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Dad U: How Fathers Navigate Work-Life Balance

Dad U: How Fathers Navigate Work-Life Balance

Learn how Salesforce helps new fathers achieve work-life balance.

Becoming a father and managing a career can be logistical gymnastics. You’re trying to spend more time with your family at a pivotal stage, while commitments between you, your co-workers, and management proposes a challenge. It’s important to be able to navigate this, be where you need to be, and find ways to stay connected.

From how to plan your paternity leave to the best ways to leverage technology as not to miss a beat at work or home, we’ve got some tips for you.

Vivienne Wei, product capacity and strategy principal at Salesforce and author of Labor Force, a book that helps women navigate the workplace in their transitions to motherhood, recently moderated a Fatherhood Panel at Salesforce’s headquarters in San Francisco. She assembled a team of active, involved fathers who shared their experiences and offered some helpful tips so working dads of the world can be better set up for success.


image of fatherhood panel

Plan at work

Telling your manager that you’re expecting can be a major stressor due to job and team expectations and commitments. As Vivienne highlights, “one of the reasons why people may be reluctant to take the full leave — even when they’re so blessed to have it — is because of the unspoken bias in the workplace, and concerns [that] maybe you miss out on great work opportunities.”

However, as workplaces have evolved, that’s become less of an issue.

In truth, you may find your bosses will be excited for you! Half of the Office of Equality Director James Loduca’s team encouraged him to take advantage of the full 26-week leave offered by Salesforce. And in the case of VP of Engineering at Airbnb Mike Curtis, being pregnant was not a consideration when he promoted a woman on his team, even though she was about to be on maternity leave. She happily accepted, and the team worked to accommodate her because she was the best person for the job.

So, fear not, teams are understanding, and taking leave doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in for a career setback.

In planning for paternity leave, dads-to-be might not realize that it doesn’t have to be one long stretch away from the office either. In fact, checkering at-home shifts with your spouse over the first 6-12 months is one strategy. Although it’s worth noting that rushing back to work when out of sync can be a mistake; it’s important to ease back in. So, be cognizant of both scenarios, and plan accordingly.

Plan childcare with your partner

Another way to be on top of it as a dad is to establish caregiving roles early on, which can include outside help. Salesforce’s Senior Vice President of Business Operations Ari Schmorak went the route of hiring an au pair. “There are options out there,” he told the crowd. “That’s the first thing we did, was just trying to find what works for us, and a little help managing.”

Beyond that, communication is key: understanding which parent does what, having clarity on each other’s travel schedules, making dinner, driving kids to activities, and simply finding time for work, each other, and for yourselves.

Tactically speaking, Vivienne and her husband take time each Sunday to plan for the week ahead using a whiteboard. Head of SMB at LinkedIn Luis Costa swears by his shared Google calendar that includes travel schedules, activities, and school events, where the couple plans as far as a month out.

group picture of fatherhood panel

More fatherhood tips

What’s overlooked at times is that the child isn’t the only one in need of care.

“When your kid is really little and a baby, they gravitate to their moms, they need their moms,” Mike shared. “As a dad, it can kind of feel like, ‘am I helping or am I getting in the way?’ Which can maybe lead to letting mom default to taking the responsibility or doing the thing that the baby needs at that time. You can help more than you think and it’s okay to get in there. In this type of relationship if baby wants mom, get in there anyway and do it.”

To Mike’s point, Luis added, “It’s in those early stages, it’s natural to focus on the baby.”

“There’s so much being asked of the mom in those early periods that my focus should be on making sure that she’s got what she needs. Like, her focus is so much on that child that often she sacrifices her own care. So, is she hydrated, is she fed, is she getting enough sleep? All those things.”

This is one example of possible differences between spouses’ responsibilities.

Doing it your way

One of the better takeaways came from James, who is in a same-sex marriage and has dealt with his share of scrutiny. His advice? Kick the judgment to the curb.

“We have felt as a same-sex couple, where we don’t have a mother, an enormous amount of pressure to get it right.

"’Oh why are you holding your child that way?’ or ‘Your baby’s crying, clearly they need you and you’re not doing it right.’ That’s a tape every new parent has in their head. And we have it, I think tenfold, by virtue of being a same-sex couple.”

While James and his spouse have dealt with this, he feels this can apply to all couples.

"You know what’s best for your kid; you know what’s best for your family. Absolutely no one else does. And there are going to be a lot of people in your journey who think they’re in a position to advise you. And if you throw out those tapes and focus on what you need, what your family needs, it unlocks the ability to have fun and enjoy."

Alternative work styles

Working remotely is becoming the new norm, and apps like Google Hangouts and Drive make working from home more doable than ever. Since documents connect in real-time, and you’re still able to get face time with your colleagues, being away from the office doesn’t need to impact work.

You can even request less travel for the first 12 months. And when you’re on the road and away from home, fitting in FaceTime sessions during dinner or even reading a bedtime story through the app are ways to not miss a beat as a parent. You may even come off looking like Super Dad.

Balancing fatherhood and a career isn’t the easiest multitask in the world, but knowing what to expect can help you along the way. With open communication, strategic scheduling, and the benefit of today’s technology and work flexibility, you can make a happy home all while continuing to drive your career.

Watch the full Modern Day Parenting: Fatherhood Panel on YouTube. Explore Salesforce’s childcare benefits, and learn more about Little Ohana.

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