A conversation with Brian Geislinger, dad of three and vice-president of Corporate Relations with Alberta Blue Cross®.

Besides a small core group of employees who are still in our office to fulfill critical functions, we now have over 1,000 of our team members working safely from home as we navigate through the pandemic—many of whom are fathers navigating work from home life with kids. So instead of wishing all of the dads out there a happy Father’s Day, we decided to interview one of our own.

How does a “day at work” look like now that your office is at home?

In my role, I still keep “office” hours and as we have addressed the transformation of our organization through the pandemic I have actually been busier than ever. In this environment, I’ve found it has helped to try to establish a routine for consistency—while also remembering to take occasional wellness breaks.

One of the biggest pluses of working from home is being able to check in with my family through the day—sometimes I’m even able to have a quick lunch break with my kids. Not having the daily rush-hour commute to and from our downtown office is a big plus as it gives me back over an hour each day. Another nice benefit has been being able to work with a nearby window open to have lots of fresh air, something that just isn’t possible in an office environment.

How do you juggle work duties with home duties such as homeschooling and childcare during the day?

I am so fortunate to have a spouse who has taken the lead in our homeschooling efforts, so I can continue to focus on work during the day. A lot of working parents don’t have that, so I know this time has been a real challenge for many parents.

With three young kids at home, it takes a bit more effort to coordinate my work as I may be moving around the house during the day to accommodate my family’s routines. I also know I am going to get the occasional interruption from one of my five-year-old twins bursting in to share something exciting from their day or to proudly give me a picture they’ve drawn for me.   It is definitely not business as usual.

What are your tips for other dads out there trying to find balance and maintain their wellness? Do you have any hobbies or ways to relax after a busy day with the kids and work?  

I know a lot of people were looking at being socially distanced at home as an opportunity to take more time for fitness pursuits. But the reality in a lot of cases is that similar to the “freshman-15” (the weight gain a first-year college student often experiences), “COVID-19” has taken on a completely different connotation as people have stocked up on food then hunkered down at home through the pandemic. Hopefully the average weight gain hasn’t been 19 pounds, but many people have unfortunately been less active over the last three months than they usually are.

My advice for other dads is simply to keep moving. Take a 15-minute break at some point during the day and get out for a quick walk. Get out every evening—rain or shine—with your family for a walk or a bike ride or to play in the back yard. Also, be mindful of what you are eating and drinking. If you’re keeping an eye on your wellness, how much you’re eating is just as important as how much exercise you’re getting.

Lastly, take time for your mental health—whether that means reading a book, tinkering in the garage, having a socially-distanced driveway drink with a buddy or tackling a project from your ‘daddy-do list”.

What is something good that has come out of the pandemic for you as a dad?

I don’t think we can downplay how much the pandemic in combination with the economic impact of low energy prices in Alberta has upended our lives, and the terrible toll it has taken impacting people’s livelihoods as well as the human toll in our province alone directly due to COVID-19.

The silver lining for me has been more quality time with my family. Our kids are active, and as things like swimming lessons, Girl Guides, skating and dance classes have all been put on pause, we have more family time on the evenings and weekends—so we have been making the most of this time particularly by spending as much time as possible outside. We have also had craft days, board game nights, baking days, movie nights, scavenger hunts and more.

What is your ideal way to spend Father’s Day?

Just having quality time with my family is truly the greatest gift of being a dad, so to me this is the ideal way to spend Father’s Day. We’ll also be having my parents over for dinner as I want to have time with my own father on this special day. Unfortunately, my dear father-in-law passed away earlier this year, so this is a big reminder to make the most of the time I have with my own dad.

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