John Adams is author of dadbloguk.com which won Best UK Dad Blog in the 2016 Vuelio Blog Awards and recently took Gold in the Blog category of the Surrey Digital Awards.
John’s wife Gill works full-time whilst he’s a Stay At Home Dad to his two daughters, Helen, 8 and Izzy, 4, running the household and the bulk of the childcare juggling parental duties with life as a #dadboss blogger, writer and YouTuber.
John gets up at 5am, seven days a week so he can write, take photos, shoot video and test products. He admits that, ‘It’s very demanding balancing family life with this form of self-employment but I’ve always wanted to run my own company so I wouldn’t want it any other way’.
John is a good friend of mine and it’s a total pleasure to share his brilliance in this month’s instalment of #Dadboss, a feature which champions men who have been inspired to create careers from their experience as dads.
What was your background before starting your blog, and were you surprised that parenthood led to a different career path?
I was originally a journalist. While at Journalism School, I had a visionary lecturer. He was very cavalier this guy and quite a character but someone you had to take seriously.
In one lecture, he said: “The internet is going to open up all sorts of opportunities for you as journalists.”
You have to bear in mind this was the late 1990s. Dial-up Internet was the norm and YouTube didn’t even exist. Even so, his words resonated with me. I knew I had to cut my teeth as a print journalist, but decided at that moment to switch over to the online world at the earliest opportunity. That’s exactly what I did getting a job as an online reporter for a travel publication a couple of years later.
Even so, I turned my back on journalism and went into PR before becoming a dad. Our eldest daughter originally went into nursery five days a week, 8am-4pm. My wife and I weren’t happy with this and as I wasn’t happy in my job, I proposed jumping ship to become her main carer.
That’s exactly what we did. For me it was eye-opening because up until that point I had lived the life of a privileged white male. I then found myself dealing with the early years systems. They can be decidedly dad-unfriendly and the casual, latent sexism I faced as a man holding the babies inspired me to launch Dadbloguk.com.
The blog has grown and I run it as a business. Although I have diversified my activities, promoting positive fatherhood and the positive elements of masculinity remain at the core of what I do.
Am I surprised that fatherhood and family life led me down this route? Every day I wake up and think: “How did this happen and how did I get here?”
The honest answer to that is two-fold. One: a lot of very, very hard work. Two: I have to thank Mrs Adams. While occasionally driven to distraction by my blogging activities, she has been incredibly supportive.
How has fatherhood made you more creative?
Fatherhood has made me creative because I constantly have to find new ways to entertain my children. My kids also introduce me to new toys, language, ways of thinking and so on. It not only keeps me creative, but forces me to think youthfully.
I think also when you have a child at school, you are forever thinking of creative ways to make learning fun. You want your kids to learn and the way to do that is to make it appealing and relevant to them.
One thing springs to mind and that’s teaching my kids French (there’s a family connection). My youngest loves to sing and so we sing French songs and play French language CDs. I’ve heard her pick up more language that way than any other method.
How do you juggle parenthood with deadlines day to day?
The honest answer to that question? Getting up stupidly early and drinking exceedingly strong coffee (but not after midday!).
That said, the support of Mrs Adams and my kids is essential. I have, however, come to a point where I have realised I simply can’t do everything. I am, as many of the larger bloggers already do, exploring the possibility of taking on a virtual or digital assistant to help with admin.
I am also be very disciplined. As and when I’m with the kids, that mobile telephone may very well be turned off or put out of reach.
How do you overcome self-doubt as a creative?
Self-doubt does creep up from time to time. I deal with it in what may seem like a very counter-intuitive way.
Pretty much every mistake I have ever made remains on my blog or in my videos. I have removed one or two that have left me feeling very uncomfortable, but by and large I purposefully keep them in place.
My logic is thus: I’ve made mistakes and had moments of doubt in the past. I’ve overcome them and here’s the evidence.
It is an issue with doing something as public as blogging. Your mistakes are public. It is simply something you have to accept.
What are your work goals moving forward?
It’s no secret my youngest daughter starts school in September. This will give me more time to focus on my blogging business.
I have various ideas, most of which I need to keep under wraps for now. You can, however, expect to see me making considerably more videos and working in collaboration with others.
Any words of wisdom for dads-to-be?
There are two pieces of advice I always like to pass on to new fathers. Firstly, you are going to be on a steep learning curve. Read the books, speak to your other half, speak to other parents, speak to medical professionals and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I am a firm believer that parenting is learned and not instinctual. Do not be put off simply because you make mistakes or don’t know how to do things. You will learn and you should give yourself space and time to develop your parenting skills.
Secondly, do not tolerate being told that raising children is women’s work. Sadly these attitudes do still exist, especially when you have very young children. Your role is not to support your partner: it is to be an integral part of the family and you may, from time to time, have to express that opinion with passion!
Finally, what advice would you give fellow dadbosses?
The advice I’d give to fellow dadbosses: look after yourself. Whether you are a mum or a dad, balancing work and family life is tricky. Don’t push it too far. You must look after your health.