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Still having problems finding that balance?

Still having problems finding that balance?

June 18, 2009

Who do kids love more? Dad or Fido?

One of the things I love to do is coach my son's baseball team. No matter what kind of day I've had there's nothing better than stepping out on the field with the boys who want nothing more than to just have fun!

But I see many of us trying to be the 'do-it-all dad' and many of us are struggling. I have some ideas to help balance work and family that have worked for me and my clients I'll share in a moment, but first let me give you a cold dose of reality.

It's no surprise we're working longer hours than ever as the economy has worsened. The increased hours and the stress to increase sales, add new clients and get more done is taking a toll physically and mentally.

  • Men working more than 41 hours a week increase the risk of anxiety and depression by a whopping 38% among men compared to those who worked 40 hours or less, according to Norwegian study published today in the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).
  • Putting in more than 55 hours a week could also weaken your ability to remember things, concentrate and even increase your risk of dementia, according to research published by The Journal of American Epidemiology.
  • The risk of high blood pressure also increases 17% when working more than 40 hours a week. Putting in more than 50 hours a week? The risk of high blood pressure jumps 29%, according to study published in Hypertension.

But yet we continue to put in those hours, right? I do it too. I'm just as guilty as anyone. And at the end of the day we're still trying make time for those who matter most to us.

Perhaps we're too tough on ourselves as dads ' 55% of dads say they are doing a worse job parenting today than in the past, according to a 2007 Pew Research Center's Social Trends Survey. Fortunately, working moms don't agree with us on this issue. They say 70% of dads are doing as good or better than dads a generation ago.

We'll probably never be the ones who can offer 'motherly love.' When it comes to bonding and relationships dads don't rank too highly. Mother's Day ranks as the second most popular gift-giving holiday (behind Christmas). Many dads I know will be lucky to get a phone call this Father's Day.

Fido is in. Dad is out.

Pets outrank dads too, according to the Pew study. On average, pet owners gave higher relationship ratings to their cats and dogs compared with those given to fathers. Ouch!

Time to make a change guys! To help you strike a better a better balance between work and family here are some 'tough love' tips for you:

1. Schedule when you'll leave the office each day. You schedule meetings, appointments and tasks so why not schedule the fact that you're going to leave at 6 pm?

2. Ask someone you trust to hold you accountable. I recently worked with a client in which I made him a bet. He had to call me every day for one month as he was leaving the office at 6 pm to tell me he was walking out the door. If he didn't, he had to pay $100 to a charity of his choice. And if he did do it, I had to pay $100 to a charity of my choice.

3. Turn off the Blackberry and mobile phone while with your family! Don't cheat them of the precious time they have with you.

4. Take the time to exercise. I go to the gym in the mornings 3 times a week and it is one of the best opportunities to renew your mind, body and spirit. Schedule it like you do everything else.

5. Eat right. All the studies I've seen say the same thing: the increased work hours lead to poor eating habits. We're eating on the run, grabbing fast food on the way to the next appointment because it's more convenient and not getting the proper nutrition. It's no wonder we're tired and stressed.

6. Schedule down time. This is time that you need to relax. It's one of the most important things I do with my clients even if it means shutting the doors to the office one day out of the week. You need time to recharge your batteries and take a break. And there's no one better to do that with than with those you care about most.

Besides, what's the use of earning all those extra bucks if you're just going to use them to treat your high blood pressure?

To all the dads, I wish you a very happy Father's Day!

Taking you from where you are to where you want to go,

Jon