Fatherhood adds a new dimension to our lives that sometimes is overlooked leading up to the birth of our new additions. When my daughter was born, I was caught up in the excitement of having a child that my new role really didn’t set in for a few weeks. It was after I returned to work that I truly realized it was no longer just my wife and me; I was helping to provide for my daughter as well. We now had the responsibility of our little girl and needed to do whatever it took to do so. So, like a number of men with this epiphany, my first reaction was to dive deeper and deeper into work. Unfortunately for me, that was not very fulfilling in the long run. I ultimately was at a loss when it came to managing this new area of my life. I became unhappy with how my work and home life didn’t seem to mesh very well.
When my wife returned to work, I took a week off to help her ease back into her new routine. During that week home with my 4-month old, I realized that what I was missing most was spending one on one time with her. I wanted to be as hands on as possible and build a relationship from an early age. In order for this to happen, something needed to change in my routine. I needed to figure out how to balance my work responsibilities and still be fulfilled as a dad.
My solution was to start changing my priorities. I had to remain working to help support the family; so how else could I get more time with my daughter if I wasn’t home? I started to work from home a few days a week. I am privileged to work for a company that allows more agility at work so that we can spend more time with our families. By doing this, it allowed me to watch my daughter throughout the day and be able to interact with her for more than a few hours at night. As she grew and my work demands changed, I started to block out lunch dates where I would pick her up from the sitter and take her to a Gymboree class in the middle of the day. This became a standard appointment on my calendar. She loves Gymboree and I enjoy having the ‘daddy and me’ time. In looking for other ‘daddy and me’ activities, I came across the NYC Dads Group. This amazing group of dads has been a resource of activities and support. I started to volunteer with my daughter on Saturdays at New Dad Boot Camp, which I often feel that I walk away getting more out of the experience then the “expectant dads”. By making these changes, I was able to maintain my job and fit in ‘daddy and me’ activities throughout the week, where time allowed; it also made a big impact on my relationship with my daughter.
As a family, my wife and I became members of the Long Island Children’s Museum and Wildlife Conservation Society, which offer many activities for us to enjoy as a family. Seeing how fast our daughter’s first year has passed, we realized that if we don’t take the time now to do these things with her, we would be missing out on making many fun memories.
The key for me to obtaining the balance I wanted was the willingness to try new things and step out of my comfort zone. I tend to be a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of guy, not ‘Mr. Social’. Finding the NYC Dads Group was one of the best things I did for myself in 2012. I needed to really push myself to get involved and not only did I make several new friends, but it also turned out to be a great experience for my daughter to meet other children.
About the author
Dan G. is an involved father to a 15-month old daughter Christina. Dan found the NYC Dads Group in 2012 and has become an involved member both with meetups and our New Dads Bootcamp. This is Dan’s second time as a gust blogger for our site. Follow Dan on Twitter: @NYCDanG