Rethinking Work and Parenting in a Post-COVID World
I worked in finance for over a decade. Then COVID hit, and everything changed.
Now I’m a stay-at-home-dad and the founder of a finance business I run remotely from home.
How did I get here, what have I learned, and could this life be for you? Read on, and I’ll explain!
And you are...?
I'm Chris, husband to pediatric nurse, Katie, and father of two boys. Today I'm mostly a stay-at-home dad, or "SAHD," but it wasn't always this way.
Before COVID, I worked traditional jobs in finance like consulting, corporate finance, and private equity. These jobs are considered prestigious by many, but I found it challenging to balance the demands of work and family. All too often, I’d get an email on Sunday night asking me to be on a plane Monday morning, which frequently threw our schedule into a tailspin.
At the end of 2019, everything changed. The company I was working for was going through hardship, and I resigned right before Christmas. No plan. No leads. No nothing. I just said, "I'm out," and that was that.
I went home that night and was just like, wow. I'm completely free. It was liberating but strange at the same time. After all, I’d been working 8+ hour days for over a decade, and suddenly I had NOTHING to do.
Instead of getting right back to the grind of job searching, I decided to just check out for the holidays, take a mental break, and be present with my family. Interviewing could wait until next year, right?
Of course, you know what comes next. COVID headlines started to emerge in January and February, and then the whole world shut down in March.
All of my job searching plans came to a screeching halt — the hiring markets literally disappeared overnight. No one knew anything, and of course, no one was hiring.
I mentioned my wife is a pediatric nurse — it was the exact opposite for her. They needed everyone on deck to triage what was going on, track patient and staff symptoms, manage call centers, and anything else you can think of during a "we don't know wtf is going on" pandemic.
As a result, she ended up going back to work full-time after being part-time for over two years.
Our long-term plan was for her to mostly be at home with the boys and for me to work full-time, HOPEFULLY at a new job that provided some semblance of work-life balance. Well, you know how the rest of this story goes.
Our precious plan!!! That's life, though. We effectively had a complete role reversal over a single week in April. So what came next?
The days were different now. My wife was being asked to work extra shifts all the time (and we needed the money!), so I was home with the boys.
My day was no longer filled with conference calls and meetings. Now it was dirty diapers, planning daily activities, tantrums, and navigating brawls over two identical red balls.
I quickly learned that being a full-time parent is exhausting, but honestly, I loved it. Instead of answering emails all day, I took walks, talked to the boys about life, and played basketball in our living room.
I felt free and guilty all at the same time. I loved the lack of structure but felt the weight of generating income.
So I began brainstorming ways to balance it all out. I decided to manage childcare during the day and do some business prospecting in the early mornings, late nights, and during naps.
Slowly but surely, I was able to stitch together a small, remote finance business. When things picked up, I was fortunate enough to find babysitters that would watch the boys for a few morning hours, and I would take over around lunch.
I felt proud of myself — was I really an "entrepreneur" like I'd always rambled about over beers? But, what about the boys? I loved being SAHD too (~dad joke 😎~) and my eyes were now open to the joys of just being home with my kids.
Could I really make it all work?
Balancing Work and Parenting
Instead of forcing myself to choose between work and parenting, I just said, screw it, I'm doing both. It’s official. I’m a “Dadpreneur.”
Amidst all the tragedy that the world experienced during COVID, I was one of the lucky ones — I'd been given a new appreciation of my time as a dad and, frankly, my time in general. I wasn't about to let go of that feeling… ever.
Working from home (and for myself) gave me a ton of flexibility that a traditional job just didn't offer. There was no commute, no dress code, no in-person meetings, and no travel.
Sure, I had Zoom meetings with my clients, but it was on MY time. Suddenly I was empowered to just say "no" if something didn't work for my schedule. I would only work when there was actually work to be done, and I could spend the rest of the time with my kids.
Did I get crushed some days? Absolutely. Balancing two or three projects simultaneously, PLUS being a full-time dad, could be really stressful.
Did my kids start screaming or crying right in the middle of a Zoom call? For sure. It was more acceptable in the early COVID days, but that lenience has faded as we amorphously drift into this "new normal."
Will it continue to happen so long as I put my kids first? Yep. But it certainly doesn’t affect the quality of my work. I think this is something we’re all going to have to get used to as the workforce evolves in a post-COVID world. And it’s for the better. I can be a great Dad and be great at my job. I’m not going to sacrifice one for the other anymore.
It’s anything but easy, but it’s been worth it. My primary motivator is being with my family.
