Parenting Tips from the Professionals: Tom Beardshaw
How can fathers successfully combine hands-on parenting with a City career? Tom Beardshaw, who leads the Paternity Transition Coaching at the Executive Coaching Consultancy, offers some expert advice.
Men are perfectly evolved to become highly competent and capable parents, with intimate relationships with their children, but our society is not organised to make that happen. Indeed, much of how we organise our families and working lives conspires against men becoming hands on parents.
So if you want to combine a demanding career with becoming an involved parent who genuinely shares parenting with your partner, you’ll need to proactively shape your involvement in family life. Think about how you can create a framework for your work and family life that maximises your opportunities to forge a close relationship with your children and pursue the career of your dreams.
1. Be closely involved with your partner’s pregnancy and the lead up to the birth
Men who are close to their pregnant partners experience changes in their brain chemistry1 that strengthen their immune system, prime them for nurturing behaviours and for creating new relationships. The bond between you and your baby can start way before the birth, so get involved in supporting your partner’s health, preparing for the birth and spending time together discussing what you want for your new baby and new family.
2. Coordinate with your partner
You are not in this alone. You are part of a team running the family, so work with your teammate to keep the vital conversations about who does what alive. You’ll need to break with traditional ideas about a man’s involvement with family and if your partner is not onboard with that, it will cause difficulties. She will affect your relationship with your children more profoundly than anyone else, so make it a partnership.
3. Create a routine that gives you regular time with your children
Children get security through stable routines, including in their relationship with their dad. With a high pressure, demanding career, we can often find ourselves time poor, so it’s vital that we create routines that give us regular connections with them. It could be taking responsibility for getting them up and having breakfast in the mornings (if your evenings are unpredictable), bath or bedtime, or even a lunchtime video call with them. Create a routine that gives you a chance to connect regularly.
4. Secure a flexible working arrangement from your workplace
Fewer dads ask for flexible working arrangements, and fewer are granted it, so the odds are against you unless you take a strategic approach. There are plenty of working arrangements which won’t reduce the amount you earn or work - remote working and compressed hours are popular for maintaining career and earning potential. Write a business case, setting out the precise details of the arrangement you want. Include a trial period, performance goals, measurement system and review process to help your managers, colleagues and HR team feel confident about your ideas.
5. Manage your energy levels, as well as your time.
When we become parents, our time is squeezed and mostly we think about time management. Few of us think about managing the energy we have to fill that time, which can often be more useful. Sleeping well is the most important thing you can do, but regular exercise can also help the amount of energy you have. Mindfulness practices can improve the quality of your energy - your ability to focus and concentrate. Think about managing your energy as much as you think about managing your time.
Tom Beardshaw leads on Parental Transition Coaching with fathers at the Executive Coaching Consultancy in London, He was a co-founder of www.dad.info and was a director of the UK Fatherhood Institute, leading the parliamentary lobby to get paternity leave introduced into UK law in 2003.
Executive Coaching Consultancy (https://executive-coaching.co.uk)
ECC first launched in 1994 as one of the first dedicated executive coaching providers. They now work with a variety of clients often as an extension to their own internal resource providing executive coaching, leadership development and coach training programmes. They work alongside market-leading organisations to improve retention and develop their diversity strategies. They are renowned for supporting businesses to retain their female talent and helping them meet their gender equality objectives. In essence, they help businesses develop their talented people.
 For a review of changes in new fathers’ brain chemistry, with references, see http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/FI-Research-Summary-Dads-and-Hormones.pdf
Released On 31st Mar 2017