Family Time Advocate

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Family Time Advocate

May 11, 2020

I’m a teacher, wife and mom of a very proud soon-to-be big sister. My blogs highlight the happy and humorous moments of parenting. I love music, writing, the outdoors and mommy-ing and I enjoy sharing how kids have a magical way of making favourite past-times like these even better.

Family time.  Work Life Balance.  These are ideologies that, at their face, most people agree with.  But when it gets down to the nitty gritty, and what achieving these actually takes and the real sacrifices that need to be made, a lot fewer people are willing to make family time and true work life balance happen.  And when you throw the whole mom vs dad expectations vs reality aspect into the mix it creates, well, it creates whatever you let it create.  Today, I’m writing about being an advocate for family time as the female.

As women, work/life balance is thrust upon us from the time we find out we’re expecting (or in many cases even before).  We don’t drink, abstain from risky activities, take our prenatals religiously, monitor fertility, and a host of other things all while the baby is still but a thought.  And these sound like simple acts, until you break down the consequences these things have for work socialization, being able to get out the door in a timely manner in the morning, arranging appointments amidst all kinds of other pressing matters and a list of other things so long I could fill the rest of this blog.  Point in case, our balance between children and work is bestowed upon us before the kids exist often and definitely before they are born.

Because of this reality, it can be difficult and frustrating for us sometimes to understand the inner struggle that so many men feel about work/life balance.  We’ve always had a relatively balanced work-life life.  It’s not always easy, in fact, it never is, but it happens none the less.  And many of us are left thinking, ‘be like us.  Just do what we do.’ To our male counterparts.  But it’s not that simple.

Straight up, guys are not getting much support from anywhere to strike a family-work life balance.  It’s a nice sentiment and a touted buzz-word.  But when push comes to shove, our world is largely money motivated and there’s no money in being a dad and husband.  There’s positive character building, and joy and satisfaction and well-being, and in the long run all of these things support success, but offer no immediate money.

Women’s employers are largely the same as men’s, but for some reason we get a little bit of a break in some cases.  Or if we don’t, we push the boundaries anyways.  Our kids are sick, we’re the moms, we stay home.  We tell our employers we are sick instead, or we meticulously arrange other places for our kids, or we’re on mat-leave or with our kids at home during the day, and we somehow make it all work out.  Often guys help out, or do some of the arranging, but whether they do or not, we always will.  Our kids are always taken care of no matter what, because we’re it.  Biologically, we have been from the beginning, and even with the most hands on dad in the world, we are always that last set of arms for our kids that will always put other things to the side, no matter how important, no matter what the cost, because we are moms and that’s what we have always and will always do.

So, in light of this, I appreciate the term, family advocate.  I advocate for our family.  This doesn’t mean my hubby’s not helpful, and a great dad, and the best life partner.  But no one else is an advocate for our family.  Employers will never advocate for family time, outside commitments will never advocate for your kids’ time with their dad.  You are the advocate, and that’s a very important thing.  The world, if left to its own devices, would shred family time down to nothing and it is our job to protect it.

So remind the man in your life about the book he promised your daughter.  Gently talk about when your family needs more evening time to hang out.  It’s not nagging, it’s not being  house-wifey, it’s an incredibly important thing.  But remember, it’s advocating. It’s a positive responsibility, not a fight.  It takes skill and thoughtful understanding to be productive in these conversations. Developing these communicative skills, however, and engaging rather than dodging these issues is what truly builds a strong, healthy family dynamic.

As females, we’re not better than guys. Our experiences are no more important.  They are different.  And being different, we have unique things to offer to the relationship and our families. Being an advocate for family time is simply one of these things.

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