Working Mother

Horace Tiggs IV

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Managing Director, Detroit Innovation Hub at Accenture, Detroit, Michigan

The secret to household harmony for Horace and his wife, Jennifer, an instructio­nal coach at an elementary/ middle school, is leveraging each other’s strengths. As full-time working parents to two daughters, ages 23 and 6, Horace says coordinati­ng their younger daughter’s care and shepherdin­g her to extracurri­cular activities was by far their biggest challenge, prepandemi­c. Now it’s figuring out “who’s on first” as both work from home.

How have you maintained work-life balance during the pandemic?

We don’t relinquish family time. Before, in the morning, I would get up, get myself ready, get lunches packed, get my daughter ready and take her to school. Now, I’m still on daughter duty from 6 to 9 a.m. while my wife works out or catches up on emails. The pandemic has forced us all to be more rigid on scheduling because we’re not working from home—we’re living at work. Being conscious about our boundaries, and when they need to be flexed, is more important now. If we don’t do that, work or life will overrun us.

What’s helped take the stress out of these conversati­ons?

We lay out the “why” behind an ask. With kids, there’s an infinite amount of “whats”—wash them, bathe them, get them ready in the morning—but getting caught up in the whats becomes tense because it feels like a never-ending list of tasks. If we start with why we’re asking for something to be done, and how that particular task fits into the bigger picture of household maintenanc­e, it “de-tensifies” the situation.

Why do you think dads should play a big role at home?

I want my girls to see there are no sacred cows when it comes to activities required for running a house. I make it a point to let my daughters see me washing dishes, doing laundry and cleaning bathrooms. Not because it’s a task moms should do or dads should do, but because I want them to understand how to run a household, and that they can run one on their own, independen­t of anyone else. I want my girls to see they can choose to partner with someone later in life, but it’s not a necessity.

What advice would you offer other dads with working-mom wives?

Be present. Be at your kid’s play. Be in the room while she’s coloring a picture. It’s the same with supporting my wife. I can’t necessaril­y prescribe how and when she needs support, but I can be there so that when she needs it, she doesn’t have to go looking for it. She’s got it without question. I’m always here.

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