Seven years ago, our former CEO, Dean Fischer, held a meeting for parents or parents to be, called Pops for Parents. He and other leaders at West Monroe with children stood before the group, and told us their tips and tricks to managing a consulting lifestyle, while still being good parents and spouses. He reiterated a few different times that “there is no reason you can’t have it all”. Many of the leaders had spouses that stayed at home, and only a few had working spouses.
That stuck with me throughout the years, and now that I’m a parent (with another little boy on the way), I find myself trying to live the very lifestyle that was described by leadership several years ago.
My experience as a working father is challenging not because of the fast pace, ever-changing client needs and high growth of our company, but more importantly because I also have an extremely successful and driven wife, who is also in consulting. Watching how hard my wife works, and what a great mother she is, inspires me to step up my “Dad Game”.
Our life is best described as chaotic – especially if we are both traveling. We have had to ask our companies to help us out, and turn down travel that occurs on the same days (duh – no kiddie kennel for our little boy!). I have been described as a workaholic in the past, but over the past couple of years I have learned to fit more and more into the time that I do have at work. When it is time to pick up my son from daycare, nothing gets in my way to see him. When calls get scheduled over bath time, I skip them or politely explain that I’m not going to work during those times. There are situations that require me to make sacrifices as a father, and it is my job as an employee, husband and dad to make sure I can live with those sacrifices. Some things I’m willing to give up, and others I’m not. Everyone has their own set of priorities, and for me, being a good and engaged father is at the very top. I had a great example from my parents, and intend to pay it forward.
I started jotting down things that have worked over the last couple of years, to remind myself to do certain behaviors more often. For the working Dads out there who also have a working spouse, I might have some tips that can help you out:
Coming full circle here—I went to a White Sox game with Dean again a few months ago. He declared before we headed into the game that “if I died right now, nobody could say that they had a better life than I did”. What an awesome statement. The next morning, I planned to tell my wife about this, but as we stood in the kitchen with our son making breakfast, I thought the exact same thing about my own life. Instead I smiled and thought that maybe he was right, maybe you can have it all.