From the Gen X Files… “Daddy Day Camp”

Managing the balance of work and life

As the summer draws to a close, it’s become a family tradition for my wife and I to each take a separate week off to spend time with/entertain our children (ages 10 and 8). Besides being a great way to save money on daycare, it’s also a fun way to spend quality time with our kids before sending them off to a new grade and/or new school.

For this year’s Daddy Day Camp, the kids and I went bowling, walked to the library, threw a ball around in the park with the dog, met Mom for ice cream, and watched a few movies. (Parenting tip: every Xer parent should watch the Back to the Future trilogy with their kids to see them react to the amazing special effects and get engrossed by the story.) We finished our week with a trip to Wild Mountain for a day of water slides, go-karts, and general chaos. It was a blast!

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the flexible team at BridgeWorks and our owner who understands the importance of work-life balance. She knows what it means for Xer parents like myself to be able to get away from the office once in a while; sometimes we’d rather watch our kids sleep than attend another office meeting! Because I work in such an understanding and flexible culture, I’ve had to master the art of work-life balance in the office and out. Admittedly, the hardest part of being gone is that I miss something fun or a new inside joke. Luckily the Millennials are always sure to text me the latest story, often in emoji. (This was last Wednesday's encrypted joke: Screenshot 2014-09-02 12.15.16.)

Here is my guidance for the Gen Xer balancing work and life:

#1 - Make pre-camp to-do lists.
I made it a point to touch base with everyone on the team before I left to make sure no one was left hanging. While most of our Millennial staff would be totally fine with a check-in via text (actually, they prefer it), a little face-to-face time is always helpful when delegating tasks while I’m out. And I know they appreciate it too. Not only are they eager to debrief the tasks when I get back, but their laughter at my latest “dad joke” seems more sincere than usual.

#2 - Embrace the "great compromise."
I think the “great compromise” I’ve reached is that while it is fine that I don’t take the office home with me when I leave during a normal week, it is totally fine to check e-mail and stay connected during camp week. It doesn’t take much effort to check my messages before the kids get up. Plus, it makes the transition back to the desk much more pleasant.

#3 - Enjoy camp.
While I may check some emails, I know that the BridgeWorks team wants me to enjoy the time away. After all, my daughter is going to middle school for the first time this year, so I’ve got to enjoy these camps while I can.

My wife and I end our weeks with the same question every year: who enjoys camp more… the parent or the kids?