I recently stopped by Ripcord.com, an up-and-coming tech company in the Bay area. While there, I bumped into their CEO, Alex Fielding, and stopped to chat for a bit. The conversation touched on everything from business to pleasure. However, what struck me the most was that Alex Fielding has recently become a dad. I found this interesting since I have also recently become a first-time father. After the conversation was over, I began thinking about how many other people are trying to manage a company, a career, and being a new parent.
Time To Conduct Some Research
I began to do some research in the area to learn how many people were in the same position as myself and Alex Fielding. I also wanted to know what each of these people did to balance their work and parenting lives. It took a little time, but I got a great sampling of both men and women CEOs who recently become parents. What I discovered is that there are some straightforward ways to balance out parenting and your workload.
Schedule “Baby Time” And Honor It
What many of the CEO’s including Alex Fielding, told me was to schedule in baby time. It may sound silly, but it works. As a CEO, you live by a schedule. You schedule appointments and calendar events all day long. Use this technique to make sure that you have designated time with your baby each day.
When you are a CEO, especially of a startup, your day runs more than 9 to 5. You need to schedule at that time, even if it is an extended lunch at home, to spend some time with your baby. The most important thing that each CEO stated was that you must honor this meeting each day. It is easy to reschedule meetings, but this meeting with your baby each day should be one that you honor each time.
Take Advantage Of Baby Time
When you have a brand-new baby, it is easy to put off baby time because it may feel as if all they do is sleep. In reality, that is what most new babies do all day. However, this is a great time for you as a parent to bond with your baby. Sit in a rocking chair, lay on the couch with them on your chest, curl up with them in a big comfy chair and let them sleep. Having that physical contact not only makes your baby feel safe, but it also helps build a bond. It is a “down” time for you. It is a quiet time. It is time to relax and enjoy the feel of your baby. As many people will tell you, being able to hold your baby and let the world melt away around you is a feeling like no other.
Make Sure That You Focus On Baby Time
Even in the midst of founding a new company, Alex Fielding brought up one very important fact about having time with your baby – make sure that you focus on that time. Put away your phone, stay off your laptop, avoid taking calls, or even doing chores around the home. Devote that time to your baby. When you are in a meeting with a client or business partner, you remain focused on the task at hand. Make sure you apply this to the time you spend with your baby.
Give Yourself Some Credit and Some Time
If you really want to be a great parent and a successful CEO, you have to take some time for yourself. You need downtime to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. It may seem impossible to find time for yourself when you are juggling a career and a newborn, but it is mandatory for your personal health and well-being. When you have dedicated some time to yourself each day to relax and recover from your day, you can appreciate your accomplishments. You can also be well rested for your next hectic day.
To be a good parent, you need to feel good. If you are overstressed or overtired, it will be very hard to be patient as a parent. Rest is necessary; you must come to terms with this fact. It is also essential to give yourself some credit each day for everything that you have accomplished. It is a hard task trying to manage a baby and a career – and you deserve to take credit for making it happen.
Don’t Worry About What Other People Think
One of the things I discovered when interviewing CEOs like Alex Fielding Ripcord is that they don’t worry about what others think about their work or parenting style. Many new parents, especially new moms, fear that they are being judged by their friends and family for their parenting and by their co-workers for their dedication to work. Many CEOs reported that they were afraid that when they started dedicating specific time to be with their new baby each day, their co-workers would feel like they were not pulling their weight at work. This often led to them cramming more work into each minute of the day than they ever did before having the baby. It also led to feeling miserable and overworked.
One of the important things to remember is that you are making these choices to spend time with your baby because you know you can manage your workload without having to give up this special time. You did not become a CEO or start a company because you were not committed to its success. You have this position because of your commitment to the company, and a change in your schedule will not impact that dedication. In fact, balancing your home life and your business life should be seen more as an inspiration to fellow workers than a downfall.
It’s Ok For You To Work
Another issue that I found that was very prominent with the women that I spoke with is the guilt associated with returning to work after giving birth. Many found that they felt guilty for wanting to return to their careers. What each CEO told me is that everyone, men or women, must tell themselves that it is OK to return to work after their baby is born. You are working to support yourself and your family. You are building something that will be meaningful for your family now and in the future.
Returning to work is hard, there is no doubt about that, but it doesn’t have to be guilt-ridden. Even many male CEOs felt guilty for returning to work after their baby was born because they felt as if they left their spouse to manage all of the care. If that is a concern, Alex Fielding Ripcord recommends making spouse time part of your schedule.
Taking dedicated time to make your spouse feel appreciated is great for your marriage and great for a new parent that is dedicating all of their time to caring for your newborn. Many couples report that the hardest part about having a new baby is that one partner feels as if they are just the caregiver, and the other feels as if they are just the provider. Make sure that you take time to feel like a couple, and all the rest will work out.
It Is Okay To Make Mistakes
When you make a mistake as a CEO, you could cost your company money or clients. When you make a mistake as a parent, you can do better the next day. CEOs all have a personality trait that leads them to expect perfection. They work hard to achieve their goals and avoid simple mistakes. Parenting is not that direct. You can and will make mistakes as a parent, and you need to tell yourself that it is okay. Regardless of preparations, books read, classes taken, or even advice that you have received will not prevent you from making some mistakes when caring for your baby.
You Are Not Your Parents
Every CEO, starting with Alex Fielding Ripcord, had one comment in common. They all say that you must look at yourself as an individual as a parent. You are a different person than your own parents. You do not have the same life situations as them, so there is no reason to copy their parenting lifestyle. You live in a new generation with new benefits and new challenges. You must adjust your own parenting skills to fill these needs. You simply cannot raise your children like your parents did because times have changed. You face many new social issues, new diseases, new dangers, and new choices for your children. Your children are growing up in the technology age, and these are things that must be considered.
You must also consider the differences in your jobs, in your neighborhoods, and even in your family circle that is different from when you grew up. All of these things are important to adjusting a parenting style for today. You may want to take your parent's advice to heart, and this does not mean that you think they were bad people, but you must parent for today and not the previous generation.
What I discovered most from speaking with these different executives is that they all believe in taking a hands-on approach to their parenting. They dedicate the necessary time to their newborns and to their jobs. These executives do not allow themselves to fall into the "social norms" or "expectations" of others. They are their own people, and they are perfectly fine with that distinction.
Most of these executives have help caring for their newborn at some point. However, these are the same people that look to other members of their organization to accomplish goals in their business. Using the skills, they have developed as CEO, squarespace pricing or starting their businesses can easily be applied to their parenting skills and duties. It helps these business-minded parents remain positive in all areas of their lives.
These prominent executives are also very positive about balancing their personal lives and work lives. Approaching everything in a positive manner helps create a positive outcome. I also discovered that while men and women have different opinions in some areas on this topic, overall, they are quite the same. Men and women both want to make sure that they have time to enjoy the gift of raising a new baby.
Some of the CEOs were very open about this subject matter, while some struggled with the issue. For those that struggle, it is because they feel that their choices may be seen as ones other people may not understand. But that is okay. Your baby, and later your children, will not be concerned with what other people think about your parenting style, they will only enjoy the relationship that has built with you.