If you’re on my calendar, you can be certain that we’re going to talk then. My kids are older so unless they’re really sick, they’re at school or at home, resting to get better. Everything else in the schedules I manage around, which is Lead Dad 101.
But last week, my town tweeted up with a Taylor Swift sighting – she was eating lunch on our main street!!! – and my older daughters flipped me from work mode to father mode in the school car line.
“Dad, please, please, please take us to Elm,” my oldest one pleaded. “Taylor Swift is eating lunch there with Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. We need to go now. Please, please, please!”
This was not as implausible as it sounds. Lively and Reynolds live one town over, and they were friends with Swift. Celebrity sightings are not uncommon in our town outside of New York City. (A highlight of my wife’s first pregnancy was Harry Connick Jr opening a door for her!)
What stood out that day was the sense that this was a make-or-break teen moment, that the only acceptable answer was, “Yes, let’s go.”
So we did – with her middle sister and a friend in tow.
What we saw when we got to the restaurant was a teenage scrum, with hundreds of girls crowded in front of the restaurant, iPhones at the ready.
I was going to be late for my 4:30 call and that would push back my 5:15 call and then mess up dinner.
But we were there. And Taylor Swift might be inside that restaurant. And if they could see the most popular musician in the world, what kind of Lead Dad would I be to not show some flexibility?
How I moved my meetings might offer tips to other working parents who work from home on occasion when life intervenes.
-> Be honest. I didn’t concoct a far-fetched story. I said, “My daughters heard that Taylor Swift is having lunch in town and I’m standing with them outside of the restaurant.”
The response was, “Taylor Swift is in your town??? You have to go!”
Being honest is key no matter what. Don’t make up a B.S. excuse to move a meeting when something crops up with your family. Own it and name it. You wouldn’t lie if a big client call pushed a meeting later.
-> Be in the moment. You shifted the meeting. Get back into the moment and enjoy it with your children. If you don’t then you’ve upended your day for no gain.
-> Be okay working later. There’s a tradeoff with work-life integration. You might need to work more that night or other nights. We call these Care Shifts – where employers and employees agree around core hours knowing employees will get work done at other times.
-> Be open. Not everyone can shift meetings around to be with their kids. If you can do it, let others in your organization know you did it so they can do the same – and not worry about repercussions for being a parent. Be a model.
As for Taylor, we never saw her, but my girls keep talking about being there.