How do dads balance the challenges of work, marriage and kids? How have their lives changed since becoming parents? We asked two fathers to give us the inside scoop.

Mitchell Leiman moved to Boston 10 years ago to attend business school and wound up getting a job in Boston and then meeting his wife on a blind date. He’s been married six years and has a 25-month-old daughter. He’s been working in management consulting for the last seven years.

How do you balance the different priorities in your life, including work, kids and your relationship?

created at: 2010-06-14Basically by learning how to live on four hours of sleep! All kidding aside, balancing work, kids and my marriage is a full-time juggling act. My incredibly demanding job in management consulting doesn’t make it any easier. I guess I’ve become much more disciplined with my time, and I’ve learned to say no to quite a bit of things and have cut back on doing some of the things I used to do for myself but which now seem much less important. I do my best to get home by 6 or 6:30 to spend one to two hours with my wife and daughter. From there, it’s back to work from my home office. I really try to carve out Friday night and the rest of the weekend to be exclusively family time. Overall, this is a constant battle, with each week posing new challenges, and I wouldn’t claim I’ve figured this out completely—not by a long shot.

How has your life changed since having your first child?

In every way! Life is completely different. Different priorities, different way I spend my time, and just an overwhelming joy of being a dad. People always told me how wonderful it would be to have a child, and while intellectually I thought I got it, I didn’t really appreciate it until it happened. Holding my daughter as an infant and realizing this defenseless, completely dependent little person is entirely relying on my wife and me and will someday grow to be a grown woman gives me an overwhelming sense of pride, joy and excitement (OK, and it freaks me out too). But as I watch my daughter grow, it’s the best experience of my life.

How did your own Jewish upbringing shape your parenting?

So far I think my Jewish upbringing has helped reinforce the value of family and tradition. We try to have Shabbat many Friday nights and spend lots of time with family, despite my daughter’s grandparents not being local. We also try to have our daughter experience as much as possible about our Jewish roots, including holidays, temple and other Jewish events. I imagine over time it will also reinforce our values and morals that we hope our daughter will share.

What’s the best Father’s Day gift you could receive?

Having a great, relaxing day with my favorite two people: my wife and daughter!

Ed Shems lives in Needham with his wife, Bree, and their 4-year-old son, Leo. He’s a freelance illustrator and graphic designer and is the president of the Boston chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild. When he’s not drawing, designing, gardening, cooking, grilling, eating, planning, playing, reading and showering, he’s sleeping (a little).

How do you manage your multiple priorities, including work and kids?

created at: 2010-06-14Since I run my own illustration/graphic design business, as well as a local chapter of a non-profit artists’ organization, it’s necessary to prioritize to get it all done properly, and to everyone’s satisfaction. So I have found it important to be realistic about my deadlines and not over-promise. This gives me a little leeway to run out and, say, drop in at my son’s classroom to read or teach the kids to draw monsters.

How has your life changed since you had children?

Well, to be honest, now that I have a child, I’m not as interested in what people think of me. I’m much more interested in what they think of my kid! Is that still narcissistic? Also, there’s a lot more working in tandem with my wife. I have friends without kids who will either go out together multiple times a week or each will do a different activity on any given night. Unless you win a good amount of money in the babysitter lottery, one of you is staying home—often both.

What are the Jewish values that shape your parenting?

For me, Judaism is about tradition. Growing up, my family had certain customs for each holiday and we would always look forward to them—a sort of nostalgia even when we were young. Beyond tradition, an important Jewish value is simply doing good.

What’s the best Father’s Day gift you could receive?

After sleeping in, I’d like to go on a simple hike with my wife and son, where I can tell my son things about nature that I don’t know much about and still he will be awed by my raw intelligence and ability to know tiny bits of random information. When I run out of those little bubbles of wisdom, we’ll switch over to talking about how Captain America got his powers and which superhero has the best bad guys.

To read an interview with a third working dad, click here.