CNN and CareerBuilder.com recently published the results of their Mother’s Day survey, titled “What working moms miss and wish for.” The data  was interesting although not terribly surprising. Most working moms want more time with our kids. We’d trade good money for it. Over 50% of moms in dual-career households would stay home if we could afford to financially. This is news? The findings were followed by a helpful and simultaneously completely condescending tip sheet on “How to Make it Work.” Here are the five tips for working moms:
1. Incorporate telecommuting into your workday.
2. Use one calendar for all appointments.
3. Make your family a priority.
4. Take it easy.
5. Let others do their share.
A fine list. But what I found most interesting is imagining why, as we lead up to Father’s Day, our husbands don’t get these surveys and little tip sheets about “What Working Dads Miss and Wish For.” Probably for pretty much the same reason self-help magazines abound for women and for men not so much. In other words, because in our culture women need fixing and men don’t. What I wish for, just once, is radio silence on how we moms need to do it all better, faster, more efficiently. What does it say about societal pressure on moms that we don’t have a tip sheet for the working daddies? So just in time for Father’s Day on June 15, let’s create our own tip sheet, so that dads can be better fathers, husbands and partners. For those of us who’ve not partnered up, your insights may be even more, um, insightful, given your objectivity. So please weigh in! Here’s the same “Making It Work” list – for dads. I left in the condescending stuff from the original CNN/CareerBuilder tip sheet for working moms, so please don’t blame me for how snarky this sounds. Amazing how accepting we can be of condescending advice for women, and how instantly insulting it sounds simply by switching the gender.
How to Make Working Fatherhood Work:
Although raising children while holding a job outside of the home will always be a challenge, here are some steps you can take ease the pressure of being a working dad and loving, supportive husband.
1. Incorporate telecommuting into your workday. Many companies hypothetically allow their employees to work from home one or more days per week, which is an easy way for you to spend more time at home in the morning and afternoon with your children rather than in standstill traffic. Give it a try – maybe if more men telecommute, companies will take the option seriously and not penalize women who telecommute by accusing them of lacking ambition and commitment to their careers.
2. Use one calendar for all appointments. No, not your golf game and the next NASCAR race! Family appointments. You know, immunizations and annual checkups for each kid? Your wife’s birthday? Mother’s Day? Your upcoming business trips – so the whole family knows you’re going away before you actually hit the airport? Putting all appointments -- whether they involve the office or the family -- on one calendar makes it easier to avoid scheduling conflicts and missing personal appointments like your four-year-old’s annual field trip and your 10th wedding anniversary. You'll also be able to notice if you're spending more time on work than on family with a quick glance at the calendar.
3. Make your family a priority. We know this is contrary to nearly every social message you’ve received in your lifetime, so you can be forgiven for forgetting to show it. Try this one: devote your weekends and any free weekday evenings to family activities. Even if you can't plan on seeing your family this week, make a quick phone call to your children, wife or nanny to remind them of how much you appreciate them.
4. Take it easy. Work can become so hectic and absorbing that you forget that you actually have a family you like and enjoy spending time with. Leave some free time to relax and regroup between your meetings, business trips and networking functions so your family is not in a constant state of stress wondering where you are and when you are coming home.
5. Don’t let others do more than their share. Although your wife, mother, secretary and all the women in your life may seem happy to do all the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, diaper changing and cleaning of the toilets, as well as filling in for every kid’s recital or soccer game you have to miss, maybe they’ve just been socialized for centuries to put a smile on an otherwise unfair division of labor. Make sure you take on some responsibility at home in addition to the office. You might be tempted to do nothing yourself, but this will only stress everyone out. Although you’ve spent a lifetime honing those management skills and delegating responsibility, doing your fair share will ease your workload and allow your staff…um, wife and kids…to develop other skills.
We love ya, Dad! And we could love you even more if our culture divvied up the pressure for juggling work and family a tad more evenly. Happy Father’s Day!