Taking the plunge – Flexible working for dads

Dads holding hands roundup 610I have to admit I struggle with balancing being a parent and working full time. I have a pretty senior role in the cut throat world of sales. This takes me away from home a lot and when I am back in time for bath time I have to admit coming home to something that resembles a warzone with tired and irritable children is not what I signed up for. So the only time I get quality time with my kids is at the weekend, well at least until they turn into monsters during the witching hour in the afternoon.

I often find it hard to switch off from work when at home. This is especially difficult when I am with my three girls and I find my mind wandering onto the latest ‘challenge’ at work when I should be living in the moment!

One of the great things I have gained from my blogging escapades has been learning from other people who face the same challenges as me and who have taken the leap of faith to change their working pattern to give them more quality time with their children. Great blogs like Dads The Way I Like ItFathers, Work and Family and DadBlogUK have published many posts on Father’s rights with regards to the workplace. Blogs like these have given me the inspiration to explore the option of flexible working for me.

We are in the fortunate position that my salary enables High Command to be a full time Mum, something that is important to both of us. But with this can come a certain amount of resentment that I can’t be a full time Dad. Something I would genuinely jump at if it was an option open to us. But sadly it is not. I have to accept that my primary aim for the foreseeable future is to in the words of my eldest daughter Poppet, who is four and a half, is to ‘Go to work to earn the Ham and Cheese for us all’.

So the next best thing I could look at doing would be to explore condensing my hours so that I could do a day’s childcare and feel like I was doing something to be more hands on than being an ‘Executive Weekend Dad’.

I first mooted the idea in December of last year of asking my boss if I could work a condensed working fortnight to give me a day off to do Daddy Day Care every other week. This would basically involve me working my 10-days worth of hours in 9-days so I would not have to take a pay cut.

However I was always scared what my boss would say. She is a careerist who has never had children and despite her always being fair with me I conjured up these images of the conversation going very badly and it being a blot on my career copy book. But at the same time to coin the cliché ‘they grow up quick’ I had already left it too late with my Poppet who started school this month so I had to be brave and do it for my other two girls.

Anyway I finally summed up the courage and asked my boss whether it could be a possibility we could explore? In my request I stated that I was struggling with balancing my career and family values and that I thought it would be good for the company and for me in terms of productivity if we explored this day off every other week. I have to say my boss was brilliant and said she thought it was a great idea!

And that was that. All that worry for 9-months about what my boss would say was dispelled in a 5-minute conversation. I clarified that a Wednesday would be best for me rather than say a Friday as I did not want the day to become an excuse for a long weekend. I also confirmed that I could be flexible if, for example management meeting came up, given that I manage my own diary this would not be a problem.

I did the first day last week with Dumpling my two and a half year old. We went to a local adventure park and I can count on one hand the number of 1-2-1 days I have spent with her. It was very special which you can read about here and something I look forward to doing more of over the coming months and years.

Have you or your husband embraced flexible working?

How have you found it?

As always would love to read your comments 🙂

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About Tom Porte

Hi my name is Tom and I am a 35 year old chap whose life just over four years ago changed forever – I became a Dad! I enjoy blogging about my family’s exploits with a humorous slant on things and I must admit I have a mischievous sense of humour and enjoy making my readers chuckle.
I am married to my beautiful, supportive (and very patient) wife High Command. Together with our first born 7 year old chocolate Labrador, affectionately known as Beef Ears, we are the proud owners of three daughters namely Poppet, Dumpling and Pumpkin.

11 Comments

  1. 14 September 2014 / 20:08

    I have as flexible working hours as I can do working with nursery. N does 3 days at day nursery so those days I do 8.30-5 instead of a 9 start. Then 2 days he’s at nursery school so 9-3 with an early 8.30 drop off. I can do the drop off, then someone from nursery brings him home and looks after him until one of us is back. Friday I have a short lunch and finish at 2.45 to pick him up at 3. So we have 2 hours. It’s not long but it does usually free up the weekend a bit more.

    I’m lucky in that this job (allbeit only a contract – hopefully they just keep extending it as they have been doing) is only 15 mins from home, unlike my previous job which was an hour commute each way. In a job like that which is more like what I want to do/my experience I have to shorten my hours, as with a long commute you just can’t compress hours.

    My OH is a self employed farmer. Flexibility doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. He didn’t take any time off after N was born (although admittedly he works on the farm at home anyway so can pop in), and so far he’s not come on holiday with us in the 3.5 years that N’s been here. Maybe this year!

    • 13 October 2014 / 19:16

      Hey Emma thanks for taking the time to comment and sounds like youve got a fantastic set up with your work. Having a short commute really does make a different. Hope your holiday plans come to fruition 🙂

  2. 15 September 2014 / 12:15

    Great piece Tom. As a former HR Manager this was part of my role, assisting employees to pursue their flexible working requests. And I am so glad that your boss was so accommodating. I hope this works out for you and that you can achieve the work-life balance you deserve. Good luck! Jess x

  3. 16 September 2014 / 13:41

    It’s such an interesting point that you bring up that flexible working really focusses on the mothers. I don’t think it’s ever crossed my other half’s mind to consider it! I’ve been with my company for 9 years now and they are fab with my hours. I work 9-4.30 taking a half an hour lunch and on Thursdays I work from home. I did originally ask for 2 days from home but my manager wasn’t happy with that – I’ve always wondered whether I should have gone above her to HR but didn’t want to cause an awkward office relationship!

    I’ve currently been offered a new job elsewhere (sssh don’t tell the boss!) but am struggling to get the flexible hours that I require in order to deal with childcare! I guess it’s safe to say I’m spoilt where I am now!

    It’s great that your boss was so immediately welcome to the idea of flexible working. I think a lot of companies really need to improve their flexibility for everyone to enable a decent work/life balance.

    • 13 October 2014 / 19:19

      Thanks Jess. Although its taken a bit of time to settle into a routine its so far so good and proving lots of fun and something I dont regret doing although I wish I had asked to do it years ago 🙂

    • 13 October 2014 / 19:21

      Thanks Lisa. I only have one other daddy friend who does it and I think there is a lot of fear it will be frowned upon by the powers to be!

  4. 13 October 2014 / 10:56

    Well done on taking the plunge and going flexible, Tom. You won’t regret it!

  5. 14 October 2014 / 17:04

    Tom, this piece is inspiring and something that will make a lot of Dads stop and think. It’s too hard in today’s world to build your career and be with your kids as much as you’d like to be (for many of us, anyway), but it sounds like you’re striking a great balance now.

    We’ve only got the one at the moment, and I’m lucky to work relatively close to home so I don’t miss too much. That being said, I can also count the number of 1-2-1 days we’ve had on one hand; it’s quite sad really.

    Being in a senior position as well, our fears sound the same… what if I don’t seem committed enough if I want to take a day for childcare?! What if they just don’t understand the need for it? etc etc…

    I will, however, be looking to take a leaf out of your book in the future. Having that flexibility is so important. In true movie-line style; we only live once and each of our kids only grows up once… it would be wrong if we weren’t allowed to be a part of that.

    Again – great post!

    • 15 October 2014 / 22:44

      Thanks mate much appreciated. Have just completed my fourth day today with no casualties so all good on that front. But my boss (ee all work remotely) forgot it was mh Daddy Day Care day today so when I just **quickly checked** my blackberry this evening I had numerous missed calls! I can highly recommend it and in this day and age with the ability to work remotely and flexibly the powers to be dont bat an eyelid 🙂