Working dads and lockdown: Dan Reed

Dan Reed is a social media star under the Career Dad banner. He shares his experience of lockdown and his thoughts on how the pandemic might change things for working dads in the future.

Street sign that has the word lockdown on it

 

Dan Reed is known to many across social media as Career Dad. He has two young children, a successful podcast and loads of followers on Instagram. 

During lockdown he shared his experience on Instagram every day in a series of ‘Lockdown Lowdown’ videos. They showed him juggling work, fatherhood and perfecting his coffee making skills.

He shares his thoughts on lockdown and its lessons for working dads.

Dan Reed Career Dad

Allow me to set the scene. It’s the start of March, and I’m swanning around London. There’s been some noise for a couple of weeks about this nasty virus in Wuhan, and some people in Europe are starting to get a little fearful. Personally, I don’t think we need to worry.

I remember meeting workingdads.co.uk editor James Millar for a coffee in Canary Wharf to talk all things dad and work. ‘Are we still shaking hands?’, James asked, as he clasped my extended hand. Of course we are. Why wouldn’t we be?

Two weeks later and my life was at the beginning of a change that I couldn’t have foreseen. You know the story; heck, you’re living it right now.

Family win

And now we’re here. I’ve been working from home for the past five months. Wow… I’ve never thought about that before. Lockdown has had some real highs, and some terrible lows. On the highs: I’ve spent so much time with my daughter, who’s just turned one. She’s spent nearly half of her life in Lockdown. The bond we have is amazing. She accepts me so readily in comparison to my son when he was her age. I mean, I can settle her to sleep! That’s a real win for our family.

Another win is our finances. I’ve been fortunate enough to keep my salary, and have cut back on spend. No commute. No daily coffee or lunches. I reckon I’m saving £10 a day on food and drinks during the week. And at the weekend, as a family we’d eat lunch at Costa or Subway: £20 a time. Then there’s the takeaways! I’ve had two in the last five months. Pre-lockdown it was one-to-two a week! Oh, and I sold my car. Another huge expense gone.

Failing

It’s not all been sunshine and roses, though. At the start of lockdown work was nuts. Like 12-hour days for 10 days in a row nuts. I felt like I was failing my family because I wasn’t spending any time with them… made harder by us all being in the same house.

As the work got easier, I also realised I’d set myself up for a failure. Pre-lockdown I worked from home one day a week. Surely this was the same thing, just every day. Clearly it wasn’t. I think I found that transition harder because I thought I knew what I was dealing with.

Every struggle I’ve had throughout lockdown I’ve dealt with. Apart from one: downtime. I find it incredibly difficult going from ‘dad mode’ to ‘work mode’ with no divide between the two.

People have said, ‘Why not go for a walk before work?’, or ‘Have you tried meditating?’, or, ‘You just need to prioritise the time.’. Ok.

Have they tried having a five-year-old and a one-year-old? My wife has the kids all day as she’s on maternity leave, so I want to give her as much of a break as possible. That means I have them from when they wake up (about 6.30am) until usually 8.45am. I then shower, eat, make a coffee and start work. That’s my downtime. I’d go as far to say I miss the commute. No-one bothered me for two hours on the way to and from work. I know that’s not a common perspective, but it’s mine. And it’s valid.

Positives

Anyone who knows me, though, will know I like to focus on the positives. What can we learn from all this? And how are we able to take those learnings and positivity, and shape it into whatever the future looks like?

For me, it’s about choice and balance. I will never work five days in the office again. Period. I’ll probably only work a couple of days in the office. But that will be my choice. Choice is what we need to have, and employers need to understand that choice is different to everyone.

If businesses get that right, they will flourish. They’ll attract great talent, and retain their best employees. So let’s not have blanket rulings for all. Let’s create choice, and empower employees to make the choice that works for them. Because if it works for them, it will work for the business.





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