This month’s installment of DadsLikeUs features a fellow father and friend of the DaddyMindTricks family.

Julian Caldwell is the founder of popular website GetConnectDad. His series, “52 Traits We Want in Our Kids” is an ongoing series featuring awesome moms and dads on a weekly basis that break down traits and parenting styles that positively impact the way we are raising the next generation.

Mark even jumped into the act to chime in on his own journey through fatherhood with a fantastic piece featured in Julian’s series.

Related: I Had to Stop Being a Hypocrite

Now the “Poobah” of GetConnectDad joins us for DadsLikeUs – our ongoing series that profiles successful dads out there in the world, as we try to deconstruct their strategies and habits to learn more about what makes us all tick.

As fathers in this vast society we call Earth, we all come from many different walks of life – from cultures to experiences to locales – but one thing that brings us all together is our unconditional love for the those little ones that take up so much of our time.

DadsLikeUs promises to help us all learn from each other to discover some hardcore knowledge about this thing we call parenting.

DadsLikeUs: Julian Caldwell of GetConnectDad

Name: Julian Caldwell
Location: Council Bluffs, IA
Occupation: Sales Executive
Number of kids: 3
One word that best describes how you parent: Tired.

How do you balance fatherhood, marriage, work and social life?

One of the most interesting things I have learned in my journey in fathership is the reality that there really isn’t such thing as balance. I am constantly reminded by the ‘swinging’ of the time pendulum from focus to focus, as best I can.

Conceptually, we are taught that time management is about balance; however, at certain times of our lives, marriage is the primary focus. At other times, work is the focus, etc.

The  best advice I have in this area is when in doubt, focus on your kids and your family. Work and prestige is fleeting. I believe, the most important thing that matters at the end of my life here on Earth is how good of a job did I do raising my kids.  

They are my legacy and the investments I make today in their lives will be repaid in years to come with other families, their kids, and their spouse.

For a technical answer, I use an awesome product called Beesy. It does an incredible job of managing my very busy life.

How do you recharge?

I camp. It used to be much more recharging than it is at this exact season in my life; however, I love those nights when I am somewhere in a park, looking up at a dark sky where the stars look like they are about 50 feet above me.

We were fortunate enough this past year to purchase two large travel trailers. We call one of the trailers, the ‘friends and family’ trailer; however, it is used entirely by my in-laws.

The time we have had as a family while camping has been the best time in my life and has been a great opportunity to recharge my soul.

Funniest moment as a dad?

Wow. I will use the most current example. As you can imagine and some of your readers know, having a three-year old and a five-year old boy is full of opportunities for newer funny moments.

This past weekend, my boys were having a particularly challenging time to behave. The techniques that my wife and I were deploying were not working and quite honestly, it was one of those moments when you both look at each other and say, ‘come on bedtime.’  

We had a dinner to attend and left our boys in the care of our good friend who watches them regularly. In the middle of dinner, I received a text that said ‘the boys have said they are no longer interested in Christmas, so they don’t are if Snowflake (Elf on the Shelf) ever returns.”

Stunned, I could only think that Lacey had somehow misunderstood what they were saying and Laurie and I committed to chatting in the morning with the little ones.

When I got up, I asked the boys about their statement and my three-year old said, “He was unable to be good, so, he is okay if he doesn’t get any gifts this year.”  

 Shocked, I asked the five year old how he felt and he said, “I don’t really care if Snowflake comes, I am having trouble behaving, so maybe no Christmas.”  

Stunned, we just bit our lip and wondered what on early we were going to do between now and Christmas with their gifts, the tree, etc.  

Not surprisingly, they came to their senses around noon and said they were actually having an ‘easier time’ being good, so they would like Snowflake to come back soon.

Kids.

Meet Julian Caldwell in DadsLikeUs by DaddyMindTricks

Scariest moment as a dad?

Well, the scariest moment, much like a lot of other fathers I have met, was when I went into court 10 years ago and lost custody of my daughter after having had joint custody for 11 years.  

There is no feeling I have felt since that time as agonizing to me than that.  It is the reason GetConnectDAD exists and honestly becomes one of the biggest drivers for me to help other dads become more connected with their kids.  

What’s your sleep routine like?

Horrible. I made the mistake during a remodel a few years ago to bring my little man (who was 3 at the time) out of his bedroom so he could sleep in my room.  

He has never left. I am told that this too shall pass; however, at this moment, he is a standard part of my ‘foot in the side of my head’ sleeping pattern I experience.  

In reality, having an older daughter who is 22, I am constantly reminded at how quickly the time flies by and these moments when he wants to be close to me will pass.

I will gladly soak them in.

What’s your best time-saving trick/life hack?

I have three things I focus on for time saving:

1)  How fast can I get coffee in me in the morning. 2) Try to never write anything with a pencil or pen. 3) Software tools that save me time.

Coffee

I try to schedule the coffee the night before so it is ready at a moment’s notice when I awake. I know it doesn’t save any time the night before; however, it saves a ton of time in the morning and makes it morning run a little smoother.  

