The Modern Dad Movement: Cadenshae Co-Founder Talks Being A Dad And Changing Male Stereotypes At Home And Work

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When women take on the role of boss in the business world there is still this assumption that they remain primary caretaker of the children. And yes, we can do it all but what about dad?

Even today there is still this stigma that men are the primary breadwinners and it’s the woman’s job to do the cooking, cleaning, and caretaking of the kids—even if they have a full-time. job.

“It’s funny that in this day and age we are still getting the same situation where those thought processes are going on,” business owner and father of four, Adam Clarke said. “Without sounding like the guy that is jumping on the female bandwagon—I have been noticing a lot of moms and strong women around the world starting to really step up and be front and center and doing the job better than any males.”

With dad taking on a larger role at home, mom can succeed in her career—better equipped to balance work and home life instead of having to do a major juggling act.

Remember, fathers are not merely babysitters for when mom needs a break. And it seems like men are finally getting this message.

Many dads are very hands-on—sharing responsibilities at home and taking on active roles as a parent. And thanks to the internet and social media, we are in the midst of a “modern-day dad movement” that is gaining buzz.

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Among the talked about is Clarke, the co-founder of the activewear company Cadenshae that was started alongside his wife Nikki. He recently discussed his role in the business and at home in the now viral blog post.

Titled, “How Teamwork Makes The Dream Work,” Clarke details his 50/50 approach to parenting and how he and his wife are able to run a successful workout clothes brand for women while also balancing family life.

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Adam and Nikki Clarke with their children.

Clarke—and what other proud papas like him are showing— is that men can still be strong and masculine and a boss when it comes to business AND also be vulnerable and a hands-on caretaker when it comes to their children.

He is setting an example for other dads that being a parent means willingly being involved while also showing that there is also a place for men even in a female-driven market through the couple’s brand.

“I suppose it’s looked on a little bit weird that I got involved with Nikki in this [Cadenshae] from the start. And I think the hardest thing was that most people wondered what I was doing while Nikki was running the business—who was looking after the kids, while maybe I was doing nothing,” he said. “But it’s quite the opposite.”

The Man At Work

Launched in 2015 by wife Nikki Clarke and Adam, Cadenshae targets pregnant and breastfeeding mothers—filling a large gap in the sportswear market that has limited options that are functional and comfortable for nursing and ever-changing bodies.

So where does Clarke fit in as a man in a world of women?

The couple runs the business TOGETHER—even though it’s a female-targeted business.

It is wife Nikki is “the creative mind” of the business. “She’s basically the one who had the lightbulb moment,” Clarke said.

Along with coming up with the idea for the company, she continues to take on more business and creative tasks like the design.

Her husband takes on a management role, in charge of hiring, delegating duties, and managing the team.

His workday lasts about five to six hours until he then puts on his father hat to take care and spend time with the kids while Nikki can finish her day and take late meetings or emails.

“There is no his or her job,” he said. He wants everyone, as well as every father out there, to realize that you can have a full-time career and play a major role in caregiving for the kids—there are no gender-specific roles in either space.

“When I go to work, that’s the easiest part of my day. Coming home and being with the kids is when it turns into hard work because it’s emotional,” Clarke said.

The Man At Home

So while many might assume Nikki “does it all” when it comes to the home front, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Clarke steps in to take a front seat in parenting their children.

Being involved not only helps the mother (and yes, we need help even when we don’t ask), but it also has a positive effect on the kids. There is research that links better behavioral, emotional and academic outcomes for children and the quantity of contact with their fathers.

And this is why parental leave is just as important as maternity leave—especially when the mom is returning to work and the father wants to step in to take on the caregiving role.

“Fathers miss out on precious time with their children because they’re expected to be at work, it’s really tough on dads too,” Nikki said in a press release.

As important as it is for mothers to encourage dads to be dad, Nikki said, the workplace needs to as well.

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Clarke and son.

Clarke revealed that he has gotten his fair share of sexist remarks since he has been viewed as the “primary caregiver.” But this only causes him to want to celebrate this role as a father more.

A parent should parent, regardless of traditional gender roles at home. For Clarke, this means preparing and cooking meals, packing school lunches, getting the kids ready for school and tucking them into bed at night.

For the Clarkes, it’s all about balance. “Our children will always come first,” he said.“But I think we manage it pretty damn well— especially since we have four kids. You can’t not get involved.”

For them, it means putting down the phones to engage with the kids at times, at other times pulling away to get a work-related task done.

The secret to the couple’s success is doing tasks based on what they enjoy. They apply this both at work and at home. Clarke, once a jock who was often the captain of sports teams found it natural to take on a leadership role at Cadenshae. At home, it’s cooking that he enjoys.

How they decided who does what happened “organically” and without a conversation. “We float in and out of each other’s roles,” he said and this flexibility “blended into something that results in really good teamwork.”

“I think if you’re not going to enjoy what you’re doing why do it at all,” he asked. “You’re going to fail at some stage because you aren’t passionate about it. So we are very lucky that we are able to read each other’s minds in a lot of ways and do the stuff we enjoy. I think this has helped us in our business and as parents.”

Making Time For Him

And this idea of enjoying what you do translates into another part of his life: his fitness journey. Even with a full-day schedule of work and home responsibilities, there is always time to workout.

For Clarke, even though he co-runs their own business which gives him more flexibility than others, he still finds it a challenge to get in a workout when also having kids.

But since his health is also a priority so he rises before 5 a.m. to get his workout in, setting the tone of the day for him to be able to be productive. This means getting tasks done before most even turn on the coffee pot.

“If you wake up in the morning and workout, you already conquered something for the day,” he said. “I find that working out in the morning really charges me up and allows me to wake the kids up with a big smile on my face.”

And then he whips up breakfast, packs the lunch boxes and sends the kids off to school. “For the first two or three hours in the morning I’m on fire and ready to go.”

His tip is just to keep at it, making working out part of your routine

“Then four to six weeks later you will realize you got a good thing going,” he said. “Some people aren’t morning people, but find a way to become a morning person or fit your workout in after work with the kids running around you or once the kids go to bed.”

The Man In A Movement

Clarke has many roles: a co-founder of a growing company, a husband, father, and fitness enthusiast. But he is also a blogger on a mission to help men embrace their role as a father.

His “How Teamwork Makes The Dream Work” post was read more than 50,000 times, fueling the conversation about what it means to be a man and father today.

There seems to be the start of this shift where men are taking on more predominant roles as caregivers and being as involved as mothers, changing the perception of gender roles at home and promoting equality.

It’s a movement that is happening maybe not as fast as Clarke wants to see, but he said he is “happy to open the gates” to show men that they can still be masculine, strong and fit and be the boss at work, but also take on the more nurturing and caretaking role at home.

“I will keep on doing my thing and keep sharing my journey as a father and hopefully a lot of other people follow suit,” he said. “It’s a really exciting time [to be a dad] and it’s a really exciting time for moms as well. It doesn’t’ have to be like it used to be. You don’t have to be in a relationship where you are the sole caretaker or the father goes out and works. And I feel like the moms are speaking up now and saying we are parenting our kids together, not as individuals.

The movement is starting to happen.”

Clarke said in 2020 Cadenshae will continue to spread awareness around this issue and in the hope of altering societal views.

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