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3 Assertive Ways to Get More Time with Your Kids

3 assertive ways to get more time with your kids

As a dad, one of your biggest challenges is probably finding more time to spend with your kids.

Each day only has 24 hours and there is nothing you can do about that, which means that the only way to find more time for your kids is to redirect time you spend on other activities.

I am willing to bet that one of the highest demands on your time comes from your job, along with any auxiliary activities it entails such as preparation, commuting and so on. Well, your job also presents the best opportunity to redirect time and thus have more time to spend with your kids.

Now I realize this is easier said than done, which is why I’d like to actually show you 3 effective techniques you can use to make this happen.

All these techniques revolve around the concept of assertiveness. To be assertive means to put taking care of your needs first and to express yourself openly in your relationships with others, but from a position of respect towards others, not aggressively.

Assertiveness is something you can use in your career to effectively free up time and not let your job overwhelm your finite time resources. Here are the 3 specific ways you can do this:

1. Practice Saying “No”

You probably end up dedicating a lot more time to your work than you’d like to, because others in the workplace ask for it and you just don’t say “no”.

Your boss asks you to stay overtime repeatedly and each time you agree, even though you don’t really want to. Some of your colleagues ask you for help regularly and you end up working late in order to help them get their job done, even though you’d prefer they do it on their own. And thus, you give others big chunks of your time.

This has to change. You need to deliberately practice politely but firmly saying “no” when people at work make demands on your time. Not all the time, just some of the time, when you believe you’re entitled.

I know refusing a request involving your time may be hard for you right now. My advice is to take it gradually. Say “no” to small requests first, and progressively move up to more important requests. Also, always bear in mind that your time is important and you have the right to not give others in the workplace more of your time than your job responsibilities demand.

The more you practice saying “no” and the more you apply this mindset, the easier it gets to say “no”.

2. Try to Obtain Work-From-Home Days

If you would work from home some of the time and eliminate part of your daily commute, you would surely be able to spend a lot more time with your kids.

And doing at least some work from home is very likely possible in your job logistically speaking. All you need to do is get your employer to allow it.

Personally, I’ve coached several clients and helped them convince their employer to let them work from home 1, 2 or 3 days per week. The essential thing is to ignore any doubts you may have and actually go to your manager and ask them for this. And have a few persuasive arguments why they should approve your request.

You may feel some social awkwardness when doing this. It’s because you’re making a request of a superior that you’re not used to. Trust me: it will be fine. Ignore the awkwardness and do it.

Ideally, at first just suggest your manager to let you work one day per week at home for a couple of weeks, just as an experiment. If that goes well and your productivity stays the same or it actually improves, then you have a case for asking to make this permanent. Then perhaps to add one more work-from-home day, and then even another.

If your manager sees that you working from home doesn’t cause any problems, they value you as an employee and they know this is something important to you, you’re very likely to pull it off and end up doing part of your job from the comfort of your own home.

3. Find a Better Employer

Sometimes no matter how much you try to say “no” and you endeavor to negotiate the use of your time at work, you still can’t free up too much of it.

The dynamic of the company you work for is of such a nature that it constantly puts a high demand on your time and you have little control over this. Maybe you’re in an organization with a lot of emphasis on hard work and little respect for family life, or you have very rigid managers and colleagues; who knows?

Fortunately, if you’re a professional who has a lot to offer, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to find a job in a company with better conditions and less strenuous demands on your time. You will need to be proactive though: search for jobs, send your resume and go to interviews. A better job won’t just fall in your lap. But as long as you take action diligently, results will happen.

The key idea to consider is that you deserve to have a decent amount of time to spend with your kids. Your work isn’t your entire life, it’s only a component of your life, and you have the right to put some clear boundaries on how much time you’re willing to invest in your work.

Do your job well and show commitment to it, but don’t let it absorb all your time and suck the life out of you. That’s what being assertive is all about, and that’s how you find more family time.

Guest Writer: Eduard Ezeanu coaches people who are shy and helps them become more outgoing, both in personal and professional situations. He believes that social confidence is a key factor in having a fulfilling life. You can read other articles from him on his two blogs, People Skills Decoded and Art of Confidence.


  1. Reiss says:

    I am not a Dad yet – hopefully one day but if not then hey ho – however I found this article quite interesting. On one hand it is about being assertive, and on the other it is about being a good Dad. I like the mix of the two together. I think if a lot of Dads read this and put it into practice they may even enjoy life a lot more.