No Writing Utensils

I have horrible handwriting to start; however, I find anything I write down I have to share with someone. Because of that, I try to text it or write it on my phone / iPad.  

I can’t remember the last time I used a pen for anything except signing a check.

Software Tools

IFTTT.com, StatusBrew, SocialQuant, RoundTeam.co are all tools I use to increase my effectiveness with social media and life in general. I am not affiliated with these groups; however, I love their tools and use them as part of my regular day.

Meet Julian Caldwell of GetConnectDad and his Family in DadsLikeUs by DaddyMindTricks

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

I am not sure there is anything I am better at than anybody else. I do think I am a few things that make me successful. I am creative, gutsy, and genuinely concerned about leaving a positive mark on this world.  

It is easy to say someone is creative; however, there have been a few dozen times in my life when I was told something couldn’t be done and I figured it out by being creative.  

The gutsy part comes from the role my mother and father played in my life.

Growing up, we were very poor. Probably upper-lower class;  we never went to a movie, we never had new clothes, we never went out with my friends, etc.  

I am not complaining because when I look back on that life, I am amazed at how I see it; however, my Mom and Dad did some incredible things for us kids.  

They moved away from their homes in Kentucky when I was young with two purposes: to start a church and find a better life for us.  

They found a better life for us in Seattle and we were given a ton of opportunities because my parents took smart risks.  

To this day, all of my siblings are very successful in their professional and personal lives.

We owe that to the guts it took for my parents to roll the dice and move away for a different life.

What was the inspiration behind the 52 Traits series on your site, GetConnectDad?

In May of 2016, I was on an airplane on a Sunday morning, heading away for a week of leadership training for GE, where I currently work. After we took off, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I needed to be doing something more than just reading another book about Sales Techniques and Methodologies.   

Literally, a voice in my head, who I attribute to God, said, “What would happen if you spend half of the time you are away from your family, working on being a better father?”  

Immediately I wrote down a sort of ‘position’ paper about what I felt I could do for fatherhood and thus began GetConnectDAD.  

I had reserved the domain about 10 years ago when I lost custody of my daughter and had been toying around with a few ideas; however, after adopting our two boys, I felt like this list of Traits I had been carrying around for a months were a great foundation piece for me to start writing on.  

After a few days of this, some awesome fathers volunteered to write with me and today, we are 150 strong, from 15 countries, and we are a little more than half way through the years worth of writing.  

I could have never guessed it would grow as fast as it has. I am thankful and happy that we are reaching fathers in 80+ countries every month.  We are blessed.

What are you currently reading?

  • The Facebook Era – Chara Shih
  • Business Dad – Tom Hirschfield
  • Out of the Seats, and Into the Seats – By My friend Ron Dolzer
  • Content Machine – Dan Norris
  • Hustle – Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, Jonas Koffler
  • Everybody Writes – Ann Handley

I would say I am 50% through all of them. 🙂 That is how I read. Dang Kindle.

What’s the biggest challenge/surprise that hit you since becoming a father?

Biggest surprise is how effective one can be when they follow the 5 Habits we are actively trying to get parents to adopt.

  1. Live your Faith
  2. Devote 1 hour each week to each kid
  3. Read a Story
  4. Take a walk outside (if possible)
  5. Say “I love you” and Hug your kids daily

I am different the second time around with my boys. I am keenly aware of how fast they grow up and because of that, I want to enjoy as much time as I can with them.

Secondly, #2 above, has been met with a ton of questions from parents; however, I don’t believe parents are spending enough one on one time with each kid.

Experts suggest 15 minutes per day SOLELY focused on doing something your kid wants to do, goes a long way towards improving their behavior, their connection, and their sense of belonging in the family.

We try to do this as religiously as we can, given the fact that life has a funny way of slapping me around daily. When we invest that time, we are amazed at how well behaved the kids are.

How (if at all) has fatherhood changed you?

I would say fatherhood has made me more thankful and more realistic about how much I can control in my life. I have always been a very ‘span of control’ type of person.

Being the parent has encouraged me to believe in God more than I ever have before; Being a parent has encouraged me to not take myself nearly as seriously as I have before; and being a parent has provided a purpose to my life that I will forever be thankful for.

What’s the best advice (parenting or just life in general) you’ve ever received?

Don’t give up. Period.

Sounds cliche, but if I had stopped every time someone said it can’t be done, I would be absolutely no where.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would love for the fathers who read your articles to please join the growing number of fathers and mothers at GetConnectDAD on our journey.  

I am convinced that fathers who are scared, fathers who are tired, fathers who are new, and fathers who are old are better off when we lean on each other for answers, advice, etc.  

Where can we find you on the Interwebz (website, Twitter, Facebook page, etc.)?

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The DadsLikeUs series asks fellow fathers to to share their stories, advice, cautionary tales and much more. If you know a dude-turned-dad that you think should be featured here, or if you have some interesting questions you think I should ask, email us at DaddyMindTricks [at] gmail [dot] com.