are all around the table, you can enjoy being a family and spending time together.

Which reminds us…

7. Turn off the tech

Work/life balance is achievable without distractions. With distractions, you're making something already difficult into a ridiculously challenging experience.

Make it a rule that phones aren't allowed at the dinner table. Turn your phone off in the evening and focus on the important things. While it may not be possible to switch your phone off (you may have a work phone), it is certainly reasonable to keep them away from the dinner table.

Work up from there. The less tech there is in the evening, the more likely you will be able to spend time together. You cannot do it all in one step, but find little pockets of time here and there, and soon your distractions and your stress will be lessened.

8. Remember: Your Weekends are Sacred

While some jobs demand weekend work, with a family work should ideally be avoided at weekends. The best way to make sure that you gain more time at weekends with children is to work incredibly hard during the week. That way you won't have a ton of emails to take home and sift through.

If that is too much of a stress, and you feel some work has to be done at weekends, start small and look at every two weeks (where you take a work-free weekend). Achieving that work/life balance is more important than you think, and committing to family life is one aspect you really need to nail down.

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

A Gay Dad Wonders: What Will the 'Roaring Twenties' Bring?

Jim Joseph says he's looking forward to "moving forward in 2020" and in the decade to come!

The Roaring Twenties are upon us, and with the new decade comes great anticipation.

I remember as a kid that whenever a new decade came, it felt like "out with the old and in with the new." It seemed like pop culture and the way of doing things suddenly shifted. Witness 1979 into 1980 and the dawn of a new era in music, fashion, entertainment, and culture. Same with 1989 into 1990. Bam!

As I got older and started my own journey of growth, I started tracking decades by the milestones I had hit during each of the ten-year increments.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Life

Sir Elton John Announces End of Touring to Spend More Time with His Children

Sir Elton John announced an end to his touring days at a concert in Lost Angeles to spend more time with his husband and his sons.

Sir Elton John, who is 71 years old, announced at the end of his show at the Los Angele Staples Center that he will no longer be touring. The reason? To spend more time with his "beautiful" children, Zachary and Elijah, who are seven and five respectively.

"Through all the wonderful years, all those millions of memories, I've had so much applause for a million lifetimes," John said. "And the reason I'm stopping because my life has changed now I have beautiful children, I want to be with them."

According to an article in the Daily Mail, John had warned this was coming. "My life revolves around them now," he said in a previous interview. "Taking them to school, getting them to bed, being there for them, being there at weekends."

But fear not, Rocket Man fans. John isn't saying goodbye to performing, just touring. "It's not that I don't want to play again...but I don't know when I'm ever going to tour."

Gay Dad Life

When it Comes to "Work-Life" Balance, How Do Kids Tip the Scale?

Our latest episode of the podcast "Daddy Square" tackles the age old question of how best to achieve "work-life" balance once kids enter the picture.

It's very much in vogue to talk about "work-life balance." And if ever the question of that balance was most important – and difficult – it's when babies and kids enter the picture. This week we interviewed Mike Stommel, who seems to have figured this out pretty well, to tell us what worked for him and his family, what didn't, and how it's evolved over time. And as an added bonus, your hosts had a thinly veiled fight on-air about how it's working (or not) for them. What more could you ask for?!

"I try to follow routine. I think for us is about trying to find the balance between work life and spending quality time with the kids during the weekdays as well," says Mike Stommel, founder and principal of Lucky Break PR firm, a hard working dad. "I think that when they were newborns it was much easier. As they get older you have much more responsibility for their activities."
Mike says that after the age of 6 it's really important to keep a balance of trying to put the phone down, put the computer away and focus on "not-in-front-of-screen" activities, like cooking dinner, working with kids on homework or working on after school activities.

"My 10 year old is acutely aware of how much time I spend on my phone or my computer," he says. "I think that for the longest time she'd like to say that I didn't work, I just stared on my computer all day… and I'm like, 'honey that is work, I work for my computer.' so I think for her she's always asking why I'm always working and I feel like when I give her response it sometimes it's something like my parents would say. ('you like nice things don't you?!). I do feel a little bad, I think again It's finding balance and making sure that I take time off, I disconnect from electronics, I do dinner, I cook dinner pretty much every night, I sit down, do homework with them…"

Mike shares his hard work on finding the work-home balance. "Kids are taxing," he says, "it's difficult sometimes it's exhausting. It's also extremely rewarding. It's about finding a balance, it's about getting someone to watch your kids so you can go out and have drinks with friends and actually have adult time and balance out baby time. I think it's all about prioritizing and having that support system. Friends and family it's hugely important."

"If you are two parents and you are raising kids – get on the same page and never let the kids see you separated, especially as the kids get older. Especially it's about managing the kids and being consistent."



About Mike Stommel: Founder & Principal, Lucky Break Public Relations. Mike is a seasoned media professional with nearly two decades of experience leading high-impact PR campaigns for some of the nation's most established and respected brands. A coastal Virginia native, Mike grew up in a rural area with his parents and three sisters. Following his graduation from Virginia Tech, Mike moved to Los Angeles, California eventually meeting his now husband of 17 years. Mike enjoys a healthy balance of work and family life as a husband, father of two young children, and the founder of a thriving national communications firm. A frequent traveler for both work and leisure, Mike maintains an active lifestyle whether it is hitting his local CrossFit gym or supporting his children on the sidelines of weekend youth sports leagues, enjoying a family day at the beach or riding bikes around Los Angeles. Mike is an avid supporter of LGBTQ causes and is passionate advocate for LA's homeless youth.

Episode Credits:

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen
Guest: Mike Stommel, Lucky Break Public Relations
Opening Theme: Hercules & Love Affair, "Leonora" buy here

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

Keep reading...
News

Gay Dads Show Up at Boston Event to Drown Out Anti-Trans Protesters

When Trystan Reese found out protesters were planning to show up to an event in Boston he was presenting at, he put out a call to his community for help — and gay dads showed up.

A couple months ago, Trystan Reese, a gay, trans dad based in Portland, Oregon, took to Instagram to share a moving, if incredibly concerning, experience. Reese, who works with Family Equality Council, was speaking at an event in Boston, and learned before his appearance that a group of protesters were planning to attend.

"As a trans person, I was terrified to be targeted by anti-LGBTQ people and experienced genuine fear for my own safety," Trystan wrote. In response, he did what many LGBTQ people would do in a similar situation — reach out to his community in Boston, and ask for their support. "And they came," he wrote. But it wasn't just anyone within the LGBTQ community that came to his defense, he emphasized — "you know who came? Gay men. Gay dads, to be exact. They came, ready to block people from coming in, ready to call building security, ready to protect me so I could lead my event. They did it without question and without reward. They did it because it was the right thing to do."

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse