Hunt & Hawk Senior Copywriter, Pete Burchell, delivers his tips for being a better working dad.
I love being a dad. Well, most of the time.
I also love being a copywriter. Again, most of the time!
During the period that I’ve combined work and parenting, I’ve learned something that most dads and mums can relate to – it can be a proper juggle.
On a good day, you’re nailing both. On a bad day, you’re failing at both.
But with experience, I’ve lessened the bad days and found a better balance.
How? Well, here are some of my tips for being a better working dad.
1. Find an Employer That’s Genuinely Flexible
Most businesses that can function with a remote component have implemented a hybrid work model for their employees, particularly post the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexible working is hardly groundbreaking nowadays.
But from what I’ve heard rather than experienced (fortunately), it’s not always a given that an employer will offer genuine flexibility and understanding for the parents among its workforce.
I’m fortunate that at Hunt & Hawk, there is tangible support and understanding for my other life as a dad – even beyond when my kids ‘selfishly’ fall ill on a work day.
For one, I have been able to tweak my working hours to ensure I can do some of the kids’ school and childcare drop-offs and pick-ups, be present at meal times, and so on.
As long as the work gets done, the bosses are ok with it.
Additionally, as coach of my seven-year-old son’s football team, I have been able to WFH on a designated office day to attend weekly practice – or ‘glorified babysitting’ as I’ve found the sessions to be!
There are no guarantees that your employer will be flexible, but I’ve certainly learned that if you don’t at least ask the question, you won’t know.
2. Don’t Take the ‘Wee-Wees’
Flexible working goes both ways, though.
I’m not one to advocate taking the wee-wees (G-rated term) just because I’m a dad.
There are instances when you have to show greater agility to juggle work and parenting.
‘Dadism’ shouldn’t be treated as a green light to work when and wherever you feel like it.
Equally, I try to be conscious of the fact that just because I’m a dad, it doesn’t mean that my non-parent colleagues aren’t entitled to flexibility within their working lives – or that things that crop up in their lives are as important to them as my children are to me.
3. Embrace the Chance to Not Be a Dad
Occasionally, a few of us at work will go out on Fridays for lunch, and possibly a cheeky beer.
I love these times, because it’s an excellent opportunity to switch off from both parental and work responsibilities.
We tend to not talk shop, at least most of the time. And as the only dad in the office, I try to extend this non-work chat to not yarning about my kids. I don’t always succeed at either.
But this is a great way to take some time out, bond with workmates, and discuss more important things like beer and sport.
It also makes me feel better about missing a lot of the after-work social events that I find myself skipping due to parenting commitments.
4. Create the Line Between the Workday and Witching Hour
I’ve had roles that are 100% remote, including several long, long stints at home during those dreaded COVID-19 lockdowns when I was living in Melbourne.
In the initial stages, I found it a real struggle to go from stressful work day straight into witching hour.
I discovered the benefit of a short walk to debrief and destress on those WFH days – or even 10 minutes to zone out with a podcast or music – had a telling impact. It still does.
5. Don’t Talk to Non-Parents About Sleep
Of all the tips for being a better working dad, this is the most important.
You must try your absolute hardest to avoid engaging with non-parents about the subject of sleep.
This is even more critical first thing on a workday, particularly if you’ve been woken up multiple times during the night by your children.
Yes, non-parents can have a bad night’s sleep – or ‘bad night’s sleep’. And for full disclosure, my kids often don’t contribute to my lack of shuteye anyway.
Even still, to hear a non-parent talk about how they’ve been up since 6am or how they’re just going to plonk themselves on the couch when they get home because they slept badly during the night invokes a sensation likened to fingers running down a chalkboard.
Don’t walk into the trap of broaching this subject, dads or mums. You’ll regret it.
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As part of the content team at Hunt & Hawk, I love crafting words for our clients that have real impact.
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