Like a lot of working parents, dads, in particular, I work full time. I work 8-6, 5 days a week. That’s 50 hours a week. Some will do more than this I know, and good luck to you if you do! Either way, no matter how much we work, we must recognise the importance of having time off from work.
It’s very difficult sometimes prying ourselves away from work, or not worrying about work. It’s hard to detach ourselves from the thing which we spend most of our lives doing (except for sleep). You might need the money, or you might need that bonus, or you might just be in a job where you are expected to be a slave and work 24/7 for your evil overlord AKA the boss.
What if you are Self-employed
This can be even harder for those of us who are self-employed. Especially when you first start out as a self-employed individual, or you are trying to run your own business. It’s really difficult to turn down work, to walk away, to switch off and say ‘no thanks I want my time off instead’.
As a self-employed worker, we don’t get paid time off. That makes it really difficult to take time off. I know because I am self-employed and I had these struggles when I just started out. I was earning good money as a doctor, but like always, it was just not enough.
Despite what you may think, not all doctors earn megabucks. When I started out especially I had just qualified as a GP and was not earning that much. I was working a lot but it just never seemed to go far enough. My wife wasn’t working at the time, we’d just had a child, we had a mortgage to pay, etc.
I struggled at first to not work. The money was good and we needed it. I knew it wasn’t really sustainable in the long run but in the short term, it was fine. What I quickly found was my home life was deteriorating. My wife and I were strong and we remain so, but there were times when it was a struggle. Like many couples, we had our fights and arguments, but one thing we had that many others don’t was communication. The ability to actually talk to each other really helped us through those tough times.
My brush with illness
As I wrote about here I had a real scare with illness 2 years ago. It was a horrible time but a very important experience to go through. It really made me realise the importance of not working all the time. You really don’t want to miss out on time with the family just to be at work. As they say, you really can’t take the money with you when you go, so what’s the point.
Balance is needed. It was needed then and it’s still needed now.
I’m still a doctor, and I’m still working full time, but I actually work smarter, not harder. I’m still not earning megabucks, but compared to most, I do well I’ll admit.
How to achieve that balance?
The first step is to stop working so much. Easy to say I know, but you really don’t need to work 24/7. As we already said it’s very important to have time with the family, time away from work, and time with your significant other.
Schedule activities. You don’t need a rigid timetable, and if you do have one well it probably won’t make it much fun in your time off, but having a plan of what you are going to do can really help you achieve that balance. It’s very easy to just waste your time away and do nothing useful, and that is not quality time with the family.
Have some hobbies. Doesn’t matter what they are, just do something that you enjoy. It’s very important to take time for yourself as well as time with your family. It gives you that sense of self that so many of us seem to be lacking.
Above all, enjoy the time you spend outside of work, and if you don’t enjoy doing something then don’t do it!
My family time today
My wife and I have both been working really hard lately. Long hours, and not really spending quality time with the kids, so we needed to change that.
Today we had a great little outing to the city botanical gardens. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was nice to get out of the house and spend time with the family learning about nature. Of course we mostly just ended up at the park and got ice cream, but it was real quality time. Nobody was on their phones and everybody has just playing and having a good time. Even in the 35-degree heat.
We got the boat down the river to the gardens, wandered around, looked at the plants, fed the ducks and just generally had a good time. I was spending some of my time snapping away some cool photos, but we still had a great little family outing.
Here are some pictures from the morning.