Why becoming a dad completely changed my outlook on work

Why becoming a dad completely changed my outlook on work

When Thomas Paige became a father, his attitude to life changed in a heartbeat. Here’s what happened next

By Thomas Paige

In that exact moment, I don’t think I could have been any happier.

Standing in my kitchen, looking out across the sun-drenched garden, with this incredible new life cradled in my arms. Playing quietly in the background was The Rolling Stones’ classic “Wild Horses”: the perfect soundtrack to a couple of minutes that I’ll never forget.

    I found myself floating above all the normal work-related niggles and stresses.  

I’d recently returned home from the hospital, having just become a dad for the first time – and all of my priorities had changed in an instant.

Changing perspectives

Becoming a parent completely refocused my mind on what was important. It put every aspect of my life into perspective – perhaps none more so than my attitude to work.

As I neared the end of my paternity leave, my mind naturally began to return to work-related matters. I couldn’t help but contemplate how different my working days would be now that so much had changed. I began to grow increasingly uneasy at the thought of going back.

But to my surprise, I actually returned to work with a feeling of renewed strength.

Why becoming a dad completely changed my outlook on workNot in a way that you might expect. It wasn’t a sense of added motivation or inspiration, afforded to me by my new infant.

Instead, it was something very different. It was a feeling of loftiness. I found myself floating above all the normal work-related niggles and stresses. Those dreaded meetings, which would previously have made me run for cover, no longer bothered me. I was able confidently to negotiate them, and maybe even enjoy them (a little).

And all because I knew that no matter what happened in that room, or at any time during the working day, I still got to go home and see my little baby.

Put simply, nothing compared to the new love of my life.

The measure of success

For a time I struggled to get anywhere near the levels of motivation that I had always enjoyed in my working life. Normal service did gradually resume, but there was one change to my mindset that stuck: the way I viewed and measured “success”.

Prior to becoming a father, success to me had always meant career progression and a generous salary. But the only measure of success for me now was the amount of quality time I spent with my family: a feeling that’s stayed with me ever since.

I’m clearly not alone in this respect, with 63pc of new dads requesting a change in their working patterns as they seek a better work-life balance.

    ...the only measure of success for me now was the amount of quality time I spent with my family...  

Three tips to achieving work-life balance as a busy dad

So as I sit here feeling more “successful” than ever, I want to share a few simple steps that may help you overcome the inevitable conflict between work and being a family man.

1. Define your ideal work-life balance

Work-life balance means many things to many people, so start by defining what it means to you. What does your ideal work-life balance look like? What steps will you take to get there?

Start with your end goal and work backwards. But don’t expect quick wins: it can take years (four in my case) to reach a position where your working life helps to accommodate the demands and desires of your family.

2. Seek the flexibility you need (or want)

Flexible working comes in many different guises. Each offers a slightly different approach to improving your work-life balance.

Working fathers are often reluctant to broach the idea of flexible working with their employers. With 2 in 5 dads having flexible working requests turned down, it’s easy to see why.

But remember, flexible working provides many benefits to your employer. So before submitting a request, do your research and come up with a proposal that benefits all parties. That’ll make it harder for them to refuse.

3. Broaden your horizons

If there is genuinely very little likelihood of your employer supporting your request for flexible working, perhaps it’s time to consider a change in direction. That could mean a different job, a switch in career or even becoming your own boss.

Either way, give yourself time to get used to parenthood. Establish a clear idea of the work-life balance needed to accommodate your new way of life. Then go for it.

If you’re anything like me, you won’t regret making the change for an instant.

© 2020 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Published: 14 February 2020

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: How to succeed as a working mum

You may also enjoy: How to find your passion

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