Thanks a lot for this article, Yoni. I recognize a lot of the points you mention, and I think you have done a great service to all working dads out there.
My son is four years old now. I have always enjoyed being a father very much, and I cannot imagine not being “hands-on”. Because, otherwise, why do you get children at all?
I work slightly different hours, too. I come in earlier than most of my colleagues, and I leave earlier. I don’t do a lot of foosball, ping pong, or other breaks, because I want to get my work done (you’re never really done, of course) and leave. If I leave at 5pm, I’m home at around 6pm. My son goes to bed at 7:30pm. That gives me around 90 minutes with him per day, because more often than not, I leave the house in the mornings before he gets up. 90 minutes is not a lot. If somebody catches me on my way out for just a quick chat, and I miss a train because of that, that’s a 20 minutes delay, or roughly 25% of my daily dosage of being a father. To them, it’s just a small chat. To me, it is a painful loss of time with my son that I will never get back. Luckily, the people I work closely with know about this and understand it. However, I sometimes feel that others view it as a lack of commitment (see earlier comment above).
The fact that I leave early also means that I don’t spend as much time with my colleagues as I would like to. I have amazing colleagues who are not only very talented and smart, but also great persons. I would love to party with them more often, play pool, hang out and talk about non-work related things. People have asked me if I wouldn’t like to join the company choir, or this event, or that event. Any my answer is, in most cases, “no”, or rather: “I’d love to, but I can’t”. A day with an after-work activity is a day I don’t see my son, and I like to keep these days to a minimum. The result is that I am not as close with my colleagues as I would like to be.
Like you, I don’t do a lot of hackathons, and only few conferences. This puts me in a difficult position sometimes, because, as an engineering manager, I ask my people to take part in hackathons and go to conferences.
In short, it’s all a compromise, as many things in life. A compromise, though, that I would make again every single time. And besides: As a parent, you become better in prioritising, as well as at time management. And there are also a few other things that children can teach you that are useful in the workplace: https://www.tombartel.de/blog/three-things-your-children-can-teach-you-about-management/