When I was pregnant with my first child, one of the main questions I was asked was “are you going back to work?”. My husband was (as far as I am aware) was never asked about his work plans. There is an assumption in many professional and personal circles that the working life of a Dad carries on as usual. That there is no break in the stride of progression or working hours.
By not asking these questions, are we making Dads feel like they can’t change their work? Are we, in part, complicit in the gender equality issues that I and so many other discuss?
I decided to open the “floor” to three Dads and asked them the question “What do you want to want out of your career now that you have children?”
I always felt like that something was missing in my career, I would describe is as erratic – lots of different roles as I was searching to fill that gap. I studied Finance and Economics and used this is a variety of ways, from Advertising to within the Police force. It got to a point where these roles ground me down, so three months before my daughter was born, I took a leap of faith and left my job as an Analyst.
Leaving meant that I could give my wife the emotional and physical support she needed for the last part of her pregnancy. Financially I needed to work, so I took a part-time role in a local coffee shop. It meant that I could be around for more than just weekends for my daughter and could support my wife too.
This dramatic change was a catalyst for what I am doing now. It gave me the headspace and time that a “typical” domestic setup doesn’t allow for. So many people said I was “bonkers” for giving up what was seen as a “good job”. Even in 2016, a Dad is seen as the person to bring in the money and if that means sacrificing family time, so be it.
Obviously it meant cutting back financially, but no amount of money can pay for the experiences I have had from our family making this decision. Both of us having flexible arrangements means we can work around our energy levels, and support each other’s career aspirations whilst having a family dynamic that suits us all.
This balance was one of the catalyst of setting up Impact Hub, which feels like raising another child! We have created a co-working space where pre-school children can be with their parents whilst they are working on building their business.
My advice for new Dads? Pay attention to your mindset. Don’t get trapped in the idea that your role is “provider of money” Make sure you are open to emotional support too; the little acts really add up.
As a professional sports person, the sport is your life. Your days centred on training and resting and then the weekends are games. The rest of the time I had a “legitimate excuse” to rest up. My daughter was born as my playing career was coming to an end, I had to start considering what my next step would be once I couldn’t play anymore.
Becoming a coach was the next natural step, and the timing meant that I could be at home a lot more with the children. I won’t lie, it’s hard; I can’t just stop and rest up like the pre-kids days. My wife is amazing; she has just started a degree herself to retrain, so we are a tag team at home; having two under four is tiring!
I am lucky that there is great flexibility in my industry – you put 100% into it when you are on the field and then I work to give 100% with my family. It is hard as you can feel pulled in two directions but it works. I concentrate on quality over quantity; being engaged and present where ever you are.
The greatest change for me career wise is the desire to stay grounded and stay put. Career wise I have moved around a lot and I love the community that has been built here; friends, family and the children’s schooling.
The best advice I can give a new Dad? Nothing can prepare you for the feelings and experiences of being a father; you may feel like you don’t know what to do and how to handle the kids. Hang on there, it is totally worth it!
Honestly, I didn’t have a career plan; there were no goals no targets. I stumbled into my profession and was fortunate enough to progress through hard work and ability. So natural progression would best define my pre fatherhood career.
When my eldest (who is nearly eleven) entered the world, there was no conscious change or impact to my career. My job was a means to an end. However becoming a father has ultimately encouraged me to focus on the future and what I want from my career. Money used to my main driver, now I have more value on job satisfaction and time management.
My “why” is now a healthy balance of job satisfaction, professionalism and reward; financial and otherwise.
My advice to a new Dad? Take time to recognise what your family needs from you now and prioritise their needs with that of your aspirations for your career. You need to allow yourself time to adjust and don’t expect to know it all straight away. Observe and quiz your peers, parents love to talk to new parents. It rekindles the emotions they felt when they first became parents and they have a wealth of knowledge and experience you can tap in to. Enjoy it as it flies by!
What advice would you give a new Dad? Join The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox and share your insight!