This is what a Care Shift looks like.
Yesterday my teenage daughter asked me if I’d play tennis with her.
I’m not good at tennis and don’t really like it.
My day was packed, with essential calls and work that I’ve been putting off.
It was hot.
“Of course,” I said. “Let me try to reorganize things and find a court.”
Two essential calls and an in-person meeting had to stay on the calendar. They’d taken a long time to set up and all were key to continuing to build The Company of Dads.
I moved that in-person meeting to the café at the tennis court. The meeting that was going to be before it became a Zoom.
I drew an inside straight when I moved my PT appointment to 8:30am. That still allowed me to drop my teenager off at her camp job at 7:30am and get back to handle breakfast for the two who would take the bus to another camp. (It’s really just about the sunscreen!)
My daughter and I were set to play from 2:30 to 3:30 and I could get home for a 4pm call.
What had to give? I had some time blocked out for myself at 9am so that went first. And last night, I stayed up way too late getting things done that I would have done this morning.
I was tired in my meeting before tennis with my daughter but once we started hitting the ball I was laughing and so happy.
How often could I do an unplanned Care Shift – which we define as a full workday broken up into blocks that may start early and end late but allow for a productive mix of work and caregiving?
I got lucky. I’m not sure how possible the spontaneous Care Shift is – but a planned one always works out great. I had also told my daughter up front that I wanted to do this and if I could do it I would. She understood.
What could have stymied me? Here are the top five:
1) Tennis courts free only at 10 or 12 when I had unmovable calls.
2) The in-person meeting not willing to shift locations.
3) If the PT couldn’t move to an earlier time, that would have made for painful drive tomorrow but not the end of the world.
4) My unwillingness to trade me time for time with my daughter.
5) Biggest one: Me not trying. I may be my own boss, but I have obligations to the people working to build The Company of Dads, to my family and to the community I’m bringing together. Yet I have to live the change I’m preaching.
A decade ago, when I was still a columnist at The New York Times, I interviewed Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. I remember how he downplayed the billions he made and said something like, I just didn’t have a day off or a vacation for three years. He was young then and, if I remember correctly, didn’t have any family commitments.
That’s the hero story of the entrepreneur. But it’s not a healthy version of what most of us need to do to live productively. We all need a Care Shift
(Photo not from today to protect teenager privacy!)