How work stress affects fathers

Dad and teenage son working on a laptop together

If you’re a small business owner, chances are that at one point or another, you’ve called your business ‘your baby’. You created it, you’ve watched it grow, you’ve spent many late nights taking care of it. So what happens then when you become a parent? How does parenthood change the way you work?

This International Men’s Day (19 November) we’re tipping our hats to the dads out there who run small businesses while raising children.

To keep your energy levels going strong – both at work and at home – we encourage you to think about your stress levels. Stress can impact both the way you feel about your business and how connected you feel to your kids, making it an important emotion to manage.

Read on to learn more about stress and to figure out where your stress levels lie – as well as what you can do to manage your stress.

Unique challenges of running a small business and juggling your family life

There are many unique challenges when it comes to running a small business and juggling your family life.

Here are several examples of the ways that running a small business impacts your family life:

You work non-traditional hours

Small business owners will be the first to tell you that their work doesn’t fit between the regular 9am to 5pm. Sometimes, you work early mornings. Other times, you work late nights. This makes it difficult to maintain a routine with your child or children, especially when they’re in school during the day. You might even find yourself missing out on after-school activities because of your business’s needs, which can be frustrating for everyone.

Your home is your office

If you run your small business from your home office, you’re blending together your work and your family life. You might find yourself returning to work after putting the kids to sleep or cooking dinner in between meetings. This amount of multitasking can rock your sense of balance.

After the baby, you feel a new sense of financial stress

It’s well-known that raising children makes a dent in your bank account. This might make your small business’s financial success essential, loading you with financial worries.

Your business’s success is your responsibility

Unlike larger enterprises that have multiple decision-makers, your business’s success lands on your shoulders – sometimes without others around you to help you take the load. This makes work feel incredibly high stakes, which leads to a competition for your time between your responsibilities at work and your responsibilities around the home. You may even feel like you have difficulty setting boundaries.

You wear multiple hats

Before you have children, you wear the boss hat, employee hat, bookkeeper hat, graphic designer hat, and many more while running your business. Once you have a baby, however, you add one more very large hat: the father hat. It may feel stressful for you to carry out so many roles, especially when it comes to multitasking or prioritising your to-do list.

You have trouble being present

You might find yourself thinking about your business even when you’re at home. And that shows your passion for what you’re doing! However, it may become an issue if you aren’t capable of being emotionally present with your children.

How stressed are you? Take this quiz to find out

Do any of the above situations sound familiar to you? If so, you might have a higher level of stress. You might also have a higher level of stress if you experience any of the following:

  • regular headaches
  • tight muscles, especially those in your face or neck
  • difficulty sleeping at night
  • sleeping too much during the day
  • conflict with loved ones without obvious cause
  • upset stomach or heartburn unrelated to food intake

To find out where your stress levels lie, check out the Dad Stress Test created by Beyond Blue. Beyond Blue is an excellent resource to turn to in times of overwhelming emotion. Their stress test – which only takes a few minutes to complete – will share with you a rating of your stress levels. You’ll get information about how to mitigate this stress, if possible. You’ll also find information about fatherhood and other elements on mental health, including ideas about how to find a balance between work and family life.

So, you’re stressed. What do you do next?

If your stress levels are high, then it’s time to do something. Whether you’re stressed about your small business or your family life, there are resources for you to use to feel better.

Visit Business Victoria’s Workplace wellbeing hub to find the tools you need to get your stress levels down while also getting professional or financial advice for your business. There, you can find support for both yourself and your business, all in one place – even information about how to make your business a healthy place to work for employees.

Finding the tools you need to manage your stress levels will help you be more present with your children, feel secure about your business, and go to sleep feeling healthy, whole, and engaged. International Men’s Day encourages men to check in with your stress levels and take action to manage this stress and find resources to help.