Dadpreneurs – Balancing Business and Family Life

As a Dadpreneur, there’s no such thing as work-life balance, there’s just balance. I love what I do, but I also love my family and being equally committed to both isn’t easy to accomplish. It’s a constant battle to stay on top of both, particularly at the weekends when you have client work to do, but also realise that it’s the only time that you get to properly hang out with the kids.

That’s my choice of course and I could quite easily take a 9-5 job and have the weekends to myself like other Dads, but that would make me unhappy and no family wants a Grumpy Daddy.

When I decided to work for myself, my wife (who works full-time as well) and I decided that we would explain it to the kids. Despite them being 8 and 6 we felt that it was important that they understood what my being self-employed would mean and how it would impact their lives. Of course, there were positives and negatives. The negatives meant that I wouldn’t be able to go on all of the day trips at the weekend, whilst the positives meant that because I had more flexibility I’d be able to do more school drops off and even some pick-ups. The kids were great about it, but didn’t quite understand why I wasn’t going to the same place every day like other Dads!

12 months on and we have an established routine which works for everyone:

1 – Breakfast and Bedtime

I get up at 5:30 am in order to do an hours’ work, half an hours’ yoga before getting ready and spending breakfast with the family. I ask them about the day ahead and listen to them practice their musical instruments. When I come in at night – following a day of delivery or meetings – we have dinner together and I put them both to bed. I ask them about their days and read my daughter a story. My son likes to talk at me usually about Minecraft or Lego Dimensions (a new infatuation), but it’s great to listen. Then it’s back to work.

2 – Adults Night

Either Friday night or Saturday is a designated ‘Adults Night’ for my wife and I. During the week we’re a bit like ships passing in the night, however we work hard together on meals, lunches (my wife’s area of expertise) as well as making sure that school forms are signed, after school and weekend activities are planned in, bikes and other equipment fixed and grandparents (in England) are spoken to! Of course, we spend more time together than just one of those nights, but on at least one of them we watch a movie, head into the city to watch a band or have dinner out.

3 – Constant Communication

I never stop talking to the kids about where I’m working or the things that I’m doing so that they build an appreciation of why I do what I do. I never take for granted their love and understanding, so I want to ensure that they grow up knowing how much I enjoy doing what I do and why it’s important that I do it. I’m lucky that I get to travel and meet new people, but that’s not good for the family, so even when I’m away they’re my first priority, letting them know I’ve arrived and using video calls to stay in touch. There’s also a 3-days away = presents rule, which makes them look forward to my return!

4 – Passing on what I know

I specialise in leadership and culture development within project management, so I like to pass on some of the things that I do to my children. Actually, that sounds horribly boring and slightly self-indulgent, but it’s not meant that way. I want to ensure that my kids grow up to be the best little people that they can be, have lots of fun and get to achieve that which they set out to do and if being a Dadpreneur I can pass a bit of what I do onto them, then everyone benefits.

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Colin Ellis has his own project management practice specialising in leadership and culture. He is a highly sought-after speaker and trainer and is currently writing his first book. You can find out more about Colin on his website, by following him on Twitter or by connecting with him on LinkedIn.