Work Life Balance for Dads: How It’s Changed Since the Pandemic

As we gather together this Father’s Day to celebrate the dads in our lives, it’s a good time to reflect.  How has being a dad changed over the past two years? What effect has the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had on work life balance for dads?

For Chris Myles, CEO of Golf Cart Go, it’s pretty simple, “The pandemic has reminded me just how much I love my kids.” That’s not to say the last two years have been easy. Myles acknowledges that adjusting to the pandemic restrictions required a lot of self-reflection and reevaluation of priorities. But in the end, while he doesn’t miss homeschooling, he does miss having the kids around.

I found that I was less stressed about work, they were my reminder that whatever I thought was so bad was not all that big of a deal.

Myles’ experience is not uncommon. Dads everywhere had a unique opportunity during the pandemic to spend more time with their kids and take on a more active parenting role. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, 68% of fathers feel closer or much closer to their children since the pandemic began.



A Wakeup Call

For some dads, it was a wakeup call. Dan Potter, Managing Director and CEO of CRAFTD, found that “The early pandemic phase revealed how far out of balance my work and home lives were. Though it was a troubling time, I enjoyed the family time I didn’t realize I had been missing.”

Prior to the pandemic, dads were already spending more time with their kids. A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center found that fathers spent about 3 times more time with their children than they did in 1965. However, a 2017 survey found that 63% of dads still felt they spent too little time with their kids.

Whether the lack of time spent parenting was due to long hours at work or just long hours commuting, the pandemic forced dads to spend more time at home. This in turn, increased awareness of the importance of work life balance for dads. Especially by dads themselves.

“I used to be one of those dads who was always working. I missed family dinners, and I ran late to my kids’ baseball games. My wife would have to drag me away from my desk to get a few minutes of quality time together. But then the pandemic hit, and everything changed. Suddenly, I was able to work from home, and I had a lot more time to spend with my family. And you know what? I loved it!”

Kris Silvey, Owner, Elevated Coffee Brew

The Benefits of Being Involved

There is a lot of emphasis placed on the importance of a mother in the life of a child. However, research also supports the importance of fathers as well. One study suggested that increased involvement from dad can strengthen cognitive and emotional development, increase academic and career success, and enhance life satisfaction (Allen & Daley, 2007).

These findings are echoed by research conducted by the Fatherhood Project. These studies found dads’ engagement with their kids resulted in higher achievement levels in reading and math. They also found that kids with positive relationships with dads exhibited lower levels of impulsivity, more self-control, and an ability to tolerate stress.

Life Lessons Learned

While most dads reported improved relationships with their kids as noted above, the new work life balance for dads did not come easy. Families had to restructure their days, redesign their homes, and re-establish household rules to adjust to the pandemic’s new normal.

Sometimes these changes resulted in unexpected lessons. According to Peter Hoopis, a dad of four girls aged 11 to 17, and owner of Peter Hoopis Ventures, “Just when we thought that our girls weren’t learning anything online for school, I realized they were learning more than ever…how to adapt, deal with change, and adjust to things that are outside of your control. Sometimes things are out of our control, but we can control how we react to them. That was my greatest lesson to my kids during this time period.

For some, additional household and parenting responsibilities combined with new work challenges, resulted in life lessons for dad. This was the case for Joshua Davis who began the pandemic as a teacher and ended as an entrepreneur. “When the pandemic hit, the responsibilities of teachers doubled and, in some cases, tripled. During this time, I became almost reclusive, and was ultimately diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder and depression.

Deciding it was better to be unemployed than to risk further deterioration of his psychological and emotional health, Davis and his wife used the opportunity to establish Outdoor Family HQ, a website devoted to helping other families spend time outdoors. Today Davis notes, “I haven’t been this content in a long time. Plus, I have plenty of emotional and physical energy to spare for my sons and have spent more time engaging and playing with them than I ever did before.”



The Employer’s Role

One critical component to creating a new work life balance for dads is employers. Experiences by dads reflect a variety of corporate responses during the pandemic ranging from very supportive to skeptical. While today, Jeff Neal, Engagement Officer for the Critter Depot, enjoys a flexible schedule, but it wasn’t always so easy.

“My employer was skeptical at first when I made them aware I was going to start helping with the kids in the morning.  But they were open to trying it out as long as my productivity did not decline. After doing this for 2 years, my employer is willing to let me continue working from home, because I have been able to maintain productivity, hit deadlines, and grow the core business.” 

Other dads felt more supported to take on additional childcare responsibilities. For Brandon Walsh, owner of Dad’s Agree, the transition to a new work life balance was proactively supported by his employer.

“Staying home with my wife and kids completely changed my routine. I decided to ask my employer for a flexible work schedule so I could spend my mornings helping around the house and playing with my kids. Afterward, I’d simply work in the study while my kids napped. “

Alex Estrada, owner of GiveHimThis.com, is finding his work life balance is better than ever.

“I’m fortunate to work for a company that adopted a hybrid office working environment. As a dad, I appreciate being able to work from home. I have the ability to spend more time with my kids than ever before, and because of that, the strength of our bond is beyond measure.”



The Takeaway

Regardless of whether dads return to the office or not, there is little doubt that many dads are celebrating improved relationships with their children this Father’s Day. Whether it’s reading a story or bandaging a boo-boo, a new work life balance for dads means more time for what’s really important.

For Tyler Sellers, Senior Coach at Total Shape, returning to the office is bittersweet.

“I was elated to be a part of all the precious moments like my child’s first steps. Now that the pandemic is almost over and the workplace is calling me, I can’t get over the vibe of being surrounded by the sweet scent of my baby boy. I hope that I could be a better father following the endemic situation as I don’t want to miss the joy of watching my little one grow.”


What have you learned about your work life balance during the pandemic? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!


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