Lessons from “The Incredibles” — Finding Work-Life Balance

A sneak peek at Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles 2 was released last night during a commercial break for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The much-anticipated family film (a follow up to 2004’s The Incredibles) looks to cover the modern reality of stay-at-home fathers, finding work-life balance, and every parent’s struggle of trying to raise children who become healthy, well-adjusted adults.

The brilliance of the first Incredibles film was the way it flawlessly and humorously depicted modern family life (well, except for superpowers). Mr. Incredible faced the reality of working at a mundane and frustrating job that ultimately kept him away from following his true passion: helping others. These frustrations with work kept him isolated from his wife and children. Meanwhile, Mrs. Incredible struggled with keeping the household afloat while trying to wake her husband up to the reality that his focus on the past kept him from enjoying the present.

The movie struck a chord with so many due to its relatability for adults in the midst of the parenting struggle. Who didn’t laugh (to keep from crying) while Mr. Incredible sat miserably in traffic in his tiny car only to arrive home to a chaotic household? The movie worked because it gave hope to parents in the same situations — some facing even more chaos with two working parents.


Many parents today face the reality of needing two incomes in order to support their families and lifestyle, and modern women also want the ability to pursue their own careers. In 2015, 46 percent of two-parent households consisted of both parents working full-time. This number has risen from 31 percent in 1970.

Today’s parents face a difficult task: balancing their career, passions, and their families. As seen in The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible has to choose between a career that supports his family, his desire to assist others, and making time for his wife and kids. Because it’s a children’s movie, by the end of the 115 minute run time, he is able to successfully combine his passion for helping others and family time by including his wife and kids in his heroic duties. For the rest of us, it may take longer to achieve this balance.


Among Full-Time Working Parents, More Dads Say They Don’t Spend Enough Time with their KidsThe same Pew study that found 46 percent of two-parent households consist of two full-time working parents, also found that 50 percent of full-time working fathers feel they spend too little time with their children. While only 39 percent of full-time working mothers feel the same, 40 percent of those moms said they “always feel rushed” compared to 29 percent of part-time and stay-at-home moms.

So, what can be done?

  • Unplug from your phone for as many hours as possible once home from the office. Dedicate after-hours time to your family along with personal time for yourself.
  • If you have passions and hobbies outside of your job (as most people do), involve your family so you don’t feel you have to sacrifice one for the other. Teach your kids how to garden, fix motorcycles, woodwork, or perform your favorite yoga moves. If your passion involves helping others or volunteering, take the kids with you when possible. This will all be beneficial for them in the end as they learn new skills and get to spend time with mom and dad.
  • Overworked? Take a step back and consider what can be done to get home on time or to limit the time spent working from home after hours. Speak to your boss and be honest about needing more time with the family if overtime becomes consistent or detrimental.
  • Find the best solution with your spouse on how to split household duties when both parents are working. Get the kids to help out! Teach your children that as part of the family, it’s also part of their responsibility to help out and pull some of the weight where appropriate. This helps children feel they are part of the team.

In the new trailer for The Incredibles 2, it seems Mr. Incredible will face a new challenge, life as a stay-at-home dad while Mrs. Incredible takes over saving the day. We’ll have to wait and see what advice Disney/Pixar offers when the film releases in June, but we can’t wait to see how the film tackles another reality for the modern parent. If it’s anything like the first one, it will involve a lot of self-sacrifice and understanding — the true modern love story for today’s American family.


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