Reclaiming “Me Time” for Busy Working Dads: Embracing the Balance

Feeling like the gym habit has gone missing? That bit of you time you used to enjoy gone missing? Can’t justify spending money on yourself?

It hit me like a ton of bricks when I finally realised by saying yes to everything other than myself, I had become resentful, exhausted and on the verge of burnout.

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, many busy working dads like me find themselves reminiscing about the days when they had more time for themselves. Phrases like “I remember when…” or “I used to do that…” become common refrains to anyone who will listen as personal hobbies and self-care fall by the wayside in lieu or work and responsibilities at home. This shift often leads to a sense of resentment towards the life we have, overshadowing the joy of being both a dedicated parent and a professional. This article aims to highlight the importance of protecting “me time,” recognising that nurturing ourselves ultimately benefits our families and careers.

For more around overwhelm in the shape of struggling with mental capacity and the risk that this brings, please check out the article for dealing with mental load.

The Four Buckets of Dad Life

Take a step back for a moment and consider your priorities. I bet they float around work, business, money or being present as a Dad for the kids at home? But where do you fit in all this? From all the Dads In Business work we see Dad life often falling into four main buckets: work life, money life, family life, and self. In the pursuit of excelling at work, securing financial stability, and being present for our families, we frequently sleepwalk into neglecting ourselves. This unintentional oversight can lead to a gradual erosion of our well-being, affecting every aspect of our lives.

The Changing Role of Modern Dads

The role of fathers has evolved significantly over the years. Today’s dads are more involved in their children’s lives than ever before, balancing demanding careers with active parenting. While this shift is positive, it also adds pressure to be the best in both realms, often at the expense of personal well-being. Understanding this dynamic is the first step towards reclaiming time for oneself.

Perhaps a better understanding of the decisions we make and the impact they have might help reconnect with our priorities, get stuff done and find time for you! Check it out on the Dads In Business blog.

The Consequences of Neglecting "Me Time"

When dads neglect their own needs, the repercussions are far-reaching. A lack of personal time can lead to:

  1. Burnout: Constantly juggling work and family responsibilities without breaks can result in physical and mental exhaustion.
  2. Resentment: Missing out on personal passions and downtime can breed resentment towards work and family, diminishing the joy in both.
  3. Decreased Effectiveness: Without adequate rest and relaxation, performance at work and home suffers. We cannot bring our best selves to either role when we are depleted.

Overcoming the Guilt of "Me Time"

Many dads struggle with guilt when taking time for themselves, feeling that they are neglecting their family or work responsibilities. Overcoming this guilt is crucial for maintaining personal well-being:

  1. Reframe Your Perspective: Understand that “me time” is not a selfish indulgence but a necessary component of being a better parent and professional. It’s an investment in your overall effectiveness and happiness.
  2. Set a Positive Example: Taking care of yourself sets a positive example for your children. It teaches them the importance of self-care and balance.
  3. Quality Over Quantity: Focus on the quality of time spent with your family rather than the quantity. Being well-rested and fulfilled allows you to be more present and engaged during family interactions.

Communicating with Your Spouse

Open communication with your spouse is essential to gain support and understanding for your need for personal time. Here are some tips for having this conversation:

  1. Choose the Right Time: Find a moment when both of you are relaxed and free from distractions to discuss your needs.
  2. Express Your Feelings: Share your feelings honestly, explaining how the lack of personal time is affecting you and your ability to be the best partner and parent.
  3. Highlight Mutual Benefits: Emphasise how taking time for yourself will not only benefit you but also improve your relationship and family dynamics. A happier, more balanced you will contribute to a happier home.
  4. Propose a Plan: Suggest a realistic plan for incorporating “me time” into your schedule. Be open to adjustments and compromises to ensure it works for both of you.
  5. Be Supportive in Return: Encourage your spouse to also take time for their own interests and self-care, creating a balanced approach to family life.

The Case for "Me Time"

Protecting personal time is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Here’s why:

  1. Improved Mental Health: Taking time for activities you enjoy reduces stress and boosts mental well-being.
  2. Enhanced Relationships: When you are content and fulfilled, your interactions with family improve. You become more patient, present, and positive.
  3. Increased Productivity: Breaks and leisure activities rejuvenate the mind, leading to greater creativity and efficiency in professional tasks.

Sometimes, life can throw things at us that we don’t particularly enjoy but we know are necessary to help us achieve our greater goals. Checking in with our resilience might help here and can lead us away from the guilt feeling and to more a place of self-awareness.

Strategies for Reclaiming "Me Time"

Balancing “me time” with family and work commitments requires intentional effort. Here are some practical strategies:

  1. Schedule It In: Just as you would schedule a meeting or a family activity, carve out dedicated time for yourself. Treat it as non-negotiable.
  2. Set Boundaries: Learn to say no and delegate tasks when possible. Setting clear boundaries around work hours and family time helps create space for personal activities.
  3. Combine Activities: Look for ways to integrate personal interests with family time. For example, if you enjoy biking, make it a family outing.
  4. Start Small: If finding large chunks of time seems impossible, start with small, regular intervals. Even 15-30 minutes a day can make a significant difference.
  5. Mindfulness Practices: Incorporate mindfulness or meditation into your routine. These practices can help centre your mind and reduce stress, even during brief breaks.

Embracing the Change

Acknowledge that the role of a dad and a professional is dynamic. Accepting that these roles will continue to evolve can help mitigate frustration. Embrace the journey, recognising that taking care of yourself is integral to being the best dad and professional you can be.


Reclaiming “me time” is not about being selfish; it’s about self-preservation and effectiveness. By prioritising personal well-being, busy working dads can enhance their performance at work and deepen their relationships at home. It’s about finding a balance that allows you to thrive in all areas of life. So, take that time for yourself—you deserve it, and your family will thank you for it.

Further resources to help you find a little me time!


The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home” by Scott Behson: This book provides practical tips and strategies for balancing work and family responsibilities.

All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses–And How We Can Fix It Together” by Josh Levs: Levs discusses the challenges working fathers face and offers solutions for achieving better work-life balance.

Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All” by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober: This book explores how couples can share responsibilities to achieve success in both their careers and family life.


I hate being called a good Dad!” by Matt Villano (New York Times): This article discusses the importance of personal time for fathers and offers practical advice on how to incorporate it into daily life.

The Case for a shorter work week” by Bryan Lufkin (BBC Worklife): This piece highlights the importance of work-life balance for fathers and explores different approaches to achieving it.

How to Be a Happier Working Parent” by Bruce Feiler (The New York Times): Feiler shares insights from his research on how working parents can find happiness and fulfilment in both their professional and personal lives.

From the Dads In Business YouTube channel

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Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

Download our free guide to help employers create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for men and dads.