Working in Digital: Lessons I’ve Learned From Being a (New) Dad in Advertising
My wife and I welcomed our son in late Summer 2020. It’s been an amazing experience becoming a dad, and there’s been a lot to learn and adjust to. Outside of navigating having a baby during a global pandemic, I had to grapple with the age-old challenge of becoming a working dad. Or is it becoming a dad who works? I’ll be the first to admit it hasn’t been a perfect transition, and I’ve learned a ton along the way. The office is also the kitchen and happy hour includes a sippy cup and Cocomelon, but I still get pizza, so at least there’s that. Since becoming a new dad who works, I’ve put into practice a few helpful communications tactics that have smoothed the transition into ‘Dadvertising.’
My wife and I both work, and we both like our jobs. We’re extremely lucky to have some built-in flexibility in our work schedules, and we talk daily about upcoming meetings so we can plan things like pick-up, drop-off, doctor’s appointments, and who prepares our son’s dinner each evening. Not everyone has a partner, but at the very least, identifying a trusted child care support system can help establish a more manageable schedule, sense of routine, and, most importantly, a balance that works best for you.
Be as open as you’re comfortable being when talking to your supervisor and your team about your needs and goals as both a parent and working professional. If you have to reschedule meetings for an appointment, take a day off to care for a sick kid, and anything in between, the more information and heads up you give your team, the more (and better) support they can provide.
Children, and especially babies, don’t abide by a 9 to 6 scheduled work day. I’ve had the great fortune of working at a company that appreciates working parents and understands the value of offering parents flexibility when they need it most, while also encouraging them to set boundaries.
For me, I’m very intentional about establishing blocks of time on my calendar that are dedicated to spending time with my family after work. For example, I never miss bathtime and bedtime, so it’s blocked on my calendar every day to help reduce one-off meetings from interrupting an important routine for my family.
When I was interviewing with PMG, it was important for me to communicate my goals and priorities. I had a young son and I knew I wanted to be a dad who works, not an employee who is also a dad. In short, I wanted to set an expectation from the beginning that I was looking for a company that understood the balancing act of parenting and was not only accommodating but supportive. Fortunately, I found that in PMG and have reaped the benefits of the company’s culture of flexibility ever since.
Whenever possible, and even in the smallest chunks throughout the day, take some time for yourself. We tend to focus on everything else—family, work, and all the events filling the 24-hour news cycle—that we forget about ourselves. A 10-minute walk with a few songs, a phone call to a friend, making a snack, reading a book; anything that gives you a break to reset can make all the difference. Similarly, it’s important to be patient with yourself and recognize there are going to be days where you don’t absolutely crush it. In those moments, try to remember to be as understanding with yourself as you are with other people—and as you are with your kids.
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Priority setting, transparent communication, and giving yourself time and grace all seem like pretty straightforward, “no duh” things to write about. And that’s 100 percent true because it’s not hard to write all of this down. But in the 18 months I’ve been a parent who works in advertising, putting these things into practice has challenged my very being. They changed my life in ways I never really thought possible, and I’m going to continue working on them in 2022 and beyond.
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