Fatherhood Reimagined: John Bradley

Back in February, John Bradley had a plan for himself, and for his family. But he hadn’t planned on COVID-19 coming along.

John had just quit his job as a director of brand for a technology startup, and was going to take some time off before looking for other opportunities. To celebrate and kick off the transition,  he and his wife Missy—our Caliper Cofounder and Brand Director—took off on a week-long vacation with their 5-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. “By the time we came back,” he recalls, “society had completely changed.”

During their time away, the coronavirus had gone from a worry to a pandemic, and the country was entering lockdown. Suddenly, the daily resources and routines they’d worked out to balance parenting, child care, and their own workloads disappeared. No more day care. Kindergarten was now shifting to homeschooling, and after-school activities were halted. And now Missy had to work full-time from home.

“So, we had to shift into full-time ‘Daddy Day Care,’” John explains. He mostly put aside his job-hunting legwork, while Missy took over the home office, pitching in to help with the kids, and getting dinner on the table. But for the most part, John was in charge of the day-to-day operations of Bradley Family, Inc.

Naturally, there was lots of chaos at first.  “I have such an appreciation for the hard work day care workers do,” John says. “They should be making $5 million.”

“I have such an appreciation of the hard work day care workers do. They should be making $5 million.”

But gradually, daily routines emerged: A little time for “Sesame Street,” which both kids love (“screentime guidelines have gone out the window,” he admits). There’s math and reading work with his son, and lots of reading to his daughter, plus plenty of backyard play, nature walks, and chalk art.

“Of course there are lots of times when both kids are crying and both need 100 percent of my attention, and the best I can give them is 50 percent,” he laughs. “Sometimes I just hand Missy a child and rock the other one back and forth for a while.”

So John makes sure to plan time for his own self-care, too. In the evenings, he’ll sprinkle some Caliper CBD into some water or tea, to help him relax and unwind from his super-active days. “It just helps me ease into the evening.”

“Sprinkling a little Caliper CBD in some water or tea just helps me ease into the evening.”

He also takes time to reflect on his blessings. “I’m getting more time with my kids, and it’s more quality time; it’s not just that ’how was your day?’ check-in,” he explains. “I’m getting to see so much development that I wasn’t able to before.  For example, my daughter will say something  I would have thought before was babble, but now I can see her making connections with sounds.”

He’s also having deeper conversations with his son, who’s helping him with some home improvement projects. “The other day he asked me how light works, and we ended up talking about photons and relativity,” he says. “He loves learning!”

“I’m getting more time with my kids, and it’s more quality time; it’s not just that “how was your day?” check-in.”

As John plans the next steps of his career, he’ll bring the lessons of “Daddy Day Care” with him. “I feel really lucky that I’ve had this time to be more present in my kids’ lives,” he says. No matter what the future brings, he adds, “I’m going to try to preserve that as much as possible.”

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