My kids’ last day of camp was August 11, and the first day all three of them were in school was September 6. For those counting, that’s two days shy of 4 weeks of unstructured time without camp, school, or childcare.
Let me paint the picture. First week was Dad Camp – day trips where I took our girls to see friends and family, to do fun things, while my wife worked. Second there was a week at the beach, all five of us. Third there was the week of doctors’ appointments and school-supply buying, where my wife and I tag-teamed. The last days were the typical post-Labor Day feelings of “where did summer go” and “we’re nearly to school!”
Each week was fun, but I could only work in the early mornings, moments in the evening and after everyone was asleep – if I wasn’t asleep too.
It’s been a week since we got into our school year routine. Here are 3 ½ things I learned as a Lead Dad who works full time from a time that was fun but couldn’t have been any busier for my wife.
- Lead Dads and Working Moms can be great parents and great workers, but we can’t be effective at both without caregiving support – like school or camp or childcare. (Let’s note that we’re pretty fortunate to have sent our children to 7 weeks of day camp, which is really expensive.)
- Head-down work can have unintended consequences. When I was writing a weekly column, I could write some in advance to take time off. The task was finite. Building a media company, community platform and workplace advocate for families to fulfill their full potential, like we’re doing at The Company of Dads, is infinite.
Where did I screw up? In my head-down, work-when-I-can mode, I set our monthly Lead Dad meetup for last Thursday. Turns out that was the opening game for the National Football League (NFL) – as in the game featuring the reigning Super Bowl champions that the NFL had been advertising nonstop for months. Fumble!
- Take comfort in not being a hypocrite. By the end of the month, my list of things I owed people was causing me immense stress. I’m a zero-inbox guy, and my unanswered emails kept piling up. I consolidated some into a to-do list, but that was a thumb in the dam. I still haven’t gone through everything. And now I’m worried that some of the people I responded to later that I normally would haven’t emailed back because of my slow follow-up. (I’m hoping they just took some time off too!) But you can’t start something called The Company of Dads and abandon your wife and kids while you build a company to, er, support working moms and be the go-to parent.
- Be better at being transparent. I should have written one of those pithy out-of-office emails that told people what I was doing and why I was less available. But I was too busy in the lead-up to the month where I’d be ping-ponging constantly. I’ll put it on the to-do list for next year – right after I clear out my inbox!