Find your work people. Download our app.

Career Advice

Creating a better work-life balance as a new dad

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated May 4, 2022
|5 min read

Glassdoor is proud to partner with the incredible storytelling organization The Moth to bring you stories of work, self, and perseverance. The following is one of the stories we will share over the next few weeks that we hope will inspire you to know your worth and reach for what you deserve.

You like your job, and you're good at it. You have control over your productivity, you set your workflow, and you gain a sense of pride from your accomplishments. You're a breadwinner, a provider, and a hard worker — and now you're a new dad, and it's scary as hell. 

Your work is the one thing that's always made sense to you, the same way that climbing into a helicopter in an Alaskan snowstorm to rescue a person in distress makes sense to Rob Simpson, a rescue swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard. But when you became a dad, you discovered as Rob shared in his story "Living Up to a Motto" on The Moth stage, that you started to see your career in a new light the moment you were handed your new baby.

I live this job. I don't make sense at the bank. I make sense cold and wet and stuffed into the back of a helicopter.

That instantaneous, profound love for your new child doesn't quell your passion for your career. But, it can displace it and color it with a different perspective. And that new perspective insists that you create a better balance between work and life — no matter if you're changing diapers, coding emails, or saving lives from a helicopter.

1. Talk about being a dad at work

It’s common knowledge that mothers have to maintain a healthy balance between work and family, and maternity leave is often expected and encouraged for new mothers. Dads, however, may not always receive equal treatment. Recent research shows that only about 40% of companies offer paternity leave, and an even lower percentage of dads are able to access this benefit. And yet, a 2019 study found that fathers who take paternity leave not only feel more satisfied with their home life, they also show an increase in job satisfaction — a positive effect that spills over to their partners and families as a whole.

To normalize work-life balance as a new dad, talk about being a dad at work. Convey that balancing these two worlds is less about creating total separation between your work and personal life and more about reconciling the two — and making sure your employer understands this balance as well. 

Let your work peers in on your life as a new dad so when you suddenly need to tend to a screaming baby on a Zoom call or leave the office early to beat rush hour to help out at home, they get it. Talking about being a working dad can help your coworkers see that your responsibilities are a bit broader these days.

Likewise, it's important to talk about work while you're at home. Creating complete separation in an attempt to achieve work-life balance can make it more of a challenge for your partner to support you when you need it. Talk about your work responsibilities. Discuss your meeting schedule, deadlines, due dates, and project goals with your partner. Schedule time when you need to plug in and offer to help when you have less going on. 

2. Redefine what success looks like for you at work

Previously, success at work may have been showing up early to get ahead of the day, checking everything off your ambitious to-do list, or going above and beyond as you attempt to climb the ladder. But you're a dad now, and your accomplishments may look more like getting enough sleep so you can show up right at work or giving less than 150% so you have enough energy left to take care of your family at the end of the day.

It was the first time in my life that I realized that the decisions I make on the job don't just affect me. They affect my family now.

Your new definition of success will depend on your job and level of responsibility. But no matter what you do, give yourself grace while redefining what your achievements look like as a working dad. Accept that your level of productivity at work may not always match what it was before you brought home your little bundle of joy.

3. Realize that your job affects your family

Achieving a healthy work-life balance includes setting boundaries at work to keep responsibilities and stress from coming home with you. Tell your boss if your workload is too heavy and is bleeding over into your personal time. Let your coworkers know your working hours and remain faithful to them. Make it a habit to end your day at a consistent time. Close your computer when your workday is over, and silence notifications that may come through after hours. Set healthy boundaries for work, and make sure you and others respect them.

4. Get support from other working dads

You may know the feeling of returning to the office after paternity leave, working from home with a needy newborn, realizing that work will never be as important as your child, or even feeling like you spend more time working than you do with your family. Talking to other working dads about how they overcame obstacles like these can be a tremendous help. 

Joining communities of working parents on Fishbowl can give you a safe space to ask questions, get practical advice, or just air your frustrations to people who understand what it's like to be a working parent. 

5. It's ok to love your job and your family

The struggle for work-life balance is a struggle for a reason. You love being a dad, and you love your job — and it's ok to give time to both. Occasionally, you'll have to put work first. Other times, your child or family deserves your full attention. But establishing a healthy work-life balance early can help stave off the guilt when faced with the decision to prioritize one over the other. 

Keep an open discourse at work about being a dad. Continue making it clear that your family is important to you. Prioritize work when things need to get done and choose to spend time with your family every chance you can.