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It’s About Time: Balancing Dad, Hubby, and Professional Means Being Intentional About Your Schedule

Becoming a dad is riddled with what you might call “new rug” moments. When you put down a new rug in your house, for the first few weeks, you’re always tripping over the stupid thing. You stumble, swear, and vow that next time you’ll remember it’s there. Then you trip again.

But eventually, your brain digs a new neural pathway and you stop tripping. You make the adjustment. That’s what managing time is like when you become a father. When you were solo or dating Future Baby Mama, time was plentiful. You only had to worry about yourself, your work, and having fun.

But then, here comes your baby. Now you not only have to divvy up childcare, but you also want to be there for your little one. You don’t want to be one of “those dads” who leave for work at 6:30 in the morning and get home at 8 p.m. just in time to say goodnight. Even when they go to their kid’s soccer game or school play, they’re on their phones the entire time, and you know their kids see it, know it, and resent it.

We feel bad for those dads, because they’re not going to have any of the memories that really matter: how their baby smelled after a bath, reading softly to a toddler curled up in the crook of their arm, helping with homework—the stuff that really matters. That sucks.

Not becoming one of those dads means that you can’t half-ass your time management. You might try to wing it, but you keep tripping over that damned rug. Time for an adjustment. You need to be intentional about your time and budget your time like you budget your money.

That means doing two important things:

  1. Allocating time to your priorities.
  2. Setting boundaries and sticking to them (within reason; more on that).

Allocating Time

Just like you budget for your mortgage payment, groceries, utility bills, and the rest, write down the main areas where you need to allocate time. Here are our five:

  1. Work Time—whatever you do to make a living
  2. Partner Time—sex, talking, just hanging out
  3. Helping—childcare, housework, errands
  4. Dad Time—homework, reading stories, playing catch
  5. You Time—working out, reading, chilling with your buddies

Map out a typical week and start plugging in the hours you’ll need to spend on each one of these each day. To be fair, all five are not created equal. You’ll need to go to work most days, and unless you enjoy the stink-eye, you should make time for dad duty and helping around the house every day. “You Time” and “Partner Time” probably won’t happen more than three or four times a week, and that’s fine. But plan them out. Write them down.

Setting Boundaries

Of course, budgeting your time means shit if you don’t stick to your budget. So set boundaries—rules, if you want to call them that—and let your partner know what they are so she can help you be accountable. For example:

  • “No bringing work home.”
  • “No TV after 9 p.m.”
  • “We cook together three nights a week.”

It’s simple stuff, but boundaries help define the standards that will help you be an awesome dad. Now, here comes the “within reason” part. You’re going to cheat on the “no bringing work home” thing from time to time. You’re going to drop the meat in the dirt on all your rules once in a while. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. Forgive yourself, then get right back in the saddle.

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February 12, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-68401-692-1
Available everywhere books are sold