A step into fatherhood is always said to be an amazing one. Aside from the anxiety of labour and a long 9-month wait before seeing your little one, Tom Docking of Dad’s Group Inc. takes us on a short walk down the path of fatherhood with his one year old daughter, Evelyn, and reminds new dads that they’re not alone this Father’s Day.
Who are you?
I’m Tom Docking.
Why did you decide to create Dad’s Group Inc.?
I created Dad’s Group Inc. (DGI) when my daughter was born, after seeing that there was no national organisation to support new dads as they transition into the new exciting and challenging role of fatherhood. We connect new dads, Local councils, Maternal Child Health departments, Rotary Clubs and other community organisations to sponsor and support groups of new dads.
Our vision is “for dads and their kids to create their own safe, healthy, fun, sustainable community network wherever they live and be equipped with the knowledge of who can help them before they reach personal hardship or tragedy”.
Do you have a morning and evening routine?
Most days, I wake up to the sound of Evelyn talking from her cot. I go into her room pick her up sit her on her baby sized armchair by the window. She watches the sun come through the window and I often pass out on the carpet. After awaking to a small foot in the face I make my way to the kitchen and put on the kettle for my cup of tea. Some mornings, I race around the house and pretend to scare her, she loves this game and pretends to be scared and runs away laughing.
The evening routine is dinner bath and bed for Evelyn. I enjoy talking with my wife Kate, reflecting on the day and having a bit of a laugh together.
Is fatherhood stressful?
I have moments of stress, but they’re generally rationalised as I identify I’m either hungry, tired or need a swim. When I’m tired, a swim and a spa or a sauna usually gets me through. We like spending time at home as a family, but we also like to go out and explore the outdoors. We are very socially active, we spend a lot of time with family, friends, going to the zoo, parks and cafes.
What is personal life like pre-baby vs. post-baby?
There’s less time in a day to do twice as many activities, so it’s about being able to prioritise your wife and child, then you as a family unit, and then income (from being a consultant), as well as community development initiatives (DGI) and helping others in need. I am determined to be aware of what I’m committing my life to, and whether I have got my priorities in line to date along with what my 25 year priorities are; which are family, and community, and leaving some kind of legacy on this planet while we have a short time on it.
Did post-baby life turn out as expected?
I don’t generally go into big changes in life with many expectations. Just because when you grow up you start to realise the expectations are what really throws you in life. So if you have low or not much expectations in life (accompanied by a positive approach), life actually maintains a steady, generally positive outcome. But it’s been amazing, definitely the best thing that’s happened to Kate and I. It was a surprise, and now we’ve got Evelyn Joy, who lives up to her middle name and is very much a bundle of joy.
How do you compensate for the lack of sleep?
I try to allocate meetings at a time when I know I’m going to be very effective. For example I don’t generally book myself morning meetings before 9am.
Most useful advice when you first became a dad?
Learning that being a dad is like any big transition in life. You can’t really prepare for it and you’re going to have things that you’re not ready for, but it’s how you approach responding to this new challenge and excitement and joy that would decide how successful you’re going to be at it.
Do you prefer organic products for Evelyn?
Kate and I focus on eating, healthy, organic produce as a family rather than the overproduced over-packaged options. But there’s definitely a time and place for packaged quick fix baby products – when the baby’s screaming and you’re halfway between the zoo and the car park, you need an exciting pre-packed treat immediately!
What is your goal as a father?
To be able to provide Evelyn with love from her family, and know she is safe and can explore life with the support of the people she lives with, like Mum and Dad, and one day brothers and sisters. I think anyone can essentially succeed in doing that as long as they have the right priorities and put family as number one. It can be tough, but that’s the foundation that allows the child to become whoever and whatever they choose to be.
“Watch Me Grow” by Interlude Visuals