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Guillaume Thevenot packed in commuting to Barcelona to set up his own company designed to help other families find a break that lets them reconnect
When working dad Guillaume Thevenot took the plunge and went self employed he wanted to be more present for his kids, by helping other parents get away!
After a career in the travel industry Guillaume grew frustrated that he couldn’t find family friendly holidays easily.
So Guillaume launched babybreaks.com. It’s a platform where parents can quickly search by destination to find the best family-friendly accommodation, restaurants and activities. Everything is geared towards entertaining young children and helping stressed parents.
He explains, “I had the initial idea 10 years ago when my son was born. There was nothing very helpful for families of young kids. In that 10 years I still don’t see any websites tapping into the family market, so I did it!”
At the time he was commuting to Barcelona working for a travel firm with an office there. The family relied on a nanny to help with the childcare for their two children. Now Guillaume is on hand.
“I wanted to be more present,” he says. “And I’m pleased that for the first time my kids can actually see what I’m doing. I used to go out to work but they didn’t know what that meant.”
Combining family with running a business is not straightforward. Boundaries are necessary. Guillaume gets up and gets to work early in the morning. Then the school run kicks in. When he collects his children and they get home he goes back to work from 4pm-6pm. But since work largely involves sitting at a laptop he can still be available to help with homework or break up a squabble. Then he can give them his full attention for the period that includes dinner and bed time, before tying up any loose work ends right at the end of the day.
“In the eyes of my 10-year-old I’ve become a different father,” adds Guillaume. “But there are positives and negatives. As well as being able to help with homework I’m also the one who is on hand to take the tough decisions and dish out discipline!”
Guillaume’s French. He moved to London in 2000 when his wife found a job there. And they ended up staying.
His last job was for a French travel firm. He reckons they are more enlightened about work life balance issues than British businesses. “If you have a kid, you don’t get the big eyes from your co-workers when you leave at 5pm. There’s much more flexibility and understanding.”
For many working dads holidays are the time to reconnect with their family. Which is why it’s important to find the right one.
January is the month when many people are looking into booking their summer break. Travel companies often focus their marketing efforts on this date in particular, dubbed Blue Monday by the PR industry because it’s the date when the days are dark and post Christmas bank balances are most stretched.
“Family holidays are important,” says Guillaume.
Of course family friendly means different things to different people. But most parents know the frustration of trying to put together a break that works for the whole family. That might mean appropriate attractions, places to eat where the waiters won’t scowl at every dropped pea, or hotels with family rooms.
Guillaume has his own personal definition. “It’s good to discover new places, but you all have to feel safe. And if you see the kids having a good time and throw in a bit of culture and entertainment that’s ideal.”
He likes to mix up his own breaks. He followed an all inclusive holiday in Sardinia two years ago with a road trip round Scotland last year. “If I had to compare the two, I’d say I liked Scotland better!”
His tips for other families are Sicily for a full on summer holiday or Lisbon if you’re adopting the recent trend towards multiple shorter breaks through the year.
Adds Guillaume, “Lisbon is the sort of city you can wander round without any pressure. Relieving the pressure is key to a good holiday.”