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Sid Madge’s organisation Meee aims to engender creativity and leadership among young people, business leaders and parents. He shared his experience of lockdown as a working dad and the positives for fathers going forward
Sid Madge is a brand analyst, father of three and founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise). His organisation draws on thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives.
He’s also author of a series of ‘Meee in a Minute’ books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.
He shared his experience of lockdown, what he learned and what positives and lessons working dads can take forward.
Covid has been challenging for everyone.
As human beings we are all subject to expectation and social conditioning and I was curious to notice how that was playing out for me as a working man. In the absence of a great deal of the normal hustle and bustle of work life I have recognised just how much I defined who I am, and my status in the world, by the work I do. My value was in the work arena. It was where I could demonstrate my intellect and ideas and where I would be rewarded for my contribution.
At least that’s what I believed pre-Covid. Mid-Covid I’m no longer so sure.
The world has been turned upside down and it’s given us all time to reflect on what’s truly important. So, if I’m not my work what or who am I? As a human being? A partner? A friend, brother, son? And perhaps most importantly of all, as a Dad?
What Covid has forced me to do is reflect on all the relationships I have and have had. It’s made me see which relationships are truly important to me. When it comes to these important relationships it’s not the gifts or holidays or grand gestures, it’s the tiny little moments where I show up – changing a nappy, putting a plaster on a grazed knee, a hug, not rushing my children to get ready. It’s the extra fun moments at bath time; making stuff funny instead of rushing to get nowhere.
It’s not the ‘big stuff’ that’s important. It’s all those micro and tiny moments that add up and create the love, trust, belonging and true connection that make me truly human.
In my focus on work, the programmes we could and do produce, the people we could help ‘out there’ I missed a lot of those tiny moments where I could help and support the people ‘in here’. I was always looking forward to the next meeting, the next quarter, the next client, the next event, the next book, or the next workshop and I would bring those concerns and thoughts home whether I wanted to or not. As a result, I missed so many of those tiny moments.
I was so focused on the process of work, getting out there and telling the world about Meee with all the amazing things that the Meee in a Minute Programme does. I wanted to share the incredible and extraordinary people that have gone through the programmes and how little moments have changed their lives. Yet I was not appreciating those little moments myself. During Covid I came home from work to find a solicitor’s letter saying I had two months to move out of the family home. My relationship of six years was over. I was shocked. We had three young children together and I had to find somewhere to live in less than 10 weeks! And during lockdown.
I’m still passionate about my business but Covid has given me some real perspective. We all know that life is lived moment by moment. I should know; I teach, write and talk about this stuff! And yet it is so easy to ignore it in practise. We are either locked in the past chastising ourselves for something we’ve done (or not done) or looking out to the future to something not yet lived. And yet the only moment really is right now. Covid has taught me to live more in the present and cherish those little moments, wherever they come from and can be found.
Like many of us I’ve done more exercise in the last few months than the last few years put together. Come rain or shine I now cycle, wild swim or run in and around North Wales. When I run over to Conwy Castle I take off my trainers and socks and do 20 minutes of yoga. I’ve always loved yoga but found it hard to discipline myself to do it regularly.
I have found a place close to my kids and my ex and I are sharing the parenting. When I am with them, I am with them, not thinking about what I need to do tomorrow. I am celebrating those tiny little moments. I’m not perfect. I’ve not got it all figured out and I’m not going to wear a cape any time soon. But I am starting small and building from there.
Work is important for all of us because it gives us an avenue for self-expression and to find meaning and purpose in life. Certainly, my business does that for me. I love seeing how the work we do changes lives, but it is just one aspect of my life – it is not who I am. Covid taught me that.
I don’t need to buy into the stereotypes of what a man needs to be or should be to be happy. I can be all those things and more. I can be a caring, loving and present father without impacting my working life.
One of my favourite books is the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer and his big question is; do you want to be happy? Pre-Covid, how many of us were really happy? How many of us have realised how little we need to spend to be perfectly contented? How many of us have enjoyed the little things and been surprised by our discovery? According to a YouGov poll only 8% of Britons want to go back to live as it was before Covid. I am definitely one of the 92%.
Yes, this has been an unusual and difficult time and there is likely to be more uncertainty ahead, but it has also been a gift. An opportunity to stop and assess just how happy we were. An opportunity for us to reset – reboot our lives the way we want them to be so we can be the best version of ourselves more of the time.
Did you have an interesting or inspiring experience of lockdown? Have you or your company made changes as a result of lockdown? Get in touch below if you’d like to contribute to this series on working dads and lockdown.