Diary of the Dad was created in 2010 by Tom Briggs to document his children Xander, Dylan, and toddler Amelie as they grow up and learn new things. Diary of the Dad covers the challenges that you can face during parenthood, technology and product reviews, and keeps his readers up-to-date with family outings. In this spotlight Tom, who features on our top ten daddy blog ranking chats to us about how Diary of the Dead went from being a hobby to a full-time job, how he balances his blogging career with fatherhood and why dads are still viewed as second-class parents.
Tell us about your blog? I started writing Diary of the Dad a couple of months after my oldest child was born in 2010. Since then, it has gone from my new hobby to my full-time job. Two years ago, I quit my old job to make a living out of blogging and haven’t looked back.
What prompted you to document your life as a father in a blog? I have a background in journalism and communications, so it’s in my nature to want to write about being a parent – having kids is the best thing I’ve done and I guess I wanted to share that with others. I was also interested in writing a book about being a dad so it seemed a good platform for seeing whether people enjoyed reading my content.
How do you help your readers in their journey as a parent? To be honest, I just write about my own experiences and I think that people relate to them. A lot of the search traffic I get is from parents Googling strange things their kids have done or concerns about them not achieving milestones like walking and talking when the baby books say they should.
What is a typical day in the life of you as a dad? I work from home so have the best of both worlds. My wife is the main carer for our children, but my job allows me to spend much more time with everyone than I used to. I do the morning school run and am normally at my desk by 9am. I try to stick to standard 9-5 working hours, but take breaks to spend time with my 18-month-old daughter and also when my sons get back from school. After a little more work while they eat, it’s a matter of getting all of them to bed in the hope of getting an evening with my wife. Two out of three are quite resistant to sleep so this is often the most challenging part of the day!
How do you manage your blogging career and being a father? Working from home definitely, helps as it allows me more time. I also remember that, if it weren’t for the kids, I wouldn’t have this unusual but brilliant job so make it fit around them rather than the other way round.
How has fatherhood changed you? What did you learn about yourself after becoming a parent? I’ve become a lot more patient and also have a cooler head when things go wrong. I used to panic about the silliest of things, but having children has given me much-needed perspective about what really matters. I’ve also become a lot more politically aware. Basically, fatherhood has turned me into a proper grown up!
How do you like to work with PRs? And how can they improve their blogger outreach? As I can get quite busy at times – especially in the approach to Father’s Day – I love approaches that set out a clear brief from the off. Those who have taken a few minutes to check whether I’m suitable for their campaigns also get two thumbs up from me. I try to answer every email I get so it can sometimes be frustrating when they have wasted both their time and mine.
What are the main challenges that fathers face? Dads are still viewed as second-class parents in some circles and it’s immensely frustrating that this is the case in the 21st century. Attitudes are beginning to change for the better, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. There’s also the fact that paternity leave is so short and shared parental leave isn’t available for everyone. This puts fathers at an immediate disadvantage as the early days are so important.
What advice would you give to a new dad or dad-to-be? My advice would be to do your research well in advance but also be prepared to fly by the seat of your pants! Babies don’t care about what the books about them say and will quite often surprise you. I would also add that it’s vital to spend as much time as possible with your kids. I know everyone says this, but time really does fly by.
What’s your secret tool; what is it that helps you to cope when the going gets tough? I just remember how bad things were before I became my own boss. I was miserable in my old job and my health and sleep were beginning to suffer as a result. Things can get stressful still, but taking a moment to think about how lucky I am to have gone from a terrible job to the perfect one – with the money-can’t-buy perk of increased family time – always gets me back on track. I also regularly work with four other dad bloggers on group campaigns so we help each other out.