Four years ago we welcomed a baby girl into this world. I’ve watched as she’s grown and is now at nursery. Gender doesn’t seem to matter to her, right now, and that’s great. She plays with everyone but I can also see some subtle differences in the way she interacts with girls and boys. Is this a natural part of being a girl or a boy, or is it society beginning to introduce stereotypes according to gender?

I’m committed to do everything I can to make sure my daughter can live a fulfilled life.

So far, there have been no obvious boundaries to her development based on her gender. However, I know there are probably some subtle messages coming from the older generation about what a girl should be. There is still the relentless push of anything pink and fluffy.

Sometimes it’s difficult to stop people pushing their own ideas of what it is to be a girl. I see it is my role to do as much as I can to ensure she can thrive and achieve whatever she wants . There should be no glass ceiling for her generation.

Am I being over-cautious? Perhaps, but then women have been suppressed for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

My wife is also a committed feminist. She has dedicated her career to expanding opportunities for women around the world. I’m proud of the things she has achieved, and she has also taught me to think differently. I went to all-boys school and had a particular view of the world. Now I see that equal representation between men and women is vital to the success of our society.

The Millennial Dad has a huge role to play in International Women’s Day.

The Millennial Dad is the first to grow up in a world with equal opportunities between men and women. A female of my generation is able to earn just as much and progress just as far as I am able to do. The issue comes when people have children and take time off. Work still needs to be done in this area to allow parental leave to benefit both men and women.

The Millennial Dad is part of the generation that doesn’t apply traditional gender roles. My wife and I share equal commitments at home and I like to think that we both have opportunities to pursue our careers. I would happily fulfil the role of stay-at-home parent and I’m often jealous when I read all the great SAHD blogs.

The Millennial Dad is helping to change society and benefiting feminism. Millennial parents are starting to raise children in unbiased societies where girls and boys can achieve whatever they want in life.

We are expecting another child in the next two weeks. We chose not to find out what it would be, a boy or girl. At first this annoyed me and I wanted to know as early as possible to prepare the things. But what am I really preparing for? A boy or a girl does not need any different treatment. A boy or a girl should have equal opportunities to progress in this world to the best of their abilities. A boy or girl should not be held back at all in what they want to do. It is our role as parents to ensure our children will take forward the baton. I think we have done an awful lot in the last few years to develop equal rights for both men and women. There is still much to do and many pockets of society where things are far more backward than we would like. But it’s important that we keep going, celebrating International Women’s Day and women’s achievements. I look forward to talking to my daughter tonight about all the things she wants to achieve in her life, hoping that there won’t be any barriers against reaching her goals.

And whether she has a brother or sister, I will aim to teach them the same.

People are always telling us to get a proper night’s sleep. The benchmark to aim for is around eight hours. My Jawbone Up is set at achieving 10,000 steps per day and eight hours sleep. I can usually reach my steps for the day but I probably hit my sleep count less than 10 times over the past year.

I’m not particularly good at going to bed early, although I always end up regretting it the next day. I’m also not particularly great (probably because of what I just said) at getting up early. But some of the times I have gotten up early have been my most productive. On the other side, the reason I’ve gone to bed late isn’t just because I’ve been watching a cheap horror flick on Netflix, but often because I’ve been up creating, writing, producing things.

We only have 24 hours in a day. All of us.

Nobody can gain any more or less hours but it is what we do with them that helps us to become more productive. My daytimes, as I’m sure for many other parents, are filled up almost to the max. Weekday mornings consist of getting to school and then to work, doing my work, collecting from school going home and doing a bedtime routine. By the evening I find it hard to create anything meaningful. Parents everywhere will understand the stresses and strains involved, but millennials in particular are finding a big contrast between their carefree 20s and their newfound parent lives.

I read something by Tim Ferris not too long ago where he said he produces some of his best work at night time. This got me thinking. When do I do my best work? When do I feel my most productive? How can I fit that into my daily life?

I believe we do our best work between the hours of 11 PM and 7 AM.

This sounds counter-productive, counterintuitive, counter everything we’ve been told so far. But working between these hours could be our best opportunity at getting things done.

Here are five reasons why I believe the night-time could be your most productive.

  • There are fewer distractions.

I don’t think many people would consider calling or texting between the hours of 11 PM and 7 AM, unless they were out at a party (and those don’t count, right?) Emails get sent at all times across the world but mostly in your time zone someone is not going to email you between these hours.

  • You can be productive as a night owl or an early bird.

I’m not suggesting you work through all of these hours, but working late or getting up early will give you a real edge. If you work late you can work as long as it takes to get the job done, then go to sleep and (hopefully) have a lie-in. If you can get up early you get a jump on the day ahead. Whatever you do, don’t burn the candle at both ends!

  • It’s guilt-free time.

Nobody wants work to take them away from their families. We should always try to prioritise spending time with our children. But we shouldn’t feel bad if we need to work, and 11PM to 7AM may be the best time to do this. Assuming your child is settled into a rhythm of sleep you can get on with working in the night-time without feeling guilty.