I wake up at 5am every day to get my work done to be mentally present when I’m with the boys (I’m not "with them" if I’m constantly checking emails on my phone).
On days Mom is home, I try to clear my schedule so we can have "family days," something I never could have dreamed of in my former life.
It took a lot of trial and error, but here's how I've made it work now that the business has picked up steam:
Don't get me wrong — it's a long and tiring day (even more so if the kids have a rough night before), but for me, it's worth it. I have a taste of the "dad life," and I don't ever want to go back.
Could this life be for you? What I’ve learned...
To be clear, this ISN'T some diatribe about me hating on the 9-5 life. A traditional work environment comes with steady income, benefits, predictability, and friendships (many of which helped me build my remote business).
Yes, it often comes with some extra obligations in the form of meetings and travel, but that's the name of the game if you work as part of a team and a tradeoff you make for that stability.
Being a dadpreneur can be wonderful like I described, but it's got plenty of downsides as well:
- I'm constantly stressing about how I'll FIND new work to keep the business going (some months I'm ridiculously busy, and others it's crickets)
- It can be very isolating and lonely (come Friday, I can't WAIT to get out of the house)
- I need to make sure to truly block off QUALITY time for the kids so I can be a present caretaker while simultaneously balancing client demands (clients work full-time, remember)
- I feel guilty that my wife still works full-time (not our original plan)
- Every week (if not every day), I second-guess myself and wonder if I made the right decision
Since I can't decide for you, I'll just say this — if the entrepreneurial bug has always nagged at your side, know that it IS possible, especially in today's post-COVID remote-friendly world.
Still, it comes with hard work, elbow grease, and a delicate balancing act.
Way back in 2019, I chose to quit my job, so it effectively forced my hand when the pandemic hit, but I certainly don't recommend that strategy.
Instead, I'd say try starting something small on the side and see if it keeps you motivated (if you want it enough, you’ll find the time). If you like it, great! Keep it up. If not, no worries and nothing lost.
If the entrepreneurial life ISN'T for you, make sure you don't lose sight of WHY you do the work that you do. I think one of the most significant risks of traditional 9-5 work is that we can get lost in it and have it consume our lives, usually to the detriment of those we care about most.
After all, isn't that the whole point of "work?" We trade our time and skills to create a living for ourselves and our families. It's NOT for our families to bend over backward to make time for OUR jobs. Yes, there are always times when sacrifices are needed, but that's not the thesis.
Now that I’ve chosen my path — how can I record my journey?
My Partnership with Qeepsake
I’m gonna get morbid for a quick sec. Someday your kids are going to get older, and YOU are going to die. Sorry to just toss that out there, but it's true.
It doesn’t matter if you work in an office, are a stay-at-home parent, or an in-between Dadpreneur like me — we all can get so lost in the day-to-day shuffles that we forget that our TIME is finite.
One night I was doomscrolling Instagram and saw an ad for Qeepsake. I instantly knew it was a game-changer. In fact, I became a paid member that very night.
Qeepsake allows me to memorialize my TIME around what matters most — my kids and my family.
I used to use Tinybeans and would just shotgun off 20 pictures of my kids at swimming lessons looking like pissed-off wet cats.
Qeepsake, on the other hand, asks me thoughtful questions that I can answer each night ABOUT my kids as opposed to just me reporting on what they're doing.
It's really fun to fill out every night and ~bonus points~ the grandparents love it. They get emailed Qeepsake Recaps. They tell me they feel like they are really getting to "know" the kids even though they live somewhere else.
Someday when I look back, I don't just want to see some random picture of my kids playing with blocks, I want to remember WHO they were at that time and see how they've grown and changed.
Most importantly, I want to capture that TIME because I know I'll never get it back.
Your journey doesn't have to be like mine, and it probably won't be.
I only tell this story because I’ve seen both sides of the coin — “traditional work” and staying at home. They both have their ups and downs.
Here’s the best part — the most important lesson I’ve learned is universal regardless of the path you choose — OUR TIME AS PARENTS IS PRECIOUS AND FLEETING.
SO PLEASE — make the most of it. That, I can promise you, you’ll never regret. Be present. Be grateful. Even on days when the kids are driving you nuts, just know that tomorrow is another day, but don't wish it away.
We all have different paths, and regardless of what you choose, remember what matters most. When you do get to be with your kids, make it count. This is what they will remember most.
About Chris: I spent over a decade working in finance before becoming a (nearly) full-time dad during COVID. I was one of the lucky ones... spending more time with my children turned into one of the greatest joys of my life and clarified the silver lining for me is time with my family.
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