21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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Good Dad or Good Employee. Pick One.

May 15th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

You Need to Buy Low and Sell High, Stanley!

Photo: foundphotoslj

What does it mean to be a father today? Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said that fathers are “a biological necessity but a social accident.” That might have been true for generations past, but the fellow dads I’ve met in person or in the blogosphere are nurturing, caring, and as involved as ever. These men really do everything except breastfeed.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be a 21st Century Dad. I take pride in being there for my daughter. I have been to every doctor visit with her so far. I play with her every day. I change her diapers. I feed her (now that she’s been eating solids) and clean up too.

Much of this “nouveau dad” talk is centered around babies and toddlers. There’s a teenager living here too. Teens may want more autonomy from their parents, but when he needs a dad, he’s got one.

Sometimes I feel like working a job gets in the way of being a good dad. Some would argue that working at that job is a big part of being a good dad. The people in charge are from the generation where fathers were breadwinners then came home and planted themselves in front of the TV while mom cooked dinner. How many of them did the feeding, clothing, bathing, and diapering?

Flex time, telecommuting, and other concessions are being made, but that’s only anecdotal knowledge to me. Tales of men being treated poorly in the workplace abound. I know two men who were recently fired because they had the nerve to ask for paternity leave. They were granted that leave with smiles and congratulatory remarks. To add insult to injury, poor job performance was cited as the reason for their dismissal upon their return to work.

I make it my business to see what “21st Century Dad” turns up in the search engines. I found this great article about dads and their blogs. The excerpt below sums everything up perfectly:

In 2006, dads are feeling pressure from both sides. At home, many dads carry heavier parenting loads; they face their own traditional expectations, while at work they face baby boomer bosses who believe the job comes first, according to Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.”

The flexibility I need isn’t there in a 9-5 job. What would happen if I told my boss, “Can I take the afternoon off so I can take my daughter to the pediatrician?” I’m sure the boss won’t like it. Being a dad today is harder than ever.

Relief from the 60, 55, 50, 45, 40 hour a week 9-5 job is out there in non-traditional arrangements. Freelancing is frowned upon, but has plenty of advantages. When the baby is sleeping, a lot of work can be done. Work-at-home dads with older children can get the bulk of their job done before the kids come home from school.

You can’t change the world overnight, and you can’t do it by yourself. I believe in changing the world one child at a time. We teach them values. We provide them with nurturing environments in which to grow up. We teach them how to become better people. They, in turn, positively influence all the people they encounter. The best way to do this is with both parents hands-on. When you have a generation of fathers doing this, the possibilities are endless.

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Is Working a Second Job Right For You?

April 3rd, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad
money
Photo: Valentin Mosichev, iStockphoto.com

Many people have worked two jobs to help make ends meet. Mike at From Mike.com contemplated it for a while. My buddy Joe currently works two jobs. It’s a popular ingredient in many triumph over adversity stories. Sometimes it’s a necessity, but let’s explore possible alternatives.

Let’s talk about Joe first. He has a beautiful baby girl that he doesn’t get to see as often as he should. He works two jobs and has an insane commute to both of them. I admire his fortitude, but it must put a big strain on him and his family. His wife works full time and cares for their toddler too.

Joe works about 20 hours a week at his 2nd job, which is about 50 miles from his home. His main job is about 30 miles away. That’s a lot of time in the car each day.

He justifies it by saying it’s another $12,000 a year. Okay, you’ve got me there Joe. I’d love to have $1000 more each month, but at what cost?

Alternatives

When I studied computer programming, I had one teacher that would never give a grade of 100% on an assignment if it was a computer program. He reasoned that you can always write the program better. I’ve always believed that all processes are subject to improvement. Income generation is definitely worthy of putting under this microscope. I don’t want Joe’s life, and Joe probably doesn’t want it either.

Spend Less Money – Frugal Dad takes this approach. Spend less and you’ll have more money. His blog serves up real advice that really works toward that end. Cut out unnecessary spending, and hundreds of dollars appear in your bank account every month! The much vilified daily latte is only the beginning. You can then use that money to pay down your credit card debt you racked up trying to keep up with consumerism!

Look for Work-at-Home Opportunities – Guys like Bob at Operation Bob chronicle such money making opportunities for the work-at-home-parent. If you’re already blogging, consider monetizing it. When you enter the blogosphere, there are literally hundreds of “make money online” offers out there. I’m skeptical of most, but Bob continues to expose the ones that are worthwhile.

Build Multiple Small Streams of IncomeSteve Pavlina advocates this in his article and podcast, 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job. One thing he talks about is cultivating multiple streams of income. If one dries up, it’s not a big deal. You can shift your energy to another one and make up the slack. If you get fired from your job, you’re screwed (at least temporarily). Your one and only source of income is suddenly shut off.

