It’s notoriously difficult for parents to fit in early or end-of-day meetings. Between school pickup and drop-off (which only gets more complicated with multiple children) and coordinating with a spouse, partner or babysitter, things can get hectic and hard to manage quite quickly. That’s why it’s so important to be able to say no when commitments don’t fit into your schedule—which is exactly what Dave Gerhardt did when he backed out of a speaking gig.
Dave, father of two and VP of marketing at Boston-based sales company Drift, detailed on LinkedIn why he turned down the opportunity. “I backed out of a speaking gig because it was at 4:15 PM,” he said. “I said yes. Then realized – wait no. I leave at 4:30 to get home for daycare pickup, bath time, and bedtime.”
He could have moved some things around and found a way to make it work. But, he said, “it’s easier to be black & white on that vs. make exceptions, so I backed out.”
Dave rarely says yes to meetings before 9:30 or after 4. “It doesn’t always happen – and some travel gets in the way that I can’t miss. But overall, this has been my rule for the last 6 months.”
“I’m not sharing this because I want your praise,” Dave said. “I’m sharing this because I want people to know it’s possible. You can be great at work and at home. I’ll keep beating that drum.”
Dave’s commitment to his family is admirable—he’s also incredibly fortunate to have the option to turn down meetings and events to be with them. For a lot of employees, that’s simply not possible. Some companies have restrictive policies that parents can’t work around; while some parents can’t do without the pay.
Many commenters chimed in with their own thoughts and musings. Another father asked an important question of Dave; does the same ability to go home early or come in late extend to every member of the team?
One mother made a vital point. “For women (because of multiple responsibilities) if we are not twice as good daily to make up for this time management, it can take a toll on workplace relationships,” she wrote. “It’s a fine edged sword.”
Implementing family-friendly policy is a top-down effort. But when a manager is a parent, like Dave, other parent employees might be granted more flexibility than they would by a child-free boss. That’s why it’s important for Dave to talk about work-life balance publicly. “It should be reciprocated,” he said of the boss and parent employee relationship. “This is why I am sharing this type of content regularly.”