  • Your brain is energised.

If you can master night time productivity then science may be behind you. Working late and sleeping in late can keep you sharper throughout the day Getting up early in the morning primes your brain for the day ahead.

  • Join a legion of other successful people.

Don’t just rely on my hazy advice, look at the examples of so many successful people who extol the virtues of night-time working. Some of them are early risers, some work late into the night, but all managed to get things done in a way the rest of us sometimes struggle.

Try experimenting with this kind of working. You already know whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, so make a plan that works for you.

In a world that demands so much of our attention, and with increasing family responsibilities, the millennial dad needs to focus on prioritising the most important work that he can do.

Sleep is absolutely vital. What I’m proposing isn’t radical. When you sleep each night your brain is perhaps at its most productive ever; it’s sorting your experiences from the day you just had, preparing your body and mind for the following day, and gaining vital rest. So whether you take advantage of working late, working early, or trying to get those elusive eight hours sleep, you’re doing yourself a favour and can’t go too far wrong!

 

 

One of the headlines today was about pensioners being better off than many working families. It’s a topic that interests to me, particularly in relation to the millennial generation and parenting practices.

I believe the difference in prosperity between the baby boomers and the rest of us has had a major impact on the way we parent as families.

The basic issue with pensioners earning more than working families comes down to the quality of pensions. While the government has made great efforts to introduce workplace pensions for all, for many people this has come too late. Others have started to save the pensions as early as possible but there simply aren’t the quality of rates available to people today as in previous generations. Coming out of the post-war years, the baby boomers were subject to increased social investment, increased prosperity, increased housebuilding, all of which is distinctly absent from today’s society.

The good times rolled and the country reaped the benefits for many years.

Somewhere along the way people started to overspend and compensate with credit. The reliance on buying houses meant the mortgage market continued to be propped up with unsustainable deals… until the bubble burst in 2008, and we all know about that because we are still paying for it today.

Pensioners today have two distinct advantages over the current generation of working families. Firstly, pensions are better than ever for them, particularly private pensions that pay very good rates of return. These simply aren’t available to working families today. Secondly, mortgages and house prices were a lot more manageable for pensioners and many of them now own their own homes outright, including all the equity that comes with them. Anyone attempting to buy a house in today’s market will know of the huge deposit required in order to fund the house and get on the property ladder.

Amid all this, we have to look for the silver lining.

Families of today may not have gold-plated pensions or huge houses with no mortgage, but it has forced us to prioritise and evaluate what is important in our lives. I look around on social media I see hundreds of engaged parents, who are actively involved in their children’s education and upbringing. The newest generation of parents, the millennials born from the 1980s onwards, are leading the charge in involved parenting.

Families today are focusing on spending time with family, on quality rather than quantity.

Sure, it’s nice to have a big house and course there are ways to get one. But in a country where the average salary is £27,600 and houses are on average £269,000, it’s simply not possible to have it all.

Rather than working and paying into pensions that pay almost no return, or saving with no interest rates, families are choosing to focus on what is most important. Therefore, men, who traditionally would go out to work all day and throughout the week, are now thinking seriously about how it is worth it. Instead of making efforts to please companies and employers, many men and women are choosing to work for themselves, with all the freedom that comes with it. Those who work for companies are starting to request more flexibility in their working lives; there’s now flexible policies of leave, the beginnings of equal parental leave pay for men and women, and the notion of being away from work is a lot more fluid these days.

Of course we want to have it all!

Behind the headlines pensioners have worked for many years often missing out on time with their children, and now regretting it. While many working families today may be worse off than pensioners, if we look at it from a different angle we have more possibilities than ever. Technology has improved to such an extent that we can integrate it into our daily lives to make it better. There are so many possibilities that I think I prefer to live in today’s world. It’s a bit sad to think we are part of a generation that is going to end up poorer than our predecessors, perhaps for the first time in recent history. But it’s what we do with our lives that counts and parents of today have more options than ever.

It would be nice to think the prosperity of previous generations will return. After all, who’s going to live in all those big houses?! Even though life is a struggle for many of us we can still take joy in the little things.

 

This post has been inspired after reading the Guardian article Globalisation Once Made the World Go Around. Is it About to Grind to a Halt?

We’ve all been caught off-guard by the big political events of 2016. Brexit was a surprise at home and in the international community; a lot of those who voted to leave the EU didn’t actually see it coming. And then there’s President Trump; who knew that he would come from the back of the pack to winning the US presidential election? Any doubt about his motives were put aside after his inauguration speech and the recent ban on immigrants entering the country. He is cutting off from the world and putting America first. So where does this leave globalisation and what does it mean to how millennials will bring up their children?

The millennial parent has grown up in a world of increasing globalisation.

