Here we are with another Inspire interview. This time it’s with Jamie Day who blogs over at adayinthelifedad.com. It’s great featuring more guys on this series. Jamie, his wife Georgia, their two children and two dogs live in quiet village in Berkshire (where the says the Co-Op is the hub of any local activity). Check out what Jamie has to say about stepping away from his corporate City career, how men can look after their mental health and being unprepared to win a Best Baby Blog award.
You guys moved to Berkshire and used to live in London. Do you miss anything about London?
Cliché I know, but the ‘buzz’. I loved being surrounded by people who were not afraid to be different, creative and open-minded. Also, as much as I love the countryside, there’s something special about London’s parks – we spent a lot of our time in Clissold Park, Victoria Park and Highbury Fields. Oh, and there’s also a decent boozer on every corner!
Your blog is doing great. What encouraged you to start your blog?
My wife, Georgia is to thank/blame. I’d been writing for a few years before A Day in The Life Dad came along; I’d written a novel, some children’s picture books, I’d contributed to music blogs and randomly even a betting company’s magazine. I just wanted to continue writing. With the rise of mum blogs and Instamums, Georgia just said, “you should start a dad blog”. I’m a doer, so within approximately 12 seconds, it was up and running. Due to my insecurity and shyness, especially towards friends who I knew would rip it to pieces for not being very ‘laddish’, I spent a few weeks adding content before being brave enough to go live. Thankfully it was met with huge positivity and not too much ‘banter’ from the lads.
Tell us about your work?
I work in education as an IT and Comms Manager. That apparently covers anything within a school that has an electrical current, but I also work on strategy, social media, marketing and anything else that might require a battery.
Let’s chat about winning The Mads Best Baby Blog in 2016 – How did that feel?
It was a complete shock. I headed to London thinking it would simply be a great chance to network and sink a few glasses of bubbly, and had no expectations of winning (as proved by my terrible speech). I was nominated in three categories (Best Writer, Best New Blog, Best Baby Blog) and as I sat down for my meal next to BrummyMummyof2, she told me in no uncertain terms, I would definitely win one of them – had she seen the results or something?! Then it dawned on me, I might actually win after all. In all honesty, I only ever nominated my blog to drive a bit of traffic to my site and boost my social media numbers! A few nervous trips to the loo later and my name was announced as winner of Best Baby Blog. I was so, so happy, and grateful to everyone who voted.
You made a big career move, stepping away from corporate life in the City to the world of teaching. How did that come about?
I’d been working in the City for 10 years or so for a number of large investment banks as a Project Manager. It was a pretty demoralising place to work, surrounded by wide boys in suits with too much gel, so I needed a change. Georgia’s family live in Windsor and with our first baby on the way, we made the decision to move out to where we’d be able to have a little help if we needed it. It all happened very quickly, and within a couple of months, I’d swapped finance for education, and the buzz of London for the social hub that is our little Co-Op.
We chat a lot of career stuff on Lucky Things Blog. So, what’s your top tip for people considering a career change?
If you’re unhappy and you can make it work financially, just do it. You don’t want to be sitting in your rocking chair in your 80s thinking ‘what if’.
Looking back, what three things have you learnt from your career?
1 – Remember when our parents used to say, “your schools days are your best days”, and we were all like “whatevs”? Well, because I work in education and I’m surrounded by children all day, I’m constantly reminded how special school days are. A school provides so much opportunity to learn and have fun, things a lot of us forget as we get older.
2 – I wish my parents had offered me a bit more careers advice. My dad was convinced I was going to make it as a footballer, so we never talked about an alternative career. When Real Madrid didn’t come calling, I didn’t really know what to do. My dad and my uncle both worked in the city, so I thought that was the only logical option. Looking back, I wasted 10 years doing something I didn’t enjoy.
3 – Linked to the above, I’ll make sure that our children, Edie and Arlo, have an opportunity to explore every option they have a passion for, so that they find a career they love.
As you’re juggling the day-job and a blog, what does work-life balance mean to you?
It’s huge and one of the main reasons I do what I do now. I enjoy a lot of time off because of the school holidays and I know I’m extremely lucky to spend more time with my children than a lot of parents do.
Over to your wife Georgia…What’s the best thing about Jamie starting a blog (and what’s the worst thing?!)
Georgia: The best thing is definitely seeing him more fulfilled creatively. Apart from the kids and the dogs (and me!) he loves writing and he’s brilliant at it, so it’s a real joy to see him doing that and doing it so successfully. There isn’t really a worst thing, but sometimes his camera can feel like the fifth member of our family!
Back to Jamie…It’s Mental Health Awareness week. Something I feel strongly about is looking out for men’s mental health too. In your eyes, how can men look after their own mental health and wellbeing?
Like many men my age, I’ve had some issues with my mental wellbeing over the years, but it’s only in recent times that I’ve realised it’s best to be just be open about it with family, friends and work.
Admit things aren’t quite right and seek help. That first step is so important. That might be through talking to people or taking medication, but the worst thing you can do is suffer in silence. Negative stigmas are lifting and unfair judgements people used to make are thankfully changing.
That’s pretty good advice for everyone, men and women come to think of it. What do you think could encourage men to be more open about their mental health if things aren’t great?
Friends and family are the key to spotting changes in men’s moods and states of mind, so without rocking the boat (as mental health is sometimes a tough subject to broach), gently coax them into seeking help or talking. I think the media can play an important role. I think it’s great when celebrities, or as in the recent examples Royalty lend their support. As much as I’m not a fan of the world of celebrities, I think they can really help, with men especially. If famous footballers, rugby players or actors openly spoke more often about how even they can be affected, perhaps more men would seek help.
You mentioned things haven’t always been great for you. So what’s your motto when things get a bit tough?
It’s ok to not be ok.
Confidence tricks are also a big thing on this blog. What’s your top tip for feeling confident?
I have real confidence issues whether in person or online. I procrastinate and over think everything I say, do or post, as I worry what people will think of me, and it has held me back. Sometimes I just need to give myself a kick up the bum (or my wife does), learn to forget what other people think and just do it.
What have your children taught you about life?
That life begins at 5.30am. Also, that children view life and the world with a wonderful purity and innocence. No judgement about shape, size, sex, colour or religion, all they care about is having fun. It’s a shame so many of us lose that. We could all do with being a bit more child-like now and again.
I think music is really important for our wellbeing too. So, what grown-up tunes do you and Georgia enjoy playing to your children?
Anyone who has ever watched any of my InstaStories will know that my children love a good dance (I use the word ‘dance’ quite loosely here – more of uncoordinated stomp). On a Friday evening, the Prosecco is popped and we blast out some classics Georgia and I grew up with, a bit of Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen), Can’t Touch This (MC Hammer), Faith (George Michael) and anything else that gets their little legs stomping.
And finally, what are your 3 lucky things (anything in life you feel grateful for or really love – but no need to say your family as that goes without saying!)
Firstly. my dogs. Soppy I know, but since leaving home at 19, I’ve had 5 dogs of my own and they’ve all given me so much joy. Secondly, good health *touches wood*. Thirdly, my childhood. We lived in an idyllic cottage in the beautiful countryside where my time was spent with friends, climbing trees, racing across corn fields, cooling off in rivers and playing cricket.
A huge thank you to Jamie and Georgia for taking part in the Inspire interview series.