FATHERS. STAY: small changes, big benefits

Only read this if you are a Dad working long hours

“A new normal for working parents is definitely on the horizon,” The Sunday Times Magazine, 27 May 2017 (profile of Mark McCartney’s new approach to coaching leaders with under-11-year olds)

When Lorraine Candy at the Sunday Times interviewed me recently she said: “Do we just fall into a ‘rut’ when we are working parents?”

Accepting we are in a rut is difficult.  Secretly you know that all those back-to-back meetings keep you busy but unproductive.  But you are probably too exhausted to do something about it.

Many of the Dad’s I’ve coached have managed to perform at work and contribute to their under-11-years old life by making small, practical changes, weekly.  They seem inconsequential, but add up.  For example, eating together a set number of times a week with no digital distraction.  Or committing to a weekly activity that both they and their children enjoy.

These simple commitments can make a big difference:

–       Becomes a precious weekly commitment not to be broken

–       Provides a stimulus to cut out more wasteful busyness e.g. meetings

–       Emphasises the quality rather than the quantity of time

–       Encourages other parents to introduce similar changes

–       Reduces feelings of guilt

Here are some simple steps to think about:

–       Cut out one hour of meeting time next week and use this extra time to arrange the activity you would like to do with your under-11-year-old

–       Ask other trusted colleagues in leadership positions or those in your network how they do it (or don’t!).  Industries and professions have different ‘norms’

–       Create a simple visual image of you and your 11-year-old partaking in the activity and use this when you are faced with a decision at work – shall I say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to this pointless two hour update meeting which could easily be finished in 30 minutes, freeing up 90 minutes for me to focus on my priorities

Finally, think about what you would like your under-11-year old to write in next year’s Father’s Day card …that will help to get you out of the ‘wasteful busyness’ rut.