Being a dad: a juggling act

Before your baby arrives, you can probably juggle making a living, enjoying your relationship and getting some time for yourself to follow interests or catch up with mates.

After baby comes along, you can expect some major changes to all three of these areas. There’ll also be a new thing to add to the juggling act – family time.

Every family is different, so it’s a matter of finding the work-life balance that’s right for you and your family. A good first step is working out what’s important to you and your family.

This takes time. Sometimes, a work-family arrangement that was working well needs to change as the needs of your family change. Your partner going back to work or study and your child starting child care or school are examples of times when you might think about making changes.

Why a good work-life balance is important

Good for you
Finding a work-life balance means you’re likely to feel:

  • less stressed and tired
  • more in control of your time
  • better able to make decisions and meet commitments
  • more healthy.

Good for babies and children
A good work-life balance matters because most of your baby’s brain development happens in the first year, with massive brain growth also going on up until your baby’s third birthday. And the love, affection and time that parents give babies during these early years directly influence this brain development.

In fact, children with dads who are involved and interested in their lives are more likely to have good health and wellbeing.

Good for your relationships
A good work-life balance also lets you develop better relationships with your child and your partner.

Fathers who are more satisfied in their relationship with their partner are more likely to spend time playing with their child and involving children in everyday activities.

Getting family time into your work-life balance

Taking some time off or reducing work hours when your baby is born can be a great start to family time.

You and your partner could talk together about what you’d like to do together as a family, both now and as your child grows. In the early days, it might be as simple as getting out for a walk. As your baby grows, you might enjoy sharing meals, playing games, going on outings or going on a family holiday.

As you plan your family time, it’s good to know that spending time and having fun together as a family will help your child feel a sense of belonging. And a sense of belonging is a vital building block for your child’s self-esteem.

Things you can do

  • See our 10 tips for new dads for more on making the most of time off work to get to know your baby.
  • Look into Dad and Partner Pay – two weeks of government-funded parental leave for eligible dads in the first year following birth or adoption.
  • Think about how you spend your time. You might need to change some habits and routines to make time for your growing family.
  • Be involved in your children’s everyday routines and their special occasions. Even when your child is a newborn, you can build time together into your day – for example, it might be your job to bath your baby. As your children grow, you can do things like taking them to playgroup, dropping them at child care or school or helping with homework, sport or music.