What is my one biggest success and failure as a parent? (part 1)

For me, I actually find driving on my own quite therapeutic (roadworks aside). Driving gives me the chance to evaluate in my head what’s going well and what’s not going so well in my life – this can be all aspects of life, not just parenting.
There are no interruptions with phones or children (only when driving with work) and it gives me a chance to reflect. So where am I going with this post you may be wondering? It’s been some time since I was in a job interview situation, but when I’m driving, I often think how I would answer certain questions – don’t ask me why, but two questions often enter my head are:

  1. What would be your biggest success to date in work or personally?
  2. What would be your biggest failure to date in work or personally?

Driving…a chance to reflect? Not with these two at the wheel!

How would I answer these? Now, I’ll be honest, I think about question 1 quite a bit and I arrive at the same conclusion each time. My answer is simply being the best possible Daddy to two children and holding down a demanding full time job – which I appreciate many other people do too.

For the purpose of these articles, I’ll keep on with the parenting theme for question 2 as well (part 2), although I doubt in an interview I’d give two parenting examples.

So why to date is my biggest success being the best possible Daddy and holding a job down? I was having this conversation very recently with a friend and I can hand on heart say that, ironically, I spend more ‘quality’ time now with my children as a co-parent than what I did when I was with the children’s mother.

Rightly or wrongly and I appreciate I’m generalising here but when in a traditional relationship with children, there can be an ignorance (intended or unintended) towards the other adult. Because there is another adult, there naturally seems to be a reliance on the other parent. If I think back to when I was in a relationship with the children’s Mummy and what the dynamics of it were like, I can safely say certain scenarios were taken for granted – this of course can work both ways.

It could be that dinner or catch up with friends, a sport or hobby taking more time up than it ought to, a late finish with work, or simply coming in from the office and then doing more work and then grabbing a shower or something – all while the children are playing downstairs, eating or watching TV, knowing that the other parent will supervise.

“On the 19th hole? Or making time for me?” – a fine balance…

I’m not saying the above is wrong and a massive advantage of being in a traditional relationship is the luxury of having another adult to help out. I suppose, when the above examples become excessive or constant, that’s when you are bordering on selfishness and an over reliance on the other adult!

Although in my case, when a situation is thrust upon you, certain changes need to be made to accommodate things.  I know people who wake up and go to work before their children are up for the day and are often home after they are in bed. Like I say, certain situations cannot be helped, but for me, I am grateful that I’ve managed to find a good mix.

Time management is key in all this – both at home and at work! But as a parent, I would say my situation has made me a more considerate and understanding Father. I know when I will have my children, that time is precious and I therefore do my best to plan and fit everything else in around that. Of course, there are some situations which I can’t get out of and that is normal, but majority of the time the above applies.

Discipline plays a fundamental part here too, I don’t mean how I discipline the children, but more about self discipline. I’m talking about a sound work/life balance, leaving the work phone in a different room at 5:30pm to avoid temptation – we all can find it hard to switch off at times and I think, for me, this is a vital component when being a single parent. I guess if you must check your phone and emails, there is always when the children are in bed?

Next week is mental health week and as I work in healthcare, I will at times look to include relevant topics or where I can, relate certain areas to my posts. This years mental health week is aptly named ‘Surviving or Thriving’. What would be your answer to this?

I know for a fact, for a long period of time I’ve been just ‘Surviving’, but little changes over time can result in a positive shift overall and improve what the professionals refer to as resilience.  This is something I’ve personally worked on to try to get to the ‘Thriving’ point. There’s an interesting article and video here too on building up your resillience – https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/coping-with-stress-resilience.

So in short, my biggest success to date is trying to be the best Daddy possible within the confines presented to me, all whilst trying to be a respected and trusted employee within my profession. It’s not been easy and clearly, this didn’t happen overnight. However, over time I’ve learnt to say no to things without the feeling of guilt, I find I am more able to ask for help if I’m feeling overwhelmed – this is something I am still personally and professionally working on. Perhaps most importantly here, I will take time out for myself and my children.  My response may not get me the job, but I suppose that would all depend on the circumstances of the interviewer!

Taking time out to go for some food with the kids.

Part 2 – what my biggest failure is, can be found here


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