I was recently asked about how I balance work and family. No matter your job or level of busyness, it’s tough to manage everything. I travel a decent amount between my work as an NFL analyst and other broadcast work I do.
But even before my current career, traveling while playing football had its ups and downs. It doesn’t matter if you travel for work or if you work from home—we all need help juggling jobs and family. Over the last few years, I’ve found 3 ways to balance work and family in order to feel connected despite a busy schedule.
1. Communicate your schedule.
When I played football, communication was a vital part of every position. From daily practice and meetings to weekly drills and game plans, we practiced how we’d communicate to be ready for game day. As dads, we need to make sure we’re talking about our schedules with our families. My schedule gets more demanding during football season. My wife and I talk over our schedules so I don’t miss any special dates or upcoming events. With my kids, I discuss it when I have to go away—I explain what I do for work and I tell them about the city where I’ll be staying.
Talking about my work not only helps my kids understand what I do for a living but also provides a connection point while I’m away. When I return home, we talk about who I met and what I saw. You can create the same connection points with your family. You might keep a big calendar in a central location. I know dads who use mealtime to review upcoming events with the family. Depending on the age and stage of your kids, you might use apps to share your calendar. Use your schedule not only to connect so your kids know when you’re away but also to share your experiences with them.
2. Ask how you can help.
In football, you never stand around. You always have a job to do. No matter your position on the team, your role is to take initiative, plug in somewhere, and work. Dads can make the mistake of not making the most of the time they have at home. I found it helpful to ask my wife and kids what they need from me. So when I’m not working, I ask these simple questions: “What do you need from me? Where do you need me to be?” Asking helps me know where I can help.Show your wife and kids you have them on your mind, you’re involved, and you are looking to serve.
Try asking your family the same questions. Ask in person when you get home. Ask by text during the workday. Show your wife and kids you have them on your mind, you’re involved, and you are looking to serve.
3. Be present when you’re home.
Whether on the football field or in practice sessions and meetings, in sports you must be present and active. There’s no time for distractions. You aren’t about to accept a phone call while your coach is telling you how to improve. Dads can treat work seriously and cut distractions. But we often make the mistake of bringing the distractions of work, email, and social media into family time.
When I get home, I’m home. After work, I make sure my phone goes into a container on our kitchen counter. If my phone rings, I don’t answer it. I do this on purpose to make sure my kids see that dad’s home and, while work is important, there are more important things right now. Between you and me, once my kids go to bed, I’ll often come back and answer a text message or a phone call if I must. But it’s a sacred time when I arrive home. You’ll regret the time you spent checking email at home—you won’t regret the time you spent connecting with your family.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife and discuss it: 7 Ways to Connect When Your Husband Works a Lot.
Sound off: How do you balance work and family?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”