Last month, we launched the first post in a three-part series about embracing change as a working parent:
“We want team members of all ages who are in different life stages to know that they have equal opportunities to excel in their role, regardless of their commitments outside of the office. For us, this means building a culture that understands and respects the time they may need to spend with their families. We wanted to spend some time to reflect on real working parents in our own team and share some of their experiences.”
Next up, we’re excited to introduce Steve Tannock, Manager, Architecture (Platform Technology Team), sharing his experience as a working dad.
Steve Tannock, Manager, Architecture (Platform Technology Team), father of 2
I’ve been a working dad for a while now - my boys are now 14 & 8, both of whom have full, active lives that keep me running from one end of the city to the other at all hours. Nothing like starting your day at a hockey rink at 6am, working all day and ending it at a pool at 10pm to ensure you get really good at timeboxing your life. There’s a lot of juggling, negotiation and just plain winging it involved, but it is so amazing to watch them grow!
Here are some things I keep returning to think about:
1. Be intentional
As a dad, it’s really easy to fall into traditional parenting gender roles. Virtually no one will think any less of you if you do! Indeed, you’ll encounter many who will question you if you don’t. Push back, gently, on these assumptions. When the school keeps calling your wife first when something happens, but you want them to call you, tell them. Then tell them again. And repeat that each school year. For each kid.
2. Find the right support
We were the first in our circle of friends to have kids, as our families are not local. I found it helpful to find other dads who I could laugh and cry and talk about parenting and what it means to parent. It's great to know that there are more and more communities for dads popping up and a lot more resources available for any parent who wants to be involved. Find people who want to parent like you do, and help each other.
3. Confront biases
Dads get praised for doing the same things mums get grief for. It’s not an even playing field (at least, it wasn’t 8 to 14 years ago). I’d receive a lot of praise for going to the park alone with my kids - the park! Or bottle-feeding in public. In this sense, I remember to give my wife the recognition and space she needs to feel appreciated.
4. Deal with guilt
Mums that I’ve talked to speak a lot about the guilt of going back to work. I experience a bit of the opposite - guilt about taking time off from work because so few of my male role models or peers were doing it. You need to be at peace with your decisions about this, but recognize that not everyone will understand your decision.
5. Be visible
As taking paternity leave becomes more mainstream in workplaces, it is important to be an ally and be visible in your own actions. Talk to your colleagues about why you're doing it and parenting equity: leaving to handle doctor appointments, making lunches, reading before bedtime or even part-time work.
I leave early every Wednesday to do kid activities. Being involved in their lives makes my life better and the time you take is absolutely worth it - and ongoing. My kids know that I’m around and available to them. And I know my teammates at work have my back when I do this, and they know I’ll have theirs when it is their turn.