Dads deserve flexible work, too—here’s how to get it

1. Learn your employer’s policies on flexible schedules and telecommuting.

Dads deserve flexible work, too—here’s how to get it

For working women and men, flexibility seems to be an inevitable wave of the future.

“Organizations that can offer more flexibility around reduced time, caregiving leaves, and flex careers will have a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining employees as the aging workforce and dual focus on personal and professional lives among younger employees become increasingly important drivers in the labor market,” the Families and Work Institute, an expert work-life think tank, explains.

But based on the current trajectory, it will take far too long to get where we need to go.

“We’re making strides. Even five, ten years ago you wouldn’t have talked about flexibility on the job,” says Allison Karl O’Kelly, the founder of Mom Corps, a staffing firm that places mothers in flexible positions around the country which now counts at least 10 percent of their database as men.

“Still, I think this is something so ingrained in our culture and companies that it will take until our millennials are our CEOs for it to really take place.”

For new fathers, that is too long. So we need take action now.


As more men who support full gender equality become dads, there is an opportunity for us to be the generation of change.

Here are the top five steps men can take to get work flexibility, and greater involvement at home—

1. Learn your employer’s policies

...on flexible schedules and telecommuting. Find out about any other employees who have used these options. Also speak with people in positions similar to yours at similar companies— including, and especially, competitor agencies.

2. Ask your manager

...about the possibility of telecommuting and/or starting a flexible schedule. Remember you are not required to share any personal information.

3. Design and present a pitch

...for the type of schedule that would work for you. Just as with parental leave, present this pitch either in person or in writing, depending on how your employer operates and how you communicate best.

In the pitch, explain how you would get your work done, be accessible when needed, and ensure results. Use information and data in this book. Use this pitch even if your manager has said there’s no willingness to consider flexibility. You might change the company’s mind!

4. Set a time frame

You might not get an answer the next day or the next week. Explain in the kindest way possible that you need to know by a certain date because of developments in your private life. Make it clear you’re not threatening anything; you just need to plan.

5. Take it or look elsewhere

Take it:

If you’re given even just a bit of what you asked for, take it! You can show how well it works and be a pioneer. Fulfill all your work responsibilities and be prepared to show the results.

Other employees will be jealous of you and may snark. Don’t stoop to their level. Ignore the naysayers, and deliver results. Remember, you are standing up for your family and carving a path for others.

Look elsewhere:

If your employer refuses, look elsewhere for a job. Explain to prospective employers that this is a big reason you’re willing to make the move. Remember, you’re an American with a freedom that previous generations fought and died for. Use it!

Don’t be afraid to go somewhere in which the leadership respects and tries to accommodate you as a modern, committed parent.

Rise up:

When people ask me about my fight for paternity-leave fairness, I emphasize that there are all sorts of ways to rise up. So maybe you can’t take your employer to the EEOC for a sexist policy. Something you can do, however, is stand up for a schedule that makes sense.

There’s also something very simple that many big companies could offer right away that would make a huge difference. It would save money, attract and retain top talent, and help resolve a national crisis that affects tens of millions of people every day.

Join Motherly

This year many of us have a tighter budget than usual given (looks around) everything that has happened. Coupled with the uncertainty of what Halloween might look like, many of us are reluctant to spend money on brand new costumes that our kids will outgrow by next year. I get it. But I also know that many, like me, love Halloween so much. I thought about skipping the celebration this year, but that just feels like too big of a disappointment in an already disappointing year.

That's why I started looking into alternative costumes—something my kids will be able to wear once the clock hits November, and maybe even hand down to siblings and cousins in the coming years. At the same time, I'm not a DIY person, so I wanted outfits that didn't require any sewing or hot glue. Last year I attempted using one to build my son's Care Bear costume, and of course, I burnt my hand.

So with some creativity (and the brainpower of my colleagues), we came up with these costumes that are both fun and practical, made with items that your children will be able to (and want to!) wear year around:

Keep reading Show less

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

Keep reading Show less