James Patts

Career stability is something we all want. It allows us to make decisions when we know we have a steady paycheck. But it doesn’t always work out as we’d like: layoffs happen and they force us to rethink plans and assumptions.

James Patts, our Lead Dad of the Week, worked in video production since college, first for sports network NESN and then for the WWE. Then, after 20 years, the wrestling juggernaut laid him off last summer. He’s chosen to see the bright side for him as a father.

“There’s more freedom and less stress,” he said. “You control your own schedule. You’re there more often. It’s the simple things.”

For James, that means driving his kids, age 11 and 8, to school or getting them off the bus. When he was commuting from his home in Redding, Conn, to WWE headquarters in Stamford, that wasn’t possible: he had a good two hours each day sitting in traffic.

“It’s really just that 5 minutes you have with them to talk,” he said. “You’re not a stranger in the house.”

He’s set up shop doing freelance video production under Morning Run Media – named after early morning runs that have been a staple for 30 years. He’s finding good work doing video storytelling.

He’s also been able to relieve his wife of some of the household work. She works remotely for Thompson Reuters.

It’s not all been great. He loved his job. “I miss working at the WWE a lot,” he said. “But I can control my schedule now. I think my kids appreciate it and it’s allowed my wife to take a little bit of a back seat.”

One tip he has for freelancing fathers: Don’t live in a silo; make time to get out. “You find a lot of people are in the same situation,” he said. “It’s good to make sure you get some mental release to talk it out. Not a therapy session as much as an in-person conversation. Don’t take it all on yourself.”

Wise words, James. Welcome to The Company of Dads.