Working dads and lockdown: Han-Son Lee

The founder of DaddiLife reckons lockdown was an opportunity to consider both how we work and how we parent


Han-Son Lee is the founder of the DaddiLife website a parenting website covering a range of areas for modern day dads; from modern lifestyle and things to do, through to product reviews and research on what life is really like for fathers.

If there’s one word we’ve probably all become rather desensitised to over the last few months it’s ‘unprecedented.’ Our experiences of things we took for granted previously – shopping, being together etc – has been unprecedented for sure. And by and large we have rallied around that new set of rules as well as we could have.

But what I think has been truly unprecedented has been the reflection and change this period of Covid-19 has enabled on us; at an individual level, with our families, and of course at work.

This piece is a chance for me to reflect on the things that have been truly unprecedented for me, which I hope helps provoke further discussion for you about what you’ve changed, and what reflection may yet be ahead.

Things I took for granted

There’s a famous parenting cliché that kids see everything we do and take it all in. For me this has gone beyond cliché over this pandemic. And it has been a real moment of reflection for me.

My five-year-old son and I often play Lego together. Specifically we make little superhero characters for each other that we want to represent the other person that day. During lockdown he gave me a Lego of a wolfman at his desk, (with wolfman’s obligatory coffee and hotdog!)

When I asked him about it he said it was me – because all he saw was me working.

I have to admit that hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought I had been doing the homeschooling ok (relatively), spending good quality time with him, eating together, chatting etc. But in his eyes I’d gone from superhero to bad guy constantly working at his desk.

At first I tried to shake it off as one of those things and ‘I’d just spend more time with him tomorrow.’ But I realised that he was actually right. That tomorrow never came, and even in those moments where it was meant to be about him, I’d always have work on my mind – something that needed a fast response; an email to a colleague or client, a presentation, a stand up, a meeting, a phone call that couldn’t be put off, etc etc

Things I’ve found myself doing a lot more/less

Making a commitment. For the last couple of months and counting I’ve done something about the wolfman episode. I’ve booked in actual time for us, so when he’s with me we can actually do schooling together, properly; actually do quality Lego play time, properly; actually have dinner together, properly. It’ll typically look like a 30 minute or sometimes an hour slot throughout the day, sometimes multiple slots, and I’ve been catching up with stuff later on where possible.

Being present in play. Aside from Lego, I’ve found myself playing with a lot more toys! My son is particularly into his Beyblade toys too at the moment and I’ve found myself becoming somewhat addicted to the little spinners too!

The wolfman episode was an important trigger here, as it made me reflect on  what true quality time with my son really is. At times I’ve been guilty of thinking that quality time is about being there for him, but one thing I’ve noticed is the difference between being physically there and really being present.

Ask yourself – how often are you in the moment with your child(ren), rather than just going through the motions?

Things I’m going to change

Working flexibly has always been a big thing for me, but lockdown has taken it from one extreme to another.

I’ve always been a collaborative type, and find that the best work is done with that in mind. And as much as I thought working remotely would aid the collaboration, in truth there have been times where working in a physical space of one for work has made things harder. A solution and a way forward has always been found, but as the months of lockdown have worn on I’ve realised how much I miss a mix of both – digital and physical collaboration.

Finding ways to collaborate both physically and digitally will be key moving forwards, And as we slowly come back to office spaces (that’s still a big if) I do wonder how that will start to affect the way we think about teams and success moving forwards.

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