Being a first-time dad and working life: how to keep the balance

3 Oct ‘22
6 min
Nicolas Maréchal
Reviewed by psychologist Soesja Vogels
working dad
Having to juggle raising a young child and professional obligations for the first time can be a challenge. And it can be as physically draining as it is mentally. However, applying some basic health principles to everyday life can be a lifesaver. You can find the details of our recipe below.

 

You’ve been patiently waiting for it. The nine months have probably even prepared you mentally for the change. Or almost. Because in the end, the big upheaval is well and truly here! All your reference points have been shattered: new responsibilities, less time for yourself, disturbed sleep, a couple that is reinventing itself, etc. And you must also, at the same time, continue to lead a busy professional life. Is this too much?

 

Don’t panic! You are not the first to go through this, nor will you be the last. And you too can take up the challenge! Self-tolerance is the keyword. And it doesn’t matter what society seems to expect of you. The notion of “gender role”, which characterizes the particular social expectations of individuals according to their gender, is still a reality today.

 

In one of her books, the English anthropologist Anna Machin describes the enormous disparity in the way men around the world approach parenthood. In the past, the father was considered a good father if he guaranteed the “important things” such as financial and food security, as well as basic support in education. But today, the image of the good father has evolved. It is more “all-round”, and all-encompassing. Dads can and should be able to handle everything. The pressure is definitely on!

 

“Wanting to be present at home and at work at the same time is admirable, but can also be dangerous,” says Soesja Vogels. “It’s a question of balance. If your ultimate goal is to have everything you want, you may not achieve it. You can’t stop time or make the days longer. You may feel stressed if you constantly feel guilty about not spending enough time on work or family. This will also cost you time and energy that you can’t spend on your work tasks or your child.”

 

The road to success in 6 steps

 

So how do you deal with it? By applying some simple basic principles every day. With confidence and kindness. Of course, you may find others that suit you perfectly – we encourage you to follow them – but if not, here are 6 that will help you juggle skillfully with your two hats.

 

Transparency with your senior managers

 

Talk, talk, and then, talk some more. If you feel the need to enjoy precious time with your baby, your supervisors and colleagues should be informed. Together, you can work out the right formula, one that will allow you to be a present dad while remaining efficient at work. In short, a fulfilled man!

 

A healthy lifestyle

 

You know this better than anyone. Adopting a healthy lifestyle when you’re a new dad can be ambitious! Physical and mental health are closely linked, so we can only advise you to try to establish simple, healthy habits on a daily basis. Eat well, try to exercise daily (why not while walking with baby), rest whenever you can… Yes, yes, you can (and will) do it!

 

Quality time as a priority

 

Agreed, easier said than done! But setting priorities will really help you. Have you already identified them? Great! They will be non-negotiable from now on. And you’ll do everything in your power to make sure you never neglect them. For instance? Imposing a morning routine to enjoy your kid and spend time with him/her for feeding, dropping him/her off or picking him/her up at the nursery, systematically blocking a slot in your diary during which you will not take part in any professional meeting to take care of your family…The possibilities are numerous, it’s up to you! This quality time will give you the boost you need to tackle your professional obligations.

 

Work in a more flexible way

 

In the same vein, perhaps you could consider adjusting your working hours? Maybe working part-time? Or working in a more flexible way? Either working remotely more often or working on a staggered basis to ensure a balance with your family life. Obviously, the starting point will be and will remain dialogue with your employer/colleagues so that they feel in tune with you and on your side during this period.

 

Your couple as a team

 

How do you react when you are in charge of a specific project at work? You call on the necessary resources and you evolve as a team, trusting each of its members, right? It’s the same at home! Raising a child and maintaining an active professional life is a big challenge. A great challenge every day! You will only be stronger and able to cope with it if your role is clearly established. Your team at home is your couple, your family. Shared responsibility and constant dialogue will be the key to your success.

 

Draw inspiration from friends

 

As mentioned above, others have gone through this and done it (very well)! So you can certainly learn from their experience. And who better than friends who have also become dads recently – or longer ago – to guide you?

 

An amazing mission

 

As you can see, being a dad and leading a challenging professional life is a real adventure that is definitely worth living. Studies show that being an involved dad from the very first month of a child’s life helps them to develop better, in terms of IQ and language for example. What’s more, the bond you build with your little one is also impacted by the commitment you show during his first moments of life. A baby who feels secure and whose needs are met by his father will more easily develop a sense of attachment to him.

 

Every journey has its ups and downs. This one can upset and change all your daily routines. But it’s clear that you have the resources to adapt. And no matter how you feel at the time, remember why you are doing this. Because at the end of the day, you’re on a new mission now: to give your child a bright future while keeping your sanity by being happy at home and at work. Bon voyage!