Our 390th Dad in the Limelight is Simon Smith. I want to thank Simon for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
I have a Dad blog about fatherhood and change (www.changingdad.com), which has now been going for well over a year. I also run a life coaching business, also called ChangingDad, from the same website. The business is for new (and not so new) Fathers and Dads to be. I think that there’s not much out there in the way of support for Dads, certain when compared with Mums, and I wanted to help redress the balance a bit.
I have been through quite a lot of change in during my relatively short time as a Father. I have gone through the loss of my own Father to cancer, been made redundant as part of a long and drawn out restructure, moved to a different city with my family, and have undertaken extensive training to become a qualified life coach. I want to support men who are going though many of the changes that I’ve been through.
2) Tell me about your family
I live in Sheffield, England with my wife and two boys who are 3 and 6. I feel very fortunately to now be in a position where I can mostly work at home and watch my boys grow up. I really enjoy family time; especially going out to parks, play centres and museums. It is important to me that I can do the morning school run and be there when my boys need me.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
I remember getting home from the hospital with my wife and new born first child and wondering, what happens now? After a week, and a particularly bad night I rang the maternity unit for help. The reply I got was effectively “he’s a baby, they cry” which actually really helped. Since then I find it a real challenge between wanting to bring the boys up right and making sure they are happy. I think that we can sometime be a bit too hung up on their behavior, being worried about what others think rather than what’s good for our kids.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Enjoy it! Your children grow up very quickly and you really don’t want to miss a thing. It is difficult when children come along because we think we have to give things up to accommodate them (sports, music, nights out, reading etc…). It has taken me years to realize that it’s not about making room, it’s just about being a Dad and that’s brilliant. Your kids think you are a hero, what does that mean for you?
5) Seeing that you (or your position) are in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? If you are currently not in the limelight per se, please still answer this in regards to how you balance parenthood and outside life.
Having said what I said in 4), that doesn’t mean you can’t have a life and my wife and I have times when we have little retreats (either together or alone) which recharge our batteries and these give us the things we need. This allows us to be much more engaged parents for the rest of the time. We have to plan carefully because we don’t have family nearby to help out, but it is an essential part of our family life.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
I’ve learned that most Dads I know love being Dads. I’ve also learned that we Dads have different qualities and different approaches to fatherhood. None of these are right and wrong, we just have to find what’s right for us. So I’ve learned to honor other Dads for what they do. That way I don’t feel I’m a worse or better Dad than anyone else. Just different.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
Being a Father is the most difficult thing I have ever done. There is a cliché about there being no manual, and for all the self help books out there (and there are some good ones) no one can tell you how to be Dad you really want to be, only you know that. We all have it in us to be a great Dad, and that’s what I try to do with my clients. No advice, just help to you to be yourself by helping you know and love yourself.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
I’m not sure I know where to start with this one as there have been so many great memories but here goes:
– being on holiday in Auckland, New Zealand when my wife first told me she was pregnant. We had been trying for some time and it was just an amazing feeling that I can still vividly remember
– waking up on the sofa with one of the boys sleeping on my chest, very special
– weekly swimming courses
– driving back from the supermarket in rush hour, putting my hand behind to grab something and having toothpaste squirted over it resulting in complete panic on my behalf and roaring laughter from the two boys behind. I can laugh about it now.
If you have any questions for Sinon, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!