The Coffee Chat (#29)
My conversation with Gareth K Thomas - Founder at ClarifiedCo, Mentor at Big Ideas Wales and a single Foster Dad to 3 children (aged 9, 12, and 15)!
Welcome to the new subscribers who have joined us since the last post. Today this email is going out to 816 amazing individuals!
If you’re reading this but haven’t subscribed, you may want to consider doing that. This will ensure future posts land straight in your inbox (and it is free!!)
Hi there 👋🏽
As a parent I think a lot about how my actions and words could impact my child.
What I have come to realize is that all parents “damage” their kids in one way or the other. We are eventually all a product of our childhood. The extent to which we are damaged though is dependent on our parents.
A child is like a glass and a parent is the hand that holds it.
You cannot escape from leaving a mark.
Some parents will leave a gentle imprint on the glass, that over time will get erased. However others may end up cracking and breaking it, damage it beyond repair.
Oh ya also, welcome to 2020..too! Stay safe and healthy. This variant is everywhere
☕ Now, on to today’s coffee chat…
Meet Gareth K Thomas
I met Gareth through Twitter and was fascinated by his story.
Gareth is an entrepreneur who started his first business when he was 14. At age 21 he started an online travel business which eventually became the largest holiday apartment agency in Scotland.
He left the business he built over 10 years to become a foster carer!
Being a parent is hard and being a single parent is infinitely harder. I was intrigued by what led Gareth to become a single dad …not just once but thrice!
Below is my conversation with Gareth …
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I'm Gareth, a single Foster Dad to 3 children (aged 9, 12, and 15).
They came to live with me almost five years ago. Life at home is... busy. As well as getting the kids from one activity to the next, I also run a digital strategy company that focusses on education and wellbeing for young people. Alongside that, I run a newsletter called Sometimes Weekly, and share my thinking on Twitter
Would love to learn more about how you made this decision to become a foster dad. What were some of the conversations you had? What were the big challenges/roadblocks you faced?
Back in 2012, like many people in the UK, I spent far too much time watching the London Olympics. Shortly after it ended (and missing my fix of never-ending sport) I was listening to a radio show on the role volunteers played in making it all a success. They talked about how they were desperate for volunteers, in particular to work with children. I went online, filled out an application, and was volunteering with kids in my local area soon after. I quickly realized I had a passion for working with children, and it eventually led to me becoming a foster parent.
For you what was the hardest part of becoming a new parent? You mention "Working and being a parent is almost still a taboo subject. We're all trying to lead these double lives, and it's ridiculous." - could you elaborate on this, please?
I ran a business for 10 years prior to the kids arriving. I thought I was a productivity whizz. In all honesty, I believed I would manage being a parent with ease. It was all just a case of being organized. Whilst that's partly true, I had massively underestimated how much time and energy it takes to be a parent (especially to be a single parent, and to support children who have experienced trauma).
One positive that came out of the pandemic is that it feels like we all agreed it's OK for some people to have children. They don't always need to be hidden away, and kept separate from the work we do as adults. I'm fascinated by what this could mean for our future ways of working and learning.
After becoming a parent did you adopt any new beliefs, behaviours, or habits that have most improved your life?
I'm obsessed with human behaviour, as it covers both my consulting work (using behaviour design to make things better) and supporting the children (understanding trauma). Habit formation is an area I'm particularly interested in. And so a huge amount of my life is automated through a list of well-researched habits and routines (which many people find overwhelming, but I find to be essential).
You are a digital strategy consultant, you blog regularly, write a newsletter, and are involved with Big Ideas Wales where you help children & young adults think about starting and growing a business. You do all this while also being a dad to 3 kids. The biggest challenge that working parents with young kids have is limited time for themselves. How have you managed this? How do you manage your energy? What choices have you made to enable you to do all this while being a parent to these children?
Discipline = freedom. Our life is tightly scheduled, from what we do with our time, to what meals we're eating, and beyond. I get up early, and am in bed by 9pm most nights. That's the 'discipline'. And the whole reason we do it is so that we can go for walks, watch movies together, enjoy the kids playing sports... that's the 'freedom'.
To make all that happen, I think a lot about my habits/routines, use the time block planning system, and implement other useful ways of working (such as having notifications off on my phone, and spending as little time as possible in my inbox).
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investment you have made after becoming a parent?
This is an easy one... we have two incredible women who come to our house three times a fortnight. They do everything from changing bed linen, to hoovering, to organizing, to ironing... anything that helps us out. It's very practical help, but the biggest gain for me is emotional. Accepting that I don't have to do it all is very powerful.
What advice would you give others who are on the cusp of becoming parents? What advice should they ignore?
I would say ignore most parenting advice. Instead, look into therapeutic parenting. It changed our lives.
What’s the best thing you have watched recently?
Ace Ventura. I hadn't seen it for a long time, and my boys had never seen it. Watching it with them was a real treat.
What’s the best thing you have read recently?
What Happened to You? by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry. I read a lot of books on the brain and trauma. This is the best I've read.
What’s the best thing you have listened to recently?
Californian Soil by London Grammar. Just beautiful.
Reading wise 2021 was a great year for me. Click on the tweet below to get my top 10 books from last year
I would love to hear from you, feedback is always welcome!
And if you happen to know an inspiring working parent who should be featured in a future edition (or if you yourself are one) - please do get in touch
P.S. If this email landed in your Promotions tab in Gmail, please take a second and drag it to your Primary tab. It makes a big difference to the Google inbox gods, plus you’ll never miss a post!