No Time to Be a Father: The Struggle to Balance Life and Work

No Time to Be a Father: The Struggle to Balance Life and Workfeatured

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Last year on Father’s Day, I wrote about some big ideas that I feel are vital to being a good father. This year’s Father’s Day thoughts are focused on my struggles in balancing work with my relationships to my children.

Click to hear the audio version of this post.

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One of the reasons that we moved to the country from main street was to be able to spend time as a family in a beautiful and peaceful place. I was working between 5 and 7 days a week then (sometimes upwards of 12 hour days), and there were many days while Camdyn was a baby that I either didn’t see her at all, or just had time to kiss her before she went to sleep. The lack of time that I was able to spend with my daughter hurt our relationship for quite awhile. There was a time when this made her cold toward me.

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With my current job, I go to work four days a week with a three day weekend. I love that I am able to spend more time with my girls (our second daughter, Avonlee was born less than a year after we moved). Cami Grace has warmed up to me now, and I am much closer to both of my girls.

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But between the blog, the shop, and renovating our farmhouse, the girls can sometimes take a backseat. So this Father’s Day, I am wrestling with how to balance all of these things while giving my girls the love that they need, and it is really frustrating me.

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Someone might sagely say here that this is why you shouldn’t renovate a house with small children. Maybe they are right, but at this point we are in neck deep and the only direction to go is forward. Someone could also say that starting a business right now is a bad idea, because there is too much going on. But when you put off your dreams until there is time, you will probably never get around to them. So Sara and I have decided to start now using the time that we have and slowly build toward our goals.

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Balance. What does it even mean, anyway?

In Creativity, Inc., Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull tells how he has had a revolutionary change in the way that he understands “balance”. The concepts that he had earlier in life were like someone standing on a seesaw with a foot on each side of the pivot point keeping the board level. But as his understanding of life deepened, he began to see balance as being more like a surfer desperately trying to remain standing as a wave is crashing around him, or like a football player who remains upright even though he keeps getting hit.

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When I asked my pastor who has six boys—including 2-year-old triplets—recently how he keeps life in balance, he said that usually right when he gets to a sweet spot, life changes and he has to start over trying to get it back.

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So, I guess the point is that to really do the things in life that matter there will always be a struggle. Relationships are a struggle. Renovation is a struggle. Art is a struggle. Spirituality is a struggle.

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By struggle I don’t mean that they are something bad. I mean that they require effort and focus. Everything in life that counts takes fight. Sometimes you have to fight against the obsessive feeling that you should be getting such-and-such done and—with effort—slow down.

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Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper were asked recently how they keep everything in balance with four children and an ever expanding group of businesses. They said that they really don’t. Chip said that while they have a very hard time making a schedule and sticking to it, their childrens’ baseball games and gymnastics events are non-negotiable. Family time stays on the schedule.

So, I guess you could say that they stopped trying to find a perfect balance, and that they have instead focused on fighting to keep family a priority.

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Today, I spent some time laying on the floor next to Avee as she and Cami Grace played in the playhouse. It was a really sweet bonding time (until Avee tried to gouge my eye out with a toy spoon). Aside from leaving myself so vulnerable to the random acts of violence of a one year old, this is something that I should be doing more often. Sara and I have to really focus sometimes on Not talking about the farmhouse, the blog, the shop, etc., and just play with our two adorable girls.

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It’s freeing to stop worrying about all of the things that we need to get done for awhile and just enter their world. Many days it will require effort to look my little ones in their eyes when I talk to them, instead of talking while my eyes are on some project or email or whatever.

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So today, whether it’s Father’s Day or not, I encourage you to put aside your to-do list and hobbies for a moment, and find something that your kids love doing. Then do it with them wholeheartedly.

You won’t regret it,

Happy Father’s Day

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Click link to read last year’s Father’s Day post: My Princesses

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