What Paul Ryan's House Speaker Bid Conditions Say About Work-Life Balance

Rep. Paul Ryan spent days hearing out his Republican colleagues who pleaded with him to consider stepping into House Speaker John Boehner’s shoes.

On Tuesday night he said he would -- but there’s a catch.

"Tonight I shared with my colleagues what I think it will take to have a unified conference and for the next speaker to be successful. Basically, I made a few requests for what I think is necessary," Ryan said, starting off his announcement that he would run for House speaker.

Ryan, the Ways and Means Committee Chairman and former running mate of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, then went on to list the conditions under which he'd replace Speaker Boehner.

"The last point, the last is personal. I cannot and will not give up my family time," Ryan said.

Speaking from the Capitol on Tuesday night, Paul went on to stress that for him, "family commitment comes first."

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It was a remarkable moment. So rare do we hear a male politician, or any top leader outside the tech world, say so clearly: I will do this but on my terms and that includes family and work balance.

Ryan explained to the media last night his thinking process: "I considered to do this with reluctance, and I mean that in the most personal of ways. Janna and I have children in the formative foundational years of their lives," he said of his wife and children. “I genuinely worry about the consequences my agreeing to serve will have on [my children]."

But, Ryan also acknowledged the gravitas of the situation.

"My greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up, of someday having my own kids ask me, when the stakes were so high, why didn't you do all you could do?” Ryan said.

His communications director, Brendan Buck, released a statement that same night, saying that Ryan "made clear that family comes first."

"A successful speaker must be able to maintain a healthy work-family balance. Less time on the road can be compensated for with a greater focus on communicating our message to the public," he said in the statement.

Part of this is, of course, the fact that Ryan's children are young, whereas other top political leaders are more likely to have an empty nest. The Republican congressman from Wisconsin and his wife have three young children -- Elizabeth, Samuel and Charles.

But it could be a generational shift too.

Ryan is 45 years old and he's part of a generation of parents who are taking a more equal approach to child rearing and household duties.

However, there has also been pushback to Ryan's requests for weekends with his family.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, a leading conservative, bluntly told reporters this morning that being House speaker is not a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job.

"The speaker has to work on weekends," he said. "The time commitment is not 40 hours a week."

ABC News' Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

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