For those born from the 1980s onwards we have only ever known life inside the European Union. We barely remember the last days of the Cold War, but we may recollect images of the Berlin Wall coming down. This was a world of increasing technical connection, with the advent of the world wide web, instantaneous access to information and communication. I presumed this would simply continue; that I was a global citizen and the UK was a global hub where people came together and did business. I assumed this was a world that my daughter would inherit when she becomes an adult in 2030.

And then 2016 happened and we have started to witness the end of the 20th century globalisation experiment.

My daughter is four years old and she will only know a UK outside the European Union. She will spend the next four years of her life learning about and hearing from a President of the United States who preaches protectionism and division with the words “America First”. And she will see as other European countries start to challenge the system and shout “[My country] first!

How do we explain this new world to our children? More importantly, how do we prepare them for it?

Whatever our views there’s no sense debating the outcome. We simply have to move forward. With hindsight, I think the backlash against globalisation is entirely natural and we should have looked out for it. We are not solitary animals. We live in family units of 2, 3, and 4+ in our homes around the world. We choose to join with other family units through friendships, shared interests and backgrounds and through these we form communities. We are part of local regions, each with their own sense of identity. And on a wider scale we live in societies with elected governments. Those governments then represent us as whole and make decisions on our behalf.

The problems come when our sense of belonging, so important to the family unit, is removed and the decisions and powers that govern us become centralised.

People have seen this form of swift globalisation and seen their choices and powers eroded. Take the wonky banana story as an example. I think the world is being pushed together too fast and people are beginning to revolt against it. It’s not that people want to be apart from the rest of the world, but their core sense of identity has been degraded. People want to be connected to others but they’re not ready to be thrust together quite so soon; we still have too many differences.

So how do we prepare our children for the years ahead?

The UK is out of the EU and our country has to renegotiate its relationships not just with our European neighbours but also with other countries around the world. It may take many years and the children of millennial parents may even be adults by the time it’s sorted. But it may never be truly sorted. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing; it will force us to look at the world afresh and decide how we want to engage with others. In order to help our children grow into this new world, we must be increasingly engaged with one another. We should make an effort to show them the world from another point of view. This doesn’t mean simply googling information on other cultures and interests, rather we must make an effort to meet people from all different backgrounds. We should teach them the importance of working with others and cooperating. We should tell them to be proud of who they are, to have a sense of identity and belonging, and an obligation to live their values. We hear a lot about the importance of patriotism from people like Trump. Pride in your country is a good thing as long as it’s not at the denigration of others. Our children should have pride in the good that their country does in the world, not just in how powerful their country is.

The first attempt at globalisation in the 20th century was a good start but it hasn’t quite worked out yet.

Maybe it was forced on people too soon. The millennial parent has grown up in a semi-globalised world but now we’re back to the drawing board. If we bring up our children to be global citizens, they will hopefully make positive decisions when they are in charge. So let’s look forward, not back. And outwards, not in.

 


New Year’s Day came and went. I was a grumpy old man/exhausted parent and simply stayed in to relax. I decided not to do any particular resolutions in my day-to-day life but I’ve come up with three goals for the Millennial Dad blog and wanted to share them with you. 
1. Define my vision.

Have you ever watched the famous Simon Sinek TED talk video on leadership? If not, leave this blog now and search for it (but please come back later). In the video, he talks about how truly innovative companies inspire people to become involved. He says “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. I didn’t create this blog solely to capture my daily thoughts; I’m not that interesting and can’t write as well as many pro bloggers. But I did start the Millennial Dad blog because I believe there’s a new generation of fathers who are redefining parenting. I want to write about this and I want to help them. So one of my first goals for 2017 is to define the vision for what I want to achieve. If I can get that right I may just start making sense to people like you, who are kindly reading my blog!

2. Publish my book. 

The idea for this blog started with me sketching out the plan for a book on what the Millennial Dad is and tips for modern fatherhood. So far I’ve written a short book and I keep adding to it. I want to craft and edit it to perfection but I know the best thing to do is to just get it out into the world and refine as I go along. After all, I want to start a conversation not write a masterpiece. So goal number 2 is to get the book done!

3. Establish my web presence. 

This is a tough one and something I’ve been struggling with. I’ve started to follow lots of fantastic parent bloggers with wonderful websites, Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and Instagram. It’s all a bit overwhelming. For example, if I have a photo to share, do I put it on Twitter or Instagram? Should I use Hootsuite to post to many places at once or is this cheating? One thing I’ve learned from reading many brilliant blog posts is that content is king (or queen) so I’m practising my blog-writing skills and trying to learn as I go. By the end of 2017 I want to have an established web presence. That doesn’t necessarily means lots of followers, but I want to have something that shows who I am and what I’m trying to achieve. 

So there we have it. I’ve written it down now and put it out there. If you happen across this post over the course of the year, please do help me out by emailing phil@millennialdad.co and asking “how are the goals going?” There’s nothing like a bit of accountability to spur us on. 

Thanks, Phil.