As a young man, I never really seriously thought that I’d one day have two kids. In fact, I never really saw myself getting married. However, here I am with a wife and two kids and me playing family man as a work-at-home dad. Who would have guessed? Certainly not me.
But anyway, if the shoe fits and all that. So here I am, balancing work as a self-employed individual with taking care of two kids during the day. I guess I’m lucky that I majored in management and have had the long-time ability to plan, organize, multi-task, and stay efficient. They are certainly skills that I regularly need in my multiple roles.
Here are a few of the things that I use to my advantage when balancing my work and at-home dad role, caring for two children, one of whom is a newborn and the other who has just started kindergarten.
Age Gap Advantages
I know that many people like to have their kids just a year or so apart. However, I grew up with a half-brother who was about five years younger than me, and it was a great experience. Plus, we got kind of busy with life and didn’t make the decision to have a second child right away.
However, I know from my own experience of being multiple years older than my brother made things easier not only for me, but for my father and his wife as well. I was better able to understand what was going on. There was less fighting between us siblings and as I got older, I was able to help out more with the raising and watching of my younger brother.
I’m hoping that this is the case with our kids and that our older son is able to take an active interest in helping with our second child. I think it would provide him with valuable parenting experience that he might one day be able to apply to his own future; plus, it’s a heck of a lot of fun and he get’s to play “big brother” and teach the little one all sorts of cool stuff!
Getting Everyone into a Routine Quickly
I found that getting our first child into a routine quickly was huge in my being able to pair work and parenting. And I know that it will be equally important — actually probably more so — with our second child.
Having to balance work with getting our five-year-old to school and back, help him with his school work, and care for the baby at the same time means that I’ll need to have my stuff together. And getting all of us into a regular routine with our meals, preparations, naptimes, and similar activities as quickly as possible will make things easier and more manageable.
Another major aspect of balancing our two kids is being able to communicate with our older child. Since I won’t be able to explain things to the baby, I’m going to have to rely upon the ability of our five-year-old to understand and help out. Even if his helping out is only playing quietly on his own and entertaining himself while baby is sleeping so that I can get a little work done, I’m going to have to ensure that I balance communicating my needs and baby’s needs to our son with keeping him entertained and ensuring that he understands what is happening and why.
Being Flexible with my Work and Work Times
I knew going into having our second child that I’d have to be more than ready to roll with punches when it came to my work schedule. I had to do it with our first child, working when he was sleeping or playing, and now I have to be even more flexible balancing getting him ready and over to school and back with baby number two, making lunches, changing diapers, furthering our older son’s education once home, doing household duties, and squeezing work into the few moments between all this.
Therefore, I take advantage of just about any available down time I have to jump on some work if possible. I keep a list of work-related items that I can get to immediately when the opportunity arises, and often leave work items open on my computer or desk so that I can start them with little or no delay. I also keep a list of family and housekeeping matters that need to be dealt with so that they are next to me on my desk whenever I’m working. With so many things going on, it’s hard to remember everything, so having these lists nearby allows me to better balance all aspects of our life…work, family and home.
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