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Finding Balance to Fit the Roles of 'Dad' or 'Mom' Into the Day

Finding Balance to Fit the Roles of 'Dad' or 'Mom' Into the Day
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It’s 5 a.m. and the alarm rings on my iPhone -- a familiar sound at a familiar time.

I’ve been getting up at 5 a.m. every day for my entire professional life -- once I had kids, anyway. Back when they were young, it was an old-school alarm clock, the kind with real hands. Now that we are technology enabled, this is just the first of many alerts I have scheduled throughout the day on my smartphone.

I got into the habit of getting up early so that I could get some personal stuff out of the way before the workday got the best of me. This is when I work on my books, write my blog posts, pay the bills, catch up on the news, check my social channels and then head to the gym. It’s amazing how much I can get done in the two-and-a-half hours before everyone else gets up.

Related: How to Start Fitting Work Into Life (and Stop Fitting Life Into Work)

When the kids were young, I used the time to get their backpacks in order, make lunches, do any paperwork, double check their homework, pay the bills and then hopefully cram in a few sets at the gym.

Some things don’t change.

For most of the time when my kids were young, I had my own agency. It’s funny because when people know you’re “on your own” they just assume that you have a flexible schedule. Not so much. Yes, I was “dad,” but I was also at the whim of constantly changing client demands and flip-flopping schedules. But I still made it to every parent-teacher conference, PTA meeting, sports event and parent chaperoning that I possibly could.

On the flip side, it’s also funny because when you are a dad, people just automatically assume that you are going to put your career first. While I certainly had to make work a priority, I made many career choices so that I could be around for my kids at the ages and stages when they needed me most.

As I wrote in my book, Out and About Dad, I did what I had to do and I made it work. We all do, don’t we?

Related: The Key to Achieving Work-Life Balance for Parents? Accepting It's a Myth.

The day-to-day grind is never easy. Here are a few tips I learned along the way that helped me incorporate “dad” into my workday:

1. Put a couch in your office.

I’ve always kept a couch in my office for the more than occasional sick day, school holiday or snow day that always seemed to come at exactly the wrong time. A couch meant my kid could sleep, recline and relax at work with dad for the day. Now the kids reminisce about how much they loved coming to work with me back in the day.

2. Create a mobile office.

Running between meetings or skipping out to get to a school event can make for a lot of lost work time, but not if you are smart about it. Get some wireless headphones to make calls while you are driving and create a file system so that you can carry your office with you. It makes those runs to school as productive as if you are sitting at your desk.

3. Take 15 minutes.

I try to make one-hour meetings last only 45 minutes, which means I can take 15 minutes to check in with the kids, answer an email, complete some paperwork or make an important phone call. It’s amazing how much you can get done in 15-minute increments.

You can in fact be both a parent and an entrepreneur. While the stress can be overwhelming at times, don’t stress about mixing the two during the day. It’s just a way of life and a necessary mode to stay on top of both worlds.

Related: How Will Netflix's New Unlimited Parental Leave Policy Work, Exactly?