Atlanta Parent spoke with John Smiles, Senior Director of Marketing for Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. He is father to Audrey, 15, and Griffin, 12.
What new activity have you and your family started enjoying during this time?
The biggest adjustment for us has been all of us being home. My wife and I both work out of the house in an office environment. We’re spending a lot more time together. There’s been a lot of binge-watching shows on Netflix or Disney+. Pre shelter-in-place, we were always running kids from one activity to the next. This has been a time to slow down and get some things done around the house, spend more time together as a family, sitting down at the kitchen table and having meals together.
I’ve been learning chess from my son.
My daughter and I have been out doing driving lessons to get her ready.
How are you balancing working at home with home/family responsibilities?
Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta has been working from home since March 13. In June, we’re loosening up some of the restrictions and getting a few people in the office, trying to adhere to social distancing rules and safety recommendations. I feel pretty fortunate. Both my kids are a little older, and we have our boundaries. With their schoolwork, it takes them most of the morning to early afternoon, so I’ve had my own space carved out to work. We get so caught up in the day-to-day race. This time to slow down a little bit was refreshing. We didn’t realize how crazy and busy our schedules had gotten.
Do you have any meals that are your specialty?
Breakfast. My first job in high school I was a Shoney’s cook, and I had the breakfast shift most of the time. I learned do the different styles of eggs, so I do a pretty mean breakfast, and nobody else tinkers with that.
Any at-home projects you have been able to tackle?
We’ve done a lot of house projects, which has been one of the benefits for adults to do some spring cleaning. Normally, we’re too busy, so ‘we’ll get to it when we can.’ Now, we’re getting to clean the garages and sheds. I’ve knocked out things that would have taken me six months to get completed. Not sure the kids have enjoyed cleaning, but they’ve seen the value in putting in hard work and helping out around the house.
Any funny dad/kid(s) moments from this time?
We’re all thinking this, but to hear it come from a kid brings it home a little bit. We were trying to figure out future plans, and my son said, ‘Can they just not tell us when this is over? So we’ll know when we can start planning?’ He’s been keeping up with things, so he boiled it down to a simple question: can they just not give us an end date? It struck me as funny.
All this cleaning that we’re doing, they’re asking, ‘How did we acquire all this stuff?’ That’s what 20 years in a house will do for you, which shows you the value of purging and getting rid of things. We had a major house repair pre-COVID. We got everything unpacked that we had to box up and move out of the way. We’re hanging pictures back up, and we have a whole wall of my daughter, where we’d taken professional pictures of her each month as a baby. My son asks, ‘Where is all my stuff?’ You go crazy with the firstborn, and I don’t know if it’s lazy or just life stuff, but you don’t go as crazy with the second.
How do you plan to celebrate Father’s Day?
It’ll be interesting this year. The last three years, I have spent Father’s Day weekend in Asheville, North Carolina for a lacrosse tournament for my son. I’m used to being out and about. We’ve talked about going camping or going to the lake.
Any other advice for dads during this time?
It can be stressful. Try not to project that stress where your family or kids pick up on it. Enjoy the slower pace right now. We all know that we’ll get back to some sort of normalcy at some point with activities.