WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A DAD
Here at notonthehighstreet.com, we’re shining a light on the cause of modern dads. Often overlooked for the role they play in the family dynamic and assumed to ‘have it all’, we’re exploring what it really means to be a dad today.
We asked our Director of Marketing, Ben Carter, to talk to us about his work life balance and how he’s trying to get it right.
Firstly let me state the obvious, being a Dad is not easy. However the emotions, the highs (and the lows) and the delight that having kids gives you, more than makes up for the practical and psychological difficulties that parents have to endure.
For dads in today’s society, there’s an increasing feeling that we’re just not getting it right. On the one hand we feel compelled to work long hours in stressful jobs to ensure we can deliver on our responsibilities, whilst on the other hand (and unlike previous generations) we are expected to have a much more hands on role in childcare – and rightly so! Fathers that have chosen to be stay-at-home dads tell you of a totally different set of pressures ranging from being alienated by their mates, to feelings of not actually achieving anything. Throw in situations where both parents work full time and then you’re struggling with a separate set of dilemmas and childcare issues.
I work full time in my role at notonthehighstreet.com and have a few other outside interests, whilst my wife Imogen works part time for a charity (whilst also conjuring up new business ideas) and full time looking after the kids (Louis, four about to be five, and Maisie, three going on 13 with an insatiable appetite for shopping). I have by far the easiest part of that deal and I am often reminded of this when I opt to work from home for a day or have to cover Imogen on the school run(s).
I try to leave work at around six at least three times a week so that I can see the kids and help get them through the witching hour. This isn’t always easy as when it comes to story time they’d much rather my wife read to them – she does this most evenings and they like routine. Weekends are obviously family time, but again this is complicated by ballet, football and me heading off to see Southampton matches two Saturdays out of four (during the season), not to mention ferrying them to numerous children’s parties. We make it work because this is the life we’ve chosen to live, but it’s far from easy.
I do sometimes yearn back to when I was a freelance marketing consultant because of the flexibility and freedom it afforded me, but with a young family to support, the time isn’t right to return to it. I’m also increasingly aware that the old saying of ‘you never get these years back’ is very true, and I’m mindful that whilst I’m very ambitious in my career, when I’m with the kids I need to park thinking about work and focus on ‘Daddy-time’ with them.
There are more and more options to become increasingly flexible in our lives and how we work – we’re living in a nation of entrepreneurs and it has never been easier to start up on your own, evidenced by the rapid growth of notonthehighstreet.com as a shop window for Britain’s best creative small businesses. Of course for all the flexibility and opportunity this brings, there are risks, but in our quest to make sure our kids have the best upbringing possible, these risks are sometimes worth taking. Having kids and looking after them is far from a one size fits all solution – it’s about what works for individual families and it’s about being adaptable.
It’s no longer about dads being forced to do one thing and mums the other.
Join our Dadpreneur Movement
Are you a dad? Have you got your own business? Then you could be just what we’re looking for. We’re opening our (virtual) doors to the new wave of creative, inspiring dadpreneurs out there. Whether you’re a designer-maker, curator, ‘imagine if’ thinker or ‘why not?’ risk-taker – you could be the next big seller on our site. Apply today.