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Clay Nichols | The Balanced Mom Magazine

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DadLabs is an information and entertainment company that fosters the father/child relationship through media, instructional and retail products. The company provides resources to expecting, new and veteran fathers that will launch them into a more active and creative role in the lives of their children.

Clay Nichols, Chief Creative Officer, Co-Founder, Writer, Producer, and Star of DadLabs speaks candidly about how DadLabs was created, shares his challenge has a father, how he juggles it all and finds the balance in his life.

Tell us about the DadLab website and how it came about.

DadLab is a site about parenting from a father’s perspective. We have all kinds of features on the site, but our main platform is video. We create between 2 to 5 short videos a week on pretty much any imaginable topic pertaining to parenting. It’s informational and some of it is just pure entertainment. We’ve got over 800 videos in out catalog.

How did DadLabs get started?

It was started with two other of my colleagues. We were teachers in a private school and we were doing a lot of work with film. It led us to start conversations about starting our own films and we got together one night a week to kick around ideas for movies. We discussed what it was like with our kids and our pregnant wives and then our babies. We would talk about nursing or sleep deprivation and we realized that a lot of guys were having conversations about this also. However, none of it was available publicly, because everything was geared toward moms.

How was the response to what you were doing when you first started?

When we first started out, there weren’t a whole lot of available networks to go out to because we were some of the first dad bloggers. Unlike mom blogs where there’s a network to go out to and communicate with, this kind of thing wasn’t available to us dads when we first started. And now there’s a healthy network of dads. We got lucky. We had some notes in national media and some features on YouTube© that got us circulating. And that’s kind of what launched us. We’ve been lucky to have some new corporate partners.

I think this is just a reflection of what’s going on in our culture. At a grocery store today, there is five times as many men than 15 years ago and that’s just part of a larger cultural shift. We’re redesigning what’s expected of men.

Does your tagline, “Taking Back Paternity” signify that more dads are going out there and being more involved with their kids?

I think in some ways it was sort of a joke. Maternity has just warm positive implications. It is something that’s to be celebrated. When you think of the word Paternity, you think of lawsuits to get men to live up to their obligations and it’s a very negative connotation. Paternity should be just as positive of a word as maternity and that’s our approach. What we’ve produced so far has been funny and lighthearted. It is important for guys to participate in the lives of their kids and also to talk about it with other guys.

Share with us what the book is about?

We’ve put out two instructional DVDs a long time ago and those are out of print. A few Father’s Days ago, 3 years or 2, we published a traditional book called Guy’s guide to fatherhood, pregnancy year 1, and it’s basically a funny handbook for guys to look at pregnancy in the first year. The people that have read it have had great reviews, many people find it useful. Just recently we’ve begun publishing a series of eBooks that are a little more practical and a little more specific and less oriented towards dads, more general and we’re galling it he sane parents guide and we just published the sane publics guide for getting g young home ready for a baby and we’ve got 5 more titles in the series the will include things like mobility, like strollers that will come out next month and so on and so forth over the next 6 months we will be publishing these eBooks. It’s a great opportunity for creators and parents to get together and that’s been our talk from day one. You don’t need a publisher, a TV show; you can sue the tools out there to talk directly to parents.

What is your biggest challenge with fatherhood?

I think this is true for a lot of guys. If you go home, sometimes it’s hard when the rubber meets the road because I want to be completely present for my kids, be an equal partner to my wife when it comes to taking care of the house and kids. I want to fully inhabit this new role and at the same time there’s the pull of stereotypical things like spending more time at the office, I need to be working harder and earning more money. The traditional male roles still have a grip on me and dictate things that won’t necessarily make me the best dad. Balancing the old model with the new model is a challenge for me.

One of the hard things for all parents is the juggle of three kids with work, the birthday parties, etc.  Everything works fine until one kids gets sick and the whole house melts down. You have to be with the one kid. The hard thing these days is balancing all our obligations as a family.

Wow, so it’s not really too far off from how we feel as moms with the balancing and juggling.

Yes.  I think that as time goes by our concerns are going to be converging. Moms are working more and dads are contributing more at home. So it’s not a surprise. Ultimately, one of the big challenges for moms is feeling compelled to get everything done. Moms feel like they have to get all these things done. One of the big problems we see as this new household model emerges is that moms are going to have to give some stuff up for dads to do, but as they do that they have to really give it up. They can’t pass it to dad and expect dad to do it just as mom would do it. It may be the way dad folds the laundry. Moms need to let go a little and let dad do it his way. It’s not wrong, just a different way of doing things, but it gets done.

What do you enjoy most about being a dad?

There is not a lot about it that I don’t love. Reading to them, sitting on the sideline and watching their sports games, hearing how their day went as school, listening to them talk to each other when they don’t know that I’m listening. Those are some of my favorite moments. There’s so much about fatherhood that I find endlessly fascinating.

Of course, there are hard times and bad times. And you hate to see the kids struggle or get ill or get in conflict, but they enrich my life that it’s not possible for me to conceive a life without that.

What number one advice would you give a first time dad?

I think it’s about you having to be present. The biggest challenge to men and to parents is to be present as much as you can. At minimum be in the same room, and at the maximum be unplugged, focused and listening and you’ll learn everything you need to know about being a good dad. The key thing is just to be present and that means sacrificing a little bit like giving up golf for a little while or coming home in time for family dinners. Set aside things that you think are important but really aren’t.

Number two is being able to laugh at yourself and have a sense of humor with what you’re doing. Kids offer the opportunity for us to learn about ourselves – the good stuff and the bad stuff.

Moms need to do certain things to feel balanced, what do you do to stay balanced?

There are two things I do. I run and I drink wine. About 5 years ago, I decided that I was going to go to bed when the kids did and get up earlier than them to take time for myself and go for a run. That developed into a nice hobby and a great release for me. The other thing I do is my wife and I have a long-standing tradition where we sit down in our family room every evening, which has no television, and we have a glass of wine and talk. We don’t really have to offer an invitation or any inducement, but our kids find a way of wandering in to sit down and listen to what we’re talking about. If their friends are over, they join in on the conversation and it’s been a way of making sure that my wife and I are connected, that the kids are aware we are connected and to invite them in to be part of the conversation.