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Working from home lets parents strike balance

FATHER AND SON: Ben Pepper says he's happy to have extra time to play with nine-month-old Charlie as a work-from-home dad.
FATHER AND SON: Ben Pepper says he's happy to have extra time to play with nine-month-old Charlie as a work-from-home dad. Sophie Lester

WHEN baby Charlie is being laid down to bed, dad Ben Pepper is usually just getting started with his night classes.

The MMA instructor and his partner Sara Farnham both run their own businesses - Grow Strong MMA and Optimal Life Chiropractic - from their Myall Avenue home.

He said the set-up gave the couple extra flexibility to take care of their nine-month-old son.

"We make a good team,” Mr Pepper said.

"Because most of my stuff is at night, I'll be the one to wake him up and we'll have a bit of a play and go for a walk to get a coffee and stroll around town at about 6am.

"It gives Sara some extra time to sleep in the morning and then she baths him and feeds him and puts him to bed while I'm starting classes in the evening.

"I have a lot of respect for stay-at-home mums because kids are a lot of work.”

A new study of 3000 Australian dads has found they are working longer hours - an average of 44 hours a week, with 21.5% working greater than 55 hours a week.

The research claims the long hours parents spend working away from their kids is having a profound impact on the mental health of children.

For Mr Pepper, getting to spend extra time with Charlie is the best perk of working from home.

But he says quality time is the most important factor, even if those times are infrequent.

"It's been nice to spend so much time while he's so little,” Mr Pepper said.

"I think as long as you're putting in that time and giving them love and affection when you can, that's all that matters.

"I wouldn't say other dads working more is detrimental to their kids, as much as I love being around Charlie.”

Dr Farnham said she felt lucky to be able to give Charlie equal time with both of his parents.

"I'm grateful to have Ben around a lot more than I know most mums have,” she said.

"We know that it's not a very common set-up but when we found out we were going to be parents we just had to make it work for us.

"It means we can both do what we love and spend time with our son and while we've had to learn as we go as new parents we can't imagine life without him.”

Topics:  mma


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