By Jamie Day | Published on 15 March 2019
Growing up, I always saw my dad (and other dads to be fair) as the one who went to work during the week, and then upon the weekend starting, he’d pack up the hatchback with golf clubs and disappear until sunset. Clichéd I know, but that’s how it was back then. Mothers were at home and more often than not, dads would only be seen for a limited time each week.
Nowadays, thankfully things have changed. There’s obviously been a shift in the workplace - many more mums return to work and aren’t confined to a life of nappies and school runs like they have been traditionally - but because of modern working methods being deployed by companies, more dads are now able to spend more time at home, and thus spend more time with their children.
Alongside the new and improved ways of working, I also think the increasing number of dads talking about working more flexibly for family life on social media has played a big part in this slow but evident generational change. It doesn’t take too much scrolling on Instagram before you discover a dad, who might be a stay-at-home, work-from-home or just throwing himself into his cherished weekend, laden with nappy bags, muslins and scooters having the time of his life with his kids. These public displays of modern fatherhood are so widespread now, that the dated stereotypes I mentioned are thankfully on the wane. Dads see their peers enjoying themselves, covered in glitter, or half way up a tree and want a piece of the action.
Despite advancements in how we see dads, one stereotype I’ve noticed that still exists is that if these hands-on dads seek any ‘me time,’ they can then be tarnished with the dated brush from years past, suggesting they’ve deserted their family. This irks me and is a little unfair. Sure, us men have been notoriously bad in the past, but nowadays, with dads taking a lot more responsibility, it’s important for men, as much as it is for women, to have an opportunity once in a while to reset and relax ahead of throwing themselves back into family life.
As a dad whose life revolves around my kids’ lives, I really believe this. So, when I was offered the opportunity to travel to Brighton to see a group of dads I’ve met through Instagram for a stag do, I jumped at the chance with no hesitation. The dads in the group were 30-40, so as far as stag celebrations go, I knew in advance it was always going to be a tame version of #OutOut, but for me the focus was not to involve myself in any stag do pranks, but to enjoy the other dads’ company and unwind.
I travelled to Brighton from Clapham on a Southern Rail train as part of my Line Resident role. The journey gave me an opportunity to slow down after a busy week with the kids and focus on something other than LEGO Batman’s latest shenanigans, transforming me from hands-on stay-at-home dad, to well, just me. Just Jamie. For the first time in weeks, I didn’t have to think about what I was going to cook for the kids’ supper or spend my time wiping snotty noses or asking if the kids had washed their hands after going to the loo. The journey was bliss. It gave me an opportunity to listen to a podcast, do a little writing, catch up on some admin, enjoy the countryside views and even have a little snooze.
I rolled into Brighton station after my train journey well rested and excited for the day ahead. We all met in the North Laines, and quickly it became evident just how much this bunch of dads have transformed from their former selves. Sure, drinks were drunk and tales from the past were often rude, but conversations about family life and our kids were common. Indeed, the day was broken up by a lot of the dads having FaceTime calls with the kids back home, and I even bought my two a little gift each from one of the nearby shops – hardly the raucous activities often associated with stag dos.
And whilst the antics might not be as memorable as those I may have experienced in the past, what will live long in the memory is just how nice it was to witness and be part of such a transformed group of men. Hopefully dads such as us, plus the many, many more out there who are loving their role as a father are helping the dated stereotypes of generations past disappear forever, and if some time away from the family occurs, it doesn’t have to mean fatherhood has reverted back in time. Indeed, if this transformation in dads and how dads are perceived continues, such dated views can be resigned to history for good.
That’s three fab days out now as part of my role as a Southern Rail Line Resident. Using my line residency and being part of the project has offered me some fantastic opportunities to really connect and explore individual transformations, and in the last case, our collective group transformations as modern dads. It’s been a privilege so far and I can’t wait for the next opportunity.