Balancing Work, School, and Family

Two weeks ago I began a month-long program run by Seth Godin. It is an intensive and unconventional take on modern business school. Going in I knew that these four weeks would be a challenge both mentally and relationally for our family.

While that hypothesis has turned out to be true, this opportunity has been totally worth it. That doesn’t mean that for the duration I have ignored my family. It meant that I needed to find a new way of both fully engaging in the coursework while also devoting time and effort to my family.

In this post, I want to let dad’s that are busy with work or school know that it is possible to maintain your relationships and still get everything done. I wouldn’t desire to do this forever but a temporary stint is completely doable. Here are four tips that I found helpful for me. Have your own? I’d love to hear them in the comments, or email me.

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1. Set expectations

For our family, I made sure that everyone was aware of the amount of effort this class would take. I think it is only fair that everyone gets on the same page about when and how much presence you will have. Clear expectations reduce the chance for disappointment and resentment.

Expectations also must be set for your classmates/teachers/coworkers. It isn’t acceptable to make your family suffer because you didn’t set expectations with the other sphere. I have found that by being upfront with what I am capable of contributing lets everyone know exactly what they can count on me for.

2. Give mom a break

My wife has been incredibly supportive of my class and I am pretty certain I wouldn’t be able to complete it without her. She has taken on new time constraints and extra solo parenting responsibility. However, I need to be aware of that and give her breaks when I can.

Breaks can consist of something as simple as 15 minutes to get a shower uninterrupted or an hour to go run an errand for herself. I would suggest tho that you give her as much time as possible away like a Saturday morning to get away and do some shopping.

3. When you are around, Be present

This is a difficult one for me! I may be off work and class hours and be in the same room with the family but be lightyears away mentally. My phone is a huge distraction too because a lot of the class and work apps can be accessed on there. I suggest that you do what you need to to make sure when you have some free time you are present.

There is nothing worse than finally getting to see someone and they can’t even look you in the face or carry a conversation. This is also time that you won’t get back. Most likely if you waste it you will regret that later.

4. Don’t forego sleep

Maybe you are super-human or can operate on less sleep than a normal person, but my last tip is don’t skimp on sleep! We operate better when we are rested. It may seem counterintuitive to getting things done but sleep may just be the best way to accomplish more.

I know for me I have made sure to be in bed each night by midnight during this class. That is much later than my normal routine but I can feel myself being less creative and less productive after only a few nights in a row of less sleep. You may have extra work that must get done by a deadline that prevents resting but find some other way to make up that rest later.


This isn’t an exhaustive list but these 4 things have helped me tremendously in this very busy time. There are probably many dads out there that are far busier than I am but I hope even just one of these makes a difference for you.

Comments

  1. Reply

    I’m playing around with the idea of the altMBA, and my biggest concern is my family. I’m still not sure if I can handle it, we have a 2.5-year-old, and a 1-year-old. Plus, my wife will be 6 months along with our 3rd when the next available class starts.

    Your tips are great and helping me decide if this is possible
    Thanks.

    1. Reply

      Congrats on the upcoming arrival, Ryan. It is definitely not something to enter into lightly, but if there is a lot of upfront communication you’ll be in a better place. If you have any more questions, or want to just bounce your thoughts off someone, feel free to email me.

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