Tips for Working Dads Who Want to Have It All

Modern dads want to have great careers AND be involved parents. Here are 8 tips from working fathers to help you have it all.

portrait of Meg Embry
by Meg Embry

Published on June 27, 2022 · Updated on June 30, 2022

Edited by Jennifer Cuellar
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Tips for Working Dads Who Want to Have It All
Image Credit: BraunS / E+ / Getty Images


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the after-school parent demographic underwent a noticeable change: dads were suddenly everywhere.

When organizations sent non-essential workers home to work remotely, many fathers used their new flexibility to embrace the day-to-day work of parenting. And they told BestColleges that it fundamentally changed what they want from work.

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"I have a beautiful daughter, a six-year-old mini-me. When she was born, I swore I would never miss a birthday because of my job. But when I had to go back to work just a week after she was born, it broke my heart. I realized work-life balance would be really difficult," said Sam Shepler, a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and CEO of TestimonalHero.

That all changed two years ago. "The pandemic was the perfect time to become the dad I want to be," said Shep. "I worked beside her while she napped. I had breakfast with her. I took breaks to help with homework. I knew I didn't want to give up on all of that."

Today, as the worst of the pandemic recedes and companies return to "normal," many dads are wondering how they can still have it all.

So we heard from 80 working dads all over the world about what they have done to create better work-life balance in their own lives. Here's their best advice.

Top 8 Tips for Working Dads

1. Normalize Parenting

"Lead by example. One father I know prioritizes taking his girls to school every morning. He told me he now has a thousand mini YouTube videos of them floating around in his head. It's never jeopardized his career — in fact, it makes him a better leader.

"I used to work nights and weekends. Since the birth of my daughter, I've told clients, employees, and anybody else who asks that I don't pick up calls or answer emails outside of regular office hours.

"My team is aware when I go to school activities, am stranded at home with a sick child, or simply need a mental health day. Demanding balance in your own life creates the possibility of balance for other working parents."

— Dr. Frederik Lipfert, founder and CEO, VPNCheck.org


2. Join the Chorus

"Working mothers are often the ones speaking up about the unique needs of working parents. Joining your voice to theirs shows the company it's not a gender-specific issue and can help all of you make progress toward a more inclusive culture.

"This is especially important if your company is resistant to making other quality of life changes: The more of you who are asking for a change, the higher the odds you'll be heard and acknowledged."

— Matt Erhard, managing partner, Summit Search Group


3. Ask for the Flexibility You Need

"When I became a father, I thought I needed to dedicate myself completely to work in order to provide. But after watching my son grow up with a father he barely sees, I realized being a present and loving father mattered more than money.

"So I asked for flexibility to work from home — to work fewer hours, to adjust my schedule. You don't have to throw your career out the window to be a good dad, you just have to learn to say no to some things."

— Stefan Smulders, founder, Expandi


4. Ask for Help

"One of the hardest lessons I've learned is that it's a mistake to try to do everything myself. The best thing I ever did for my business and for my family was to ask for help.

"Like most business owners, I found it tough to delegate. But when I did, I was able to stop rushing, focus on my family, and really listen when we're together."

— Sumit Bansal, founder and CEO, Trumpexcel.com


5. Know When to Stop

"I set specific work hours, which helps a lot. As a remote worker, overworking is a regular occurrence. It's hard to physically disconnect. So: Set precise hours and make sure your teammates and manager are aware of them. Take into account your lunch break, walking the dog, any family obligations. This will result in a more realistic timetable."

— Sep Niakan, managing broker and founder, CondoBlackBook.com


6. Redefine Success

"Success at work once meant arriving early, crossing everything off an ambitious to-do list, or going above and beyond in pursuit of advancement. But as a father, your accomplishments may look more like getting enough sleep to do your work and reserving the energy you need to care for your family at the end of the day.

"Show yourself some grace while redefining what success looks like. Accept that your level of productivity at work might not be what it was prior to the birth of your child."

— Shane Liuw, SEO expert, First Page Digital


7. Analyze and Optimize Your Time

"Keep a journal of everything you spend time on, both professionally and personally. This will reveal where you spend your time and where you waste it. Next, contemplate what is most important to you. Compare that with your time audit: What should you be doing differently?

"Finally, make a list of your top priorities as a father. Schedule them into your calendar the same way you would an important meeting or a doctor's visit."

— Matthew Dailly, managing director, Tiger Financial


8. Set Objectives

"Success at work looks like hitting business goals and meeting key performance indicators. But families don't usually have performance measures. To be a better father and co-parent, try creating some. That could be as simple as determining how many family dinners you will have each week or how many school drop-offs you will make.

"Becoming very specific about my objectives helped me decide exactly how and where I wanted to spend the hours of each day."

— Michael Hess, e-commerce strategy lead, Code Signing Store

Work-life balance is something all dads deserve. But even if you aren't in a position to adjust your schedule, find a better job, or work remotely, you can still show up for your kids with the time you do have: One dad told us that 30 minutes of intentional, distraction-free family time each night has dramatically improved his relationship with his young son.

Every little bit counts, dads. You're doing great.

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