Working dads spend the majority of their waking hours at the office -- and away from the kids. And when they do get home, they are too tired and often their headspace is still at their job where they've clocked more than eight hours. So sometimes bringing the work stress home is unavoidable. That makes no one happy.
Six out of seven kids have experienced their parents bringing stress from work home, according to a research report for Project: Time Off, a group in support of vacations and time off work. What’s more, 75 percent of the kids said their parents were unable to stop working even when they’re already home.
So, what can dads do to make sure work stays at work? The solution can be practical and simple: change into your house clothes as soon as you get home from work (it applies to working moms, too).
“This is a way of marking the physical, mental and emotional move from work to home, from worker to parent,” according to Australia’s Raising Children Network.
It's not the only solution of course. You can choose other tasks as markers like announcing your arrival with “Dito na si Papa!” or taking a whiff of the dinner ulam to put you into at-home mode. Whatever it is, you need to make it a habit, or, more importantly, a ritual. You’re consciously and unconsciously telling yourself to switch off the boss-at-work and turn on dad-at-home.
Routines help solve family problems. For example, you may have already established a morning routine that helps get everyone out the door in time for work or school. Rituals, on the other hand, are highly meaningful routines. They “let your children know what’s important to your family,” said Raising Children. You probably already have this ritual of kissing the wife and kids as soon as you get home from work. That's good because each time you do this simple act, you're reaffirming to your family how you love them.
Share your ritual with the whole family. Let your partner in on your plan to be a better at-home parent and tell her your marker. Discuss how you can make this work together. From now on, for example, as soon as she notices your marker, she’ll come and give you a hug and encourage the kids to do the same. If the kids always go to mom for homework help, she could tell the kids that maybe dad knows more about literature or history.
Sometimes, being a better parent and partner comes down to being more mindful. And, in the fast-paced world we live in today, it’s easy to overlook and eventually neglect what’s truly meaningful in our lives. Being physically and mentally in the moment is a practice that benefits every parent.