June 12, 2012
“I didn’t tell you it would be easy; I told you it would be worth it.” That is the current expression written on the erasable Write Plate in our family’s kitchen. It pretty much sums up my feelings about trying to maintain a work-life balance as a trial attorney in a small law firm. It isn’t easy, but the payoff is worth it.
Now more than ever our children need us in their lives, and not just present, but actively involved. There is a national epidemic of un-fathered children these days. This includes more than just children that have no father physically in their home, but also children who have a father that is present, but is not actively committed to parenting his children.
With sons (I have three at home) it may be even more important that the father be committed and involved. But with any child, having a present and committed father in the picture is important.
What can you do to balance work and your home life? Practicing as a trial attorney means that often your time is not your own, it belongs to your employer, your client or the court. How can you make more hours in your day so you are fulfilling your responsibilites at work and at home?
There are no easy answers, but there are ways to cope. Here are a few that I have found helpful:
- Prioritize — What is important in your life? Is time on the golf course more important than time with your children? How much slack time is there in your week that could be used to spend with your sons and daughters?
- Schedule — Schedule time with your children and put it on your calendar. And then give that time equal or greater priority with non-essential work or personal ‘play time.’ Show your children that they are a priority in your life.
- Set and manage workplace expectations — This may be the hardest step of all. I believe that attorneys—especially trial attorneys—are in our profession because they are drawn to it. It may be a predisposition; it may be an illness; but because we are drawn to it, saying ‘no’ can be very difficult. But sometimes you have to make a stand. I believe there is not much worth more in your life than your children.
- Reach out for help — There are sources out there. Use them! Despite the prediction we men have to ‘go it on our own’ or be the Lone Ranger, we need help too.
Regardless of whether your children live with you or not, being a committed father won’t happen unless you decide to do it. But remember, “I didn’t tell you it would be easy; I told you it would be worth it.”
Have a Happy Fathers Day!
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