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

When people know you're 'on your own' they just assume that you have a flexible schedule. Not so much. Try these three tips.

learn more about Jim Joseph

By Jim Joseph


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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?

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.


How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Business News

Mark Zuckerberg Has Promised More Transparency Amid Meta Layoffs — 5 Reasons That's a Smart Strategy

For decades, transparency hasn't been particularly popular among business leaders who manage teams. The times are changing though, and transparency is now gaining traction.

Business News

Would You Buy Maggie Murdaugh's Monogrammed Snake Print Pillows? Items From the Murdaugh Family Home Are Going Up for Auction

The sale comes just weeks after Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the June 2021 murders of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and son Paul Murdaugh.


The Dark Side of Pay Transparency — And What to Do If You Find Out You're Being Underpaid

There are many reasons employers and workers advocate for pay transparency — it can build trust, lead to fair compensation for historically underpaid individuals and eliminate the stigma surrounding money talk. But as the practice becomes normalized, honesty can backfire.