How to Balance Business with Fatherhood

How to Balance Business with Fatherhood

To mark Father’s Day this weekend, six leading businessmen from across the UK share their advice and opinions on juggling family life with their careers

By Alex Fisher

Maintaining a pressurized job whilst spending enough time with the kids can be difficult at the best of times - and it's something that dads simply don’t get enough credit for. With Father's Day on the horizon and many working dads juggling their career and kids in lockdown, five British entrepreneurial fathers have shared their experiences of trying to find the perfect work-life balance

The working fathers have shared their triumphs and mistakes, along with advice they'd tell their younger selves. The relatable pearls of wisdom are a must-read for working parents or first-time dads. 

Danny Toffel

Founder & CEO of Watches2U International | Father to two daughters (14 & 16) | Surrey-based

What's the biggest challenge of juggling your job with fatherhood? 

I’ve always struggled to switch off from work. At my worst, I didn’t take a day off for seven years straight, including Christmas Day, meaning that my relationship with my kids suffered. Even when I'm out of the office, it’s all too easy to log on and do a little extra work at home or quickly check emails during family time.

How did you handle or overcome this? 

Once I realized how much I’d missed of my kids growing up, I actively invested in improving my work/life balance. I’ve found that it’s crucial to mentally clock out of work where possible so that I can be fully present with my family. I try to leave my job at the office. 

What advice would you give to someone who has recently become a father and also has a high profile job to maintain? 

Start as you mean to go on in terms of the time you spend with your family versus work. It’s easy to slip into bad habits but extremely difficult to get out of them. As cliche as it sounds, you will never get the children’s younger years back. 

Christian Beadell

Head of Medical Negligence at Patient Claim Line | Father to four sons (11, 13, 15, 18) & one daughter (7) | Manchester-based 

What's the biggest challenge of juggling your job with fatherhood? 

After our second child was born, we took the decision to minimize the amount of time they would spend with childminders or in afterschool clubs - despite the fact that my wife also has a busy, pressured job which involves a long commute. For me, it was really important to be there for them at the school gate or sports field and not for them to miss out in any way.

How did you handle or overcome this?

I have made some calculated career decisions to work flexible hours where needed or pursue roles that restrict the demands on my time. I have worked at smaller law firms with a family feel and this has stood me in good stead, enabling me to have a challenging and rewarding career but also to be there for my children.

What advice would you give to someone who has recently become a father and also has a high profile job to maintain?

Decide what is important to you. You will not get the time back with your children and whilst some employers may say they are family friendly, not all are. When you have a partner that works also, get used to compromising early on! 

Frederic de Ryckman de Betz

CEO of Attic Self Storage Company | Father to two sons (8) | London-based 

What's the biggest challenge of juggling your job with fatherhood? 

At first, it was a constant sense of guilt. When I was at home, I felt guilty for not being at work. When I was at work, I felt guilty for not being at home. More recently, it’s trying to find time for myself in and amongst all the madness.

How did you handle or overcome this? 

I sacrificed my own time, and learned to live with the guilt. Over time, I realized that many in my team faced similar challenges, and that by sharing our experiences and encouraging each other to make time for our families, it got easier. 

What advice would you give to someone who has recently become a father and also has a high profile job to maintain? 

Be open about your challenges, and ask your team for their help, support and advice. You’re not alone, and being a father is something to be proud of. You can’t wind the clock back so ask yourself: how do you want to be remembered as a father? 

Lee Simpson

PR Consultant at Fourth Day | Father to one daughter (2) & one son (5) | Manchester-based 

What's the biggest challenge of juggling your job with fatherhood? 

Trying to do everything to the best of your ability is constantly challenging. As any parent will tell you, often you have to accept that you just can't. 

What advice would you give to someone who has recently become a father and also has a high profile job to maintain? 

During lockdown when we, as families, are all spending so much time together, try to remember to dedicate some time every day to your kids away from homeschool. It could be doing a jigsaw together, fighting with lightsabers or building a den in the woods.

Whatever it is, I think it's important children know you have time for them no matter what, and not time spent telling them to get on with work or screaming at them to eat vegetables. It sounds so simple but I hope I will remember this after the lockdown and always make sure I make time for them. 

What do you think has been the best part of working from home during lockdown?

Despite all its hardships and the obvious nightmares relating to Covid-19, I hope we will look back on this period fondly and remember trying to laugh our way through it. I complain relentlessly about it but I'm sure part of me will miss having children jumping on the bed next to where I'm working every day. 

Peter Rigby

Legal Department Head at Fletchers Serious Injury | Father of two daughters (2, 12) & three sons (5, 8, 9) | Southport-based 

What are some challenges you have faced whilst working from home around the family?

One challenge has been finding a way to change my mindset from work to home as there is no natural break at the end of each day. That is why it has become so important to put technology to one side for family time.

What do you think has been the best part of working from home during lockdown?

It has given me more time with the children and I feel I have gotten to know their personalities and needs better. I certainly feel closer to them as a parent.

Have you learnt anything from self-isolation/working from home in the past few months?

I have learned how important it is to have time away from screens. My children would comfortably sit in front of a screen for hours on end. Some screen time is ok, but they also need to use their imagination and make their own fun in the garden, with toys or with arts and crafts.

Manav Thapar

Managing Director at Loveraw | Father to one daughter (4) & one son (1) | Altrincham-based 

What have you found to be the biggest challenge about juggling your job with fatherhood?

Feeling guilty when I’m working instead of spending time with the kids. Owning a business is like having another child that needs just as much attention and care, and no matter which one you spend time with, you feel like you’re neglecting the others. Managing that balance is something I’ve always tried to work on.

How did you handle or overcome this obstacle?

We try to involve the kids as much as possible by bringing them to the office and making sure they know how the business affects them and us as a family. When I plan my week, I start with family time and schedule around that. If you focus on what’s most important to you first, you can always build around it.

What advice would you give to someone who has recently become a father and also has a high-profile job to maintain?

Take advantage of every second your baby sleeps by trying to get as much work done as possible. If you’re lucky enough to have a team, aim to delegate as much as you can, and plan your days well. I know exactly where all my time is being spent – right down to the minute.

About the Author

Alex Fisher is Digital PR and Content Executive at Cedarwood Digital - a digital marketing agency based in Manchester. Cedarwood offers a range of digital marketing services to support growing businesses, from management of individual marketing campaigns to full PPC and SEO strategies to consultancy for in-house teams & training support.