My late father grew up on a Wyoming ranch and, like many men of his generation, was raised to be tough and independent. He took care of horses, fixed cars, and taught his dog tricks. He could fix pretty much anything because, growing up on a ranch, you know that the best person to depend on is yourself.
Looking back, I don’t think there was much space for my Dad’s feelings or emotions while growing up. Especially considering that while his Father was off fighting in World War II, my Dad stepped in and (effectively) took on the "man of the house" role at a very young age.
My Dad Had a Strong Work Ethic and Even Stronger Values
My Dad’s work ethic was legendary; it led him to graduate from Dartmouth and Stanford Law. After school, he poured himself into a fifty-year career at a Colorado law firm where he became a fixture. You could find him there six days a week (even after he formally retired).
My Dad was the true definition of a family man; he always provided for our entire family. Recognizing the importance of gathering the family around the table, he even made sure to make it home for dinner each night. But he wasn’t a Dad who cooked, changed diapers, or coached the sports teams.
My Dad firmly believed in the power of toughness and hard work. I still remember his parting words when he dropped me off at college: “Peter, work your ass off!” While it wasn’t exactly a Hallmark moment, it stuck with me. In fact, I think it helped me understand and truly take in his values.
On the other hand, it was my mom that raised us, nurtured us, dealt with our fighting, helped us with homework, and ran the household. I bet she often felt like a single parent, which must have been tough on her. Especially considering that she had three wild boys on her hands.
My Own Experience Being a Father Has Been Amazing
Being a father has been truly amazing. But I do believe that my parenting style differs from my Dad's. Like many men in my generation, raising a family has been a shared experience: I worked, my wife worked, and we shared all the familial duties.
I also loved coaching my kids' sports teams, and I tried my best to never miss an after school game or theater performance. While I’m sure that my career as an entrepreneur and business owner was held back by my decision to prioritize family over ambition, it was a trade-off I made with intention.
I wanted to know my kids and to show up for them. My career has been awesome, and I’m very proud to be the CEO of MOX Skincare for men. But, I’m more proud that I’ve raised great “kids” (now ages 19, 22 and 25). I've gotten to be present for them, while enjoying some of the best moments of my life.
A Little Bit of Dad Wisdom
Many of you are fathers of young children. Or perhaps you're thinking about starting a family. Either way, I have some Dad wisdom to share with you: When you die, no one will remember what your job was or how much money you made. It's who you are and your impact that will leave a mark.
There will always be work. And making money is a fact of life. However, the window to raise kids and have a family is shorter than you might think. So try to be present. It'll allow you to see what's right in front of you. Remember: Time is always in short supply.
To always be present for my family, here are some ways I made the most of my time:
Think in terms of shifts. I started my day with a workout and meditation. Then, I helped get the kids up and out the door before heading to work. We like to call this first shift. Second shift was the time I spent at the office, while third shift was taking care of the evening stuff (making dinner and doing homework, for example.)
Fourth shift was spending thirty minutes before bed planning the next day and wrapping up any unfinished tasks I didn't get to prior. To boost my productivity for the next day, I always made sure to fall asleep knowing the most important task to get done the following morning.
Cook double dinners. Getting dinner together as a parent gets old real quick. To make things easier, I cooked what I like to call double dinners. This way, I could freeze a meal, thus eliminating the need to cook in the future. This time saving hack allowed me to spend more time with my family.
Put your phone away. Kids crave your full attention, so when I spent time with my kids, I made sure to put my phone down. This allowed me to be present and more observant. I also think it helped establish the concept that phones and social media are not the same as real life.
Quality time is more important than quantity time. Life is busy, and it’s not easy raising a family and balancing work. To spend time with each one of my kids, I made a habit of taking them out to breakfast. I branded this as special breakfasts, and my kids ate it up (literally and figuratively).
With hundreds of special breakfasts in my back pocket, I was able to get to know each of my children on a deeper level, allowing me to establish trust and built a foundation of love with them that still continues today. We may not get as many moments with our kids as we think, so make the most of each one.
Prioritize your own health first thing in the morning. Once the work day started, I found it super hard to fit in a workout. To solve this issue, I prioritized an early trip to the gym before the kids woke up.
I’d also sprinkle in journaling or meditating after the workout, which are two of life’s best mindfulness practices. When your morning starts with this kind of momentum, it tends to carry forward into the rest of your day.
Summary: Do Your Best and Be Your Best
I have worked hard as a father and an entrepreneur. While I've made many mistakes, I’ve done my best to show up and be present. Trying to balance career success with family success can be a challenge, but you can do it.
Having the intention to succeed in both areas of your life is one of the most important steps a man can take. It’s a good life, but it’s a short life. Remember that the people you help bring into the world matter more than anything or anyone else.
Peter Murane is a Denver-based father and CEO of Mox Skincare