Matt Thomas

Matt Thomas, a repeat Lead Dad of the Week, has no regrets in his decision to leave management consulting to focus more on his family and embrace the ups and downs of fatherhood.

When we last spoke, Matt was settling into a sabbatical in Philadelphia that allowed him to be a Lead Dad to his daughter and gave his wife the freedom to focus on the start-up where she was working.

When we reconnected, I asked: How’s it gone? Pretty well, it seems, after some predictable hiccups that others can learn from.

The big question for any man stepping into this role is: Who am I? Caregiving still occurs largely in maternal zones, like the playground, the Girl Scout meetings, the PTA – and fathers are assessed differently. “When you’re meeting new people, the first question you get is, what do you do? It took me a while to get over it and say, I’m a Dad.”

Then there’s our need for connection. Matt said keeping in touch with friends comes naturally to him, but he has to remind himself to be proactive. “I’m happier and more switched on when I’m doing a couple of lunches a week with people I respect,” he said.

The structure comes in many forms, like training for a marathon or running the Girls Scout cookie sale like the McKinsey consultant he once was. (“We had a very structured cookie program,” he laughed.)

“Getting involved in neighborhood things has allowed me to have an impact and be part of a community,” he said. “When I was working all the time and I defaulted to letting someone else do those things, I missed that. I just floated pass. That was a big one.”

“I thought by taking a sabbatical that stress would just disappear,” he said. “It doesn’t. Instead of getting stressed about getting your budget approved, now you’re stressed about something that is pretty minor. Like the tomato plants – I’m stressed about the tomato plants. Does it matter? No. If we kill the tomatoes we’ll go to the store and buy the tomatoes like we did last year.”

Welcome back, Matt, to The Company of Dads and thanks for sharing your insight!