Work-life balance often isn’t easy – but it’s worth it. Here some dads describe the challenges of juggling work and family, especially after the birth of their child.

The work and family juggle

After your baby arrives, it can be hard to juggle making a living, enjoying your relationship and getting some time for yourself.

Tim’s story (father of two)
‘You could spend the first five years of your child’s life working really hard to make more money, or you could spend more time getting to know your child. All kids really want to do is hang out with you.’

John’s story (father of twins)
‘Immediately after the birth I had to walk out of the hospital, turn on my mobile, and close a real estate deal. I spent half an hour pacing in the dark on the front steps of the hospital doing this stupid deal I couldn’t avoid while my wife and sons slept upstairs – where I wanted to be.

‘Working then and in the weeks afterwards disconnected me from the process I had always imagined. But I still felt incredibly lucky, and having cheeky bright-eyed twin boys seemed like a cosmic bonanza.’

Rhett’s story (self-employed father of two, works from home)
‘Learning to be more productive in short slices of time was definitely a challenge. It’s one skill I’ve really developed since becoming a parent. It’s really about setting expectations and understanding that with children around, focusing on a complex task won’t always be possible.’

Taking leave when your baby arrives

If you can, make the most of any time you have off work. It’s a great way to get to know your baby and start your life as a dad.

As a dad or partner, you have a vital role in the first few months of your child’s life. Dad and Partner Pay gives you up to two weeks of government-funded pay to make it easier for you to have this time with your baby. If you’re eligible, you can take Dad and Partner Pay any time in the first year after birth or adoption.  

Serge’s story (father of one)
‘I found it useful to discuss leave arrangements with workmates who had taken time off with their newborns. Then I checked my entitlements via the HR policy on the intranet.

‘My wife and I decided that it would be best for me to take leave straight after the birth so I could help her in the first 10 days of my child’s life. I used carers leave for the day of the birth and the day after, then parental leave for the following five work days. We had the Easter holidays about two months later so I took a further two weeks at Easter.

‘Work was supportive – I just had to tell people about any ongoing work I was involved in so it could continue in my absence.’

Rhett’s story (self-employed father of two, works from home)
‘I didn’t take “leave” after my sons were born because I had to keep an eye on work day to day. But I didn’t take on any larger tasks. I just tried to prioritise what my wife and baby needed, and to be more productive with work in whatever time was left.

‘Sometimes this meant just catching up on sleep! Sometimes I could slip into the home office if a visitor was helping my wife with the baby.’

Emanuel’s story (father of one)
‘I wanted a good block of time off work when the baby was born, but also a few weeks leave up my sleeve for later. I wanted to be at home straight away so I could support my partner and the baby as much as possible.

‘I arranged two weeks of annual leave and two weeks of unpaid paternity leave. By the time I returned from leave, my organisation had revisited their paternity leave policy, so the unpaid leave turned into paid leave. I still had some annual leave, which I took a few months later.’

Video

Dads’ changing roles

4:08

This short video is about the changing role of fathers in raising children.

Dads talk about being stay-at-home dads, social changes in fatherhood, and increased involvement in children’s daily care. They discuss their experiences of being more involved in parenting than their own fathers were.

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Last updated or reviewed
09-08-2016

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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