On Running Into Fatherhood, With Adam Axford
Dadditude Newsletter #12
Dadditude interviews dads from different backgrounds, professional fields and ethnicities to get their insights on what it means to be a dad in the current moment.
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The arrival of a baby requires a lot of preparation, but for many of us, physical training is not part of the equation. Adam took up running while his wife was pregnant and has lost 5 stones (32kg) since starting 2 years ago. He documents his training journey on his Instagram account Not Bad For A Fat Dad.
We spoke with him recently about being a work from home dad, how his training benefits his parenting, and paternity leave.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Adam and I’m a 31 year old Dad from Stockport, Greater Manchester! I’m a father of one and have been married to my wife for nearly 6 years, together for just over 11. I’m a Project Manager for a building control systems company. I’m a huge Manchester United fan and a keen runner. I’ve ran over 700km so far this year and have goals of running a sub 45min 10k and sub 1 hour 45min Half Marathon.
Tell us about your kid.
My little boy Luca was 2 years old in January. He’s absolutely amazing! He is always so happy, very cheeky and really clever! He’s quickly learning how to push his boundaries as do all toddlers and he constantly surprises us with how much he’s understanding and taking in. He is obsessed with Dinosaurs and does a great impression. And he loves nothing more than being outdoors playing, whatever the weather!
How has training changed the way you parent?
The main difference really has been training while tired from a lack of sleep. It can make it difficult and coffee is now my best friend! I started running properly while my wife was pregnant and then didn’t run as much during the first year after Luca’s arrival. So technically I’ve had a completely different experience the second time round. Emotionally, I like to use my running as a way of getting some headspace, it helps me clear my head or gives me the time alone to think about anything that might be on my mind.
How do you manage to mix work and family?
Since the start of lockdown last year I’ve been working from home. Now that things are returning to normal, it doesn’t really impact my life as a father as I’m still working full time. The only difference is when I’m out on site visits, sometimes leaving really early and arriving home late. Luckily I’ve not missed many (maybe any) bedtimes, but I feel guilty that I’m not around in the morning to help get everything ready with my wife, so she has to do everything on her own. This can be particularly hard if we’ve had a bad night sleep-wise, so that really plays on my mind!
In terms of training, with a busy work and home life, I try where I can to run on my lunch breaks while working from home. Being a father comes first so I would sacrifice a run if I had to, but I’ve been quite lucky so far. My wife and I work really well together to share the early mornings etc and we allow eachother time to ourselves, most of mine is spent running. I think my running has definitely helped with being a father. You’d be surprised how quickly a 2 year old can run, so being able to keep up is definitely helpful! I couldn’t imagine running around back when I was almost 5 stone heavier, so keeping fit is definitely a bonus! I think it also benefits Luca, as I’m able to play and can keep going for longer. I don’t think I would be doing him justice if I was still unfit.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
I would like to have said patience, but that’s definitely being tested recently as Luca stretches his boundaries! The terrible twos are a very real thing for us! Having said that, I would say that I do have a good patience threshold when it comes to parenting. Also I think I’m fairly calm, most of the time. I’ve learned to just relax when it comes to things like mess, disruptions to routines etc and accept that things will just happen.
What stresses you out the most these days as a parent?
Not being able to figure out what Luca needs sometimes can be pretty stressful. But all in all I try not to get stressed out. Like I say, things will happen, for me it’s about accepting them and just keeping going.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy in the past?
With Luca only being two I don’t think there’s really anything I wish I’d invested more time in. The one thing that bothers me most is that I didn’t get enough quality time at home before I had to return to working, at the time I was still office based. Leaving my wife at home on her own with Luca was really difficult. I think as a country we really need to improve paternity leave for dads and make it law for companies to offer a better package. I was only offered two weeks' leave, which we couldn’t afford, so I had to take some annual leave to cover the time I had at home. Looking forward, I want to make sure I always make time to play and engage with Luca. I think like a lot of people these days we can be too engrossed in our phones / technology and I don’t want that to rub off on Luca or for him to think he was second best.
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kids recently?
It’s really hard to pick a single moment really. Luca is constantly changing, learning and developing, he just makes me so proud! The one thing I was always looking forward to when we were expecting, was the huge hugs and cries of ‘Daddy’ when he sees me come home from work or when I go to pick him up from Nursery etc. I don’t think anything beats that feeling at the moment!
Thank you Adam!
Check out Dadditude Newsletter #1: On Making Music and Raising Kids In The Time of Covid, With Tony As
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