The question I get asked a lot is: ‘How does your wife do it all?’
‘How does she look after the kids, run the household and the business?’
It’s always tough to answer these questions on the fly, so I thought I’d write something down for the new dads and ‘co-owners’ out there who are finding their way and who, like me, prefer to have a more 50/50 approach to parenting, running the household and the business.
My wife, Nikki, is seen to be able ‘to do it all’ because she doesn’t ‘do it all’. Together, ‘we do it all’.
We have been able, and continue to do all, of the above because, in our marriage, there is no ‘his’ or ‘her’ job. We don’t have traditional ‘gender-specific roles,’ we just do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, by the person who is better at it, enjoys it more, or simply has the free time to do it. We’re a team, always supporting one another and picking up the slack where needed.
It’s interesting that in this day and age, there’s still sometimes a perception that the husband is the breadwinner and the wife is the primary caregiver. Not in our household, and not in our business either. I appreciate we have a unique situation where Nikki and I work together and for ourselves so this allows us a bit more freedom to do things as we like, but at the end of the day, it’s not 1952. We want to raise our kids together, run the business together, so we do all we can to ensure that happens.
So, if you’re a bloke out there wanting to have a bigger hand in raising your kids and sorting the house as well as bringing in the cash, have a wee read of what we do. Hopefully, you can take something away from our routine and apply it to your life.
A day in the life
Firstly, I love Nikki unconditionally, so everything I do is because of this — that’s the foundation right there. But let’s break down how our day runs so I can show you examples of how we do things. I’ll start at the end of our working day and finish at the end of our working day. I hope that makes sense?
Nikki and I both finish work together at 4pm. We then make our way home to our four beautiful, hyper/tired and hungry children. Once I walk through the door, I’m on! The first 15-30 minutes is kid time for me. I hug every one of my loveable grommets, then take them outside to play on the trampoline, or feed the farm animals. They love this, and I really sense their joy of Dad taking the time to play and engage in their crazy chitchat. This gives Nikki the chance to finish off any work that needs to be done before the end of the business day, such as late meetings or phone calls. Nikki is the creative mind behind our business and the face of our brand, so when we head home, there’s usually more stuff for her to do work-wise that needs immediate attention. I take charge of the day-to-day running of the business, handle all operations and logistics and am often thinking about ‘the big picture stuff’, so this doesn’t always have to be done immediately. Generally, I can get what I need to do done at the office so I can be more hands-on with the kids at home.
Once the kids are back inside they jump all over Mum for a while, and I get stuck into dinner prep and lunchboxes for the next day. My wife and I don’t ever communicate whose job is whose, we just know. Sounds weird, but it’s an unspoken thing that can be put down to five years of parenting together, and just knowing what needs to be done, and when.
Also, we do what we enjoy to make the daily routine more fun. I think it’s a good idea for you and your partner to figure out what you both enjoy doing too, to make things that bit easier. For example, I love food prep and making healthy lunches and dinners for my children, so it’s fun for me and doesn’t feel like a chore, whereas Nikki doesn’t enjoy that side of things as much. We work as a team and play up to each other’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences. That’s key.
I serve dinner at 5.30-6pm. We all sit together, and my wife and I each help out feeding the kids because sometimes they decide it’s too hard to lift their fork or spoon to their mouths!
Once dinner is done and dusted, Mum gets the dishes done (I’m not a huge fan of dishes, whereas Nikki doesn’t mind doing them, so again, do what you enjoy to make things easier) and generally I go watch a movie or show with the kids. The little loveable monsters have wound down by then (usually).
Once the kitchen is clean, Nikki usually heads into our home office to tidy up a few loose ends. Even though we physically leave the work office at 4pm, it doesn’t mean our business day stops then.
When the kids start becoming disinterested in the screen and more interested in baiting and attacking each other, I’m back on! I get our youngest (Jackson) off to bed, then his brother Kace, and last but not least the two girls, Caden and Ryan, who share a room. Sounds easy right? Shiiiit no! This can be the most full-on part of the night! I won’t go into detail but it’s something I really embrace. Generally, at about 8pm, they’re all finally toes up for the night! In the heat of battle it can be quite full-on, but I find it very rewarding. Nothing better than tucking your kids into bed right?
Nikki works at speed to get the work done and if I need it, she’ll pop out and give me a hand, and vice versa.
We both get into bed at about 8.30pm and have a chat about the day, kids, work and life. Always finishing on positives that will allow us to hit the pillow with ease and switch off as quick as we can. The night ahead can be very full-on at times, but it’s another chance for me to do my bit. My wife carried and gave birth to our four children, so if I can do all I can now they’re out, it’s a no brainer for me!