Leverage One Of Your Hobbies – I already mentioned blogging. You can participate in Google AdSense and hope to convert clicks. Do you enjoy photography and own a DSLR? Become a contributing photographer on one or more stock photography sites.

Creating My Multiple Streams

I just recently started a full-time job. A large chunk of my time is traded away for money. I’m still adjusting to this schedule and slowly implementing some time management tactics. Last night, it was already 10pm before I sat down at the computer.

As an avid photographer, I am exploring the stock photography route. I made a half-hearted attempt last year, but it’s time to revisit and beef up the portfolio. I also need to start marketing myself as a freelance photographer too.

This blog is picking up momentum, despite my abbreviated posting schedule. I employ contextual advertising, affiliate promotions, and I ask for donations. Turning in my 2-week’s notice is just a matter of building traffic now.

Why am I doing this? The extra money would really help out. 🙂 A part time job with set hours will take me away from my family longer than I need to be. It’s a lot of time to trade away for only a few precious dollars. It costs money to go to work. Joe spends a good portion of his earnings on gas. There is little to no potential for that job to be intellectually stimulating.

The initiatives I have in place are scalable, can eventually replace and exceed my job income, and can be done on my own time. My chosen activities are things I enjoy too. It’s bad enough to be working for someone else for 40 hours a week. A part time job would still pay more than my current efforts, but my earnings here are only a matter of devoting some more time and waiting for seeds to sprout.

Slacker Dad

March 27th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

 No, I’m not really a slacker. I am still finding my way through this new routine and schedule. It’s been a little rough. I’m out the door at 6:30 am on days I take the bus.

After pondering my circumstances for about 8 nanoseconds, I determined that I have a strong preference for the work-at-home-dad lifestyle. Right now, the job provides a much better paycheck than being a WAHD.

This is the first time I’ve ever had anything resembling an exit strategy when starting a new job. The irony is, my goal is to end up back where I was before I found this job, except with more money.

I continue to harbor delusions of grandeur. Maybe I can pull this off. I’m aiming to post 3 times a week. And when I say 3 times a week, I want it to be quality content, not these “having a 9-5 job takes time away from blogging” posts.

Dad’s New Job – Update

March 18th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

I get up at seven, yeah
And I go to work at nine
I got no time for livin’
Yes, I’m workin’ all the time
It seems to me
I could live my life
A lot better than I think I am
I guess that’s why they call me
They call me the working man

-Rush “Working Man”

I have received an overwhelming show of support in my new venture as a 9-5 dad (actually an 8-5 dad). Thank you all!
The “50-50-50 Plan” has caused a stir. I will definitely be fleshing that concept out more and writing about it soon. In theory, it’s brilliant. In practice, one of the “50’s” has expanded. Unfortunately, it’s not the 50 I want to see expand.

I’ve elected to use public transit for my commute. There are many great reasons to do so. Frugal Dad is tossing around the idea of riding his bike to work to save money and lose weight. The buses here have bike racks, so I do a combination of both. 12 miles each way is a little ambitious in my current state of fitness.
Unlike the hero in the tale penned by a trio of Canadian rockers, I don’t get up at 7. It’s more like 5:15. The bus comes at 6:40. Hence, the expansion of one of the “50’s.” Fortunately, that time is spent catching up with my favorite bloggers, reading a good old fashioned book, or taking a cat nap. Try those activities while driving!

I haven’t ruled out driving to work a couple days a week. I win back some time, but I can’t double dip.

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Dad Gets a Job

March 12th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

The job search has ended. I interviewed for a graphic design position two weeks ago and I finally got the call. I am starting today.

One could see this as an admission of defeat, but I don’t. Work-at-home dad is the best job in the world. Why would I want to leave that? This experience will inspire me to write with more empathy for dads who have to go to the office. Time away from my desk devoted to infant potty training sure beats banal water-cooler chit-chat with co-workers. You take the good with the less-than-optimal. That’s life. This is an opportunity to increase my breadth and credibility as a daddy blogger.

I trade in a totally free-form schedule for one with more structure and less time. The blog will live on, and other ventures will continue to germinate. With this in mind, I started solidifying a time management strategy.

I came up with the “50-50-50” plan. I break up my week into 50 hour chunks – 50 for sleeping, 50 for the job and commute, and 50 for everything else. Out of 168 hours in a week, that leaves me 18 hours of “flex” in my schedule. That’s 2.57 hours each day or a little over 10% margin for error. I can use that time to sleep more, work more, and address the inevitable snafus that occur in life (after 7 months, I finally got peed on my by my little baby on Monday).

Double-dipping is an effective time management strategy. It’s different from multi-tasking. Multitasking is a myth anyway. Since I will be using public transit for my commute, I have the ability to read books or RSS feeds on my iPod. I have yet to try using my laptop on the bus. A 17″ MacBook Pro might be too cumbersome to be effective.

Fortunately, this job situation appears to be a good fit. I’m looking forward to this new opportunity.