Balancing Life and Work as a Single Dad

Balancing Life and Work as a Single Dad

This past weekend we took a trip to the mountains that inspired me to write about the difficulty of balancing life and work as a single dad in today’s society. Single moms also fit into this topic, but since I’m a dad, I’m writing the article in retrospect of that fact to keep it simple.

While traveling down Interstate 40E on my way to Fall Creek Falls for a weekend getaway in a fisherman’s cabin for hiking and spectacular waterfall views with my daughter and fiancé, I realized that there are two basic elements in life that, we as humans, are constantly having to balance against each other to make everything harmoniously flow together. Just like a waterfall, life can seem comparable to constant downpour of never-ending events that occupy our time and keep us away from our kids.

I’ll jump back about five years to explain my current situation so this makes total sense. I was previously engaged and had a child with my ex fiancé which ended shortly after our daughter turned one. We went through a pretty bitter custody battle that still ended with equal custody, but wasted tens of thousands of dollars which could have been used for other important life events in the future, such as our daughter’s college education. Since that time, I have been an equal care giver and role model in our child’s life while simultaneously running a business and managing all of life’s other responsibilities.

Nevertheless, five years later I am a “Super Dad” who cherishes every moment I get to spend with my precious little girl. The weekly trips to the park, repetitive hours of the movie Frozen, shopping excursions, and being used as a manikin for testing new nail polish is all worth it in the end. But there is always one thing that seems to get in the way of most parents’ time with their children, as well as my own – WORK!

Every job in America is demanding, some more than others. Forty-hour work weeks have pretty much settled as the “norm” in our culture, but it is extremely easy to become drained of energy during the Monday through Friday workweek. By the time you drive through rush-hour traffic, fight your way through the grocery store to pick up dinner ingredients, then finally make it home to cook – you are completely warped-minded and delirious.

Then comes the kid’s homework, questions, cleanup, story time, and bed. You barely have enough time to shower yourself and catch the last 10 minutes of Shark Tank on CNBC. It never ends! We are continuously “on the go” and hardly get a break to just stop and enjoy the moment. When we do catch a break, we are usually too busy worrying about the next day’s chores or so tired that it’s nearly impossible to take in the surroundings of relaxation.

Regardless of the amount of exhausting effort it takes to balance life and work as a single dad, I have found a solution to help solve the problem. For me, planning is everything. I have to plan everything from my workout routine, business meetings, what I’m going to wear the next day, and even meals. When you are “doing it all” on your own, life can become pretty overwhelming, pretty quick.

The solution I have found involves planning. If I designate certain times to allow myself to wind down and focus solely on spending time with my child, it fits perfectly into the routine. I tell myself, “No cell phones, no work, no internet, nothing but time with her is all I’m doing on this day.” Sometimes it even helps to leave my cell phone in the car or keep it as far away from me as possible so I don’t become distracted from the mission at hand.

Crossing this bridge can seem very difficult and doesn’t always work out the way we expect, but at least it’s a start. We should all learn to separate business from pleasure and realize that there is nothing more important in life than spending time with loved ones and our children. Learn to leave your work at your place of employment and do not carry the baggage home with you. Show 100% interest in what your children are telling or showing you after school, and make time to do something special with them whenever possible.

Life in America is all about choice, and crossing the “bridge of balance” is ultimately your choice to make. So choose wisely.

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  • Mark Scott

    Hi Justin – Like the post here. Quite similar to my own story – thank you for sharing. I was a single father for a couple years, and similar to you – found someone that is my best friend – and we are a great team! I wish you all the best!

    December 9, 2015 at 12:40 am

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