• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

David Hensley

How do you balance this equation? Restaurant work/home life

19 posts in this topic

I've been a professional chef for over 15yr. I've had children for almost 6yrs. How do you balance time spent fathering them, with time spent pursuing your craft? How do I explain to the kids that daddy has other things going on, and that they'll have to wait patiently? How do I show them the love that I have for my work? I love my children with all my heart, and I love my craft too. Can anyone give me any ideas about this? I'm seriously lost here....not just for my kids, but personally too...


I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actual balance between home life and work in this profession isn't something I've managed to find. So I try to maximize the home life time in terms of quality to hopefully compensate somewhat for what I can't give in quantity. If they've been living with it their entire life, they probably understand more than you're giving them credit for. My kid is almost 14. She's been living with my work requirements her entire life and she understands that sometimes I just can't be there for things I'd like to be and she'd like me to be. I don't know if she actually cares if I love what I do or not but she understands that I have to do it and is okay with that. That's good enough for me. I don't need her to love what I do as long as she knows I love her.


Edited by Tri2Cook (log)
3 people like this

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Give the kids what you can. Keep an eye out for jobs with a better schedule. Doing the most you can in your career may not be the most important thing. If you can't have time with them in quantity, quality time will have to do. A parent who actually listens to his kids accomplishes more than he thinks.

All these cliches are true.


Edited by gfweb (log)
3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went back to school and got an 8 - 5 job.

I miss the work, but my knees do not.

3 people like this

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It can be easier if you run your own business, kids come to work after school, hang out, do homework, help out a bit, help you cook dinner. We always managed to take 1 week off in January for our "winter escape" and a week off in August. Cooking is a lifestyle, no doubt about that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ask them to help! Even clean little hands can tear cheese, use a plastic grater for zest, sprinkle a pre-measured amount of salt, or use a pastry blender (the u shaped kind with a handle) to cut in shortning!

2 people like this

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went back to school and got an 8 - 5 job.

I miss the work, but my knees do not.

Very few jobs are 8-5. Work for the government may be.

Any good job means long hours, then you still bring work home and work on your own computer, e. mails, reports, etc.

Go to a train station's parking lot, and check out how many cars are park there 9, 10, 11 o'clock in the evenings.

dcarch

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe he works at a bank. Those hours sound normal for that kind of work.

Anyway, why would Mike lie?

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of careers involve trade offs between family and work. Many books have been written...

I'm kind of the opposite side. I gave up my career to be a stay at home parent. My spouse thrives on advancing her career, and probably more resembles you. I can give a different perspective. (I want to note that I became involved with cooking to provide our child with better, more nutritious food than the SAD diet.)

First, based on my experience, you are right on the border of the age where a child does/does not understand work obligations. At 5-6 years, there were lots of fits/battles/questions about work vs. family time. At 7 years, there is more understanding and acceptance. Not necessarily agreement, but acceptance.

Second, your love for your craft is something you can give them. Let them watch. Tell them why what you are doing is important. Equate the importance of what you are doing with the importance of what they do in school. Explain your logic when you are experimenting or creating new dishes. Let them judge your new dishes. I'm just translating here from my wife's work. Our kid has her own office, works on "documents", etc.

Third, in my experience and depending on your spouse's situation,the kids will seek your acceptance more so than your spouse's. They will seem needy and relentless for your attention. They will do things good and bad to solicit attention from you. My kid gave my wife several cards on my birthday - I got none.

I guess my attitude is that you should do what ya gotta do, but involve the kids. Don't shut them out. My parents raised me this way, and all turned out ok. My parents were raised that way too...

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lots of careers involve trade offs between family and work.

Exactly. When my kids and now my grand-kids were growing up I was often away because of work. Do I regret it? Of course, I do. But, that how I was able to provide for them.

What I always did / do was try to include them in any way possible. Turned knowing where I was into a game. They were equipped with a globe and maps and "looked for me.".

My eldest grand-daughter, now in teacher training, got into trouble in junior school and was accused of lying for always claiming in class that her granddad was/had been in every country the teacher mentioned in class. My daughter soon put that teacher right.

If kids have a stable and loving background, despite parents' careers or just jobs, they tend to be resilient.

I once asked my daughter if I should come back from the far East to see and share in my grandchildren growing up. Her answer was "Don't dare! They think it's really cool to have a "Chinese" grandfather! They get bragging rights at school!"

OK. It doesn't really match your circumstances, but I guess my point is to try turn the negatives into positives. And yes, most importantly include them!


Edited by liuzhou (log)
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All those who have chimed in have children and are trying to balance. I'd like to chime in as a single who has chosen not to have children yet precisely because of the schedule imposed on bakers and chefs by their jobs - as the child of another baker and a chef, I know what it's like and I would have liked to have a lot more time with my folks than I ever got. One of the biggest lessons that I learned from my (very loving!) parents was that it's nearly impossible to balance, but that hard work will get you very far in this world. As a result of my choice, I currently have very little home/personal life and almost 100% bakery life.

1 person likes this

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went back to school and got an 8 - 5 job.

I miss the work, but my knees do not.

Very few jobs are 8-5. Work for the government may be.

Any good job means long hours, then you still bring work home and work on your own computer, e. mails, reports, etc.

Go to a train station's parking lot, and check out how many cars are park there 9, 10, 11 o'clock in the evenings.

dcarch

Actually, the job I'm in now is 8 to 5 and not government. Previous jobs have been 8 to 5 plus, but no where near the hours I put in when I was in the biz.


That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was talking to the wife of the chef owner of a local 2 star restaurant and they decided to close on Sunday so they could have a day off to spend with their son. I'm not sure it's hurt their business because if you really want to eat there you adjust to meet their hours.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's important that your kids see you go to work and know why. Earning money to pay for important things like food and shelter but also that you love what you do for work. And don't forget you are still on your own journey....it's far more complex than theirs but just as important.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to take a moment to sincerely thank each and every one of you who took the time to reply! You answers have already helped me make some positive progress in this area, and I'm beyond grateful to all of you!

2 people like this

I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad, David. Happy New Year to you and yours!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

why don't you try a "bring your kids to work" day, so you can mix both lives instead of balancing them

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just tried that recently, Sara. Now my problem is that all four of my kids want to come to work with me...lol


I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Been doing this food thang for a long long time- coming on for 40 years..... there is no life work balance, just like any other professional artist/ craftsperson   my art is a large part of who I am. ,  and may indeed define who I am.  

 For me, I do not think  about "work life" or "home life",  it is all one and the same.

 It does help that my    marriage is to an artist  who has been known to stay up for 24 hours to get a minor detail correct in one of her pieces :)

 I consider my self lucky that I am able to forge a decent living from my art, something which a lot cannot do, and if I ever start to think of it as work I will stop.

 I do understand that a goodly proportion of my brigade do not have the same attitude, and,  as much as I can,  require  only a 40 hour week from them ( This is France where overtime is not well regarded), and  everyone gets at least one full weekend off a month, no one works split shifts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.