At about 1-2am our youngest will occasionally wake, I’ll get up to grab him and take him to Nikki to breastfeed. One of us will change him and then get him back to bed, as to who does that depends on how the rest of the kids are going that night.
My wife is the world’s deepest sleeper and I wake up to the smallest sound, so it’s a lot easier for me to go sort out the kids. On the odd occasion, one of them will wet the bed. They generally come to my side of the bed and give me the ‘I pissed the bed’ look. In my sleep trance, I change the sheets, tuck them in and jump back to bed.
The funny thing is, I’m always up first, even if I’ve been up and down all night. This is not a ‘his job’ or ‘her job’ thing, I just like to get up at 5-5.30am to get breakfast organised and cram in a quick workout. I know my body and mind work better like this, and it’s a good chance for me to switch on before the kids rise and welcome them with a big smile and a hug! I hate getting up at the same time all shitty, and starting our day off badly.
By 6am the kids are all up, hungry and for the most part fully charged! I’ve sorted breakfast and we all tuck in as a family. Nikki and I chat about work amongst the chaos, moving about feeding the kids and tidying up as we go.
We then flick on some music and Nikki will dance and sing with the kids while I get their school bags ready so we can grab and go when needed. I’ll then jump into the dance party for a bit, and then send the kids off to get dressed. I’ve tried the ‘organise their clothes the night before’ thing but that’s a complete waste of time! They generally know what they want and I suppose it’s a good chance for them to take ownership.
At 8.15am, we’re out the door for school and kindy drop-offs. This can be a hard time for the kids, but we both fully understand how to work through it, this comes with experience I guess.
Nikki and I then both jump in the car and off to work we go. We will chat all the way there and we really treasure those few ‘quiet’ moments when it’s just the two of us. Some mornings are better than others, but we are super positive people and that helps a lot.
Once we’re at work, I’ve got my ‘work hat’ on and I get stuck in. I usually only have about six hours at the office before I am back being a dad (my most important role), so I don’t have time to muck about too much. They say if you want something done fast, ask a busy person. I totally believe when you’re busy and time-poor, you just get things done more efficiently, because, you have to! Both Nikki and I are great with time-management, we keep meetings short, sharp, succinct so we’re not wasting time yarning about unimportant matters.
We are fortunate to have a good number of staff working for us now, so instead of us going crazy to get every little thing done, we now spend more time checking-in on our staff, answering any questions, and being there to troubleshoot issues if they need our help. So for the first hour or so, Nikki and I just see how everyone is going and talk about anything urgent that needs to be done that day.
In saying that though, Nikki and I couldn’t just swan in and check on staff so easily if we didn’t have the right people working for us. You simply have to hire well. It’s a no brainer, and any business owner will understand how costly it can be when you get the wrong person working for you. We take our time when hiring, we don’t rush, and we go off of our gut feeling. It’s been right every time so far. We hire more on personality than skill-set. Of course, skill-set comes into it, but if there are two people who look about the same on paper, but one I connect with instantly, that person is getting the job, every time, hands down. You can train people up to do a job, but you can’t teach people how to work with others, how to have a strong work ethic, how to think on their feet. It’s either in them, or it’s not.
So, that’s the morning. Generally, the afternoon is spent brainstorming the next major project (there’s always so much going on, Nikki has a million ideas) or implementing a project, so I’m often in my own zone, listening to my music figuring out how we’re going to do things. It also helps to be the husband of the ‘Boss Mumma’ because I can make her turn her phone off and answer my questions straight away. That helps when you’ve only got six hours to get the majority of your work done!
Pretty quickly, 3pm rolls around, and I then have to start thinking about being a dad again. It doesn’t mean I’m gone for the day by any means, I’m always available to staff, always pick up my phone and we have a Facebook group that our team all chat on. We don’t need to be in the office to see that, and that’s key. It means Nikki and I can confidently leave the office at any hour and our team can get a hold of us if need be.
So, there you have it! That is how we operate. It’s not rocket science, but it all comes down to doing what you enjoy, being good with your time, and doing what makes the most sense for your day-to-day lives. Picking up the slack when your partner can’t, for whatever reason, and just constantly supporting each other throughout the day. Good communication is vital.
I’m very aware that not everyone’s family situation is like ours, but if I have anything to pass on it would be to take a moment to look at your wife and kids and truly appreciate what she has been through to make such beautiful children for the both of you. Take the time to think about how you could possibly help her in any way to make things easier. She’s doing the same for you too, but make sure you return the favour. Hug her, kiss her, love her and do what’s right, for you, her, and your kids.
Number one rule in my eyes: there is no his or her job! We’re a team.
This piece was first published on Smart Company.