“Hey, Dad” Talk with Nicolas Drechsler

Hey, Dad – why? Background:

Balancing work and family is a challenge for many parents. For some it works better, for others less so. Each person sees compatibility from his or her own perspective. Talking about it can encourage others to make positive changes. Those who share their experiences can inspire others and contribute to a better balance.

That’s why on awina.ch we let people talk who live compatibility in all its facets every day in their own way. Now let’s get to our guest. 

May we introduce?

Nicolas Drechsler is the Head of Communications and Media Spokesperson at the University Hospital Basel. His previous positions include editor and later editorial director at Radio Basilisk, and he worked as editor and then department head Basel-Stadt at bz Basel. He is the father of three children.

Nicolas, you’re a dad and Head of Communications and Media Spokesperson at the University Hospital Basel at the same time. How do you organize yourself to juggle everything?
The most important thing is that WE organize ourselves. It only works together. My wife Nicole and I both have demanding jobs that we can’t simply block out in the evenings. And we have three boys who shouldn’t miss out. So we have had to spin a whole web with family, a nanny, occasional daycare, playgroup, etc., so that no one and nothing comes up short. 

You chose to have children and a career – why?
Children are great. And so are the challenges of a professional career. I wanted both, we wanted both, and we can do both. But we have to do without other things. Especially sleep. 

What are the biggest challenges for you as a “working dad” in everyday life?
Everything that can’t be planned. As soon as something extraordinary happens at short notice, like a crisis meeting in the evening or early morning. Or a child who suddenly has a fever in the morning, or a positive COVID-19 test at school. Then you have to act quickly and as a team to regroup. 

What are moments in your children’s lives that you definitely don’t want to miss?
Basically all of them. I have a bad case of FOMO (Fear of missing out) when it comes to the kids. But what’s most important to me is to be there when they are especially happy and especially sad. In the first case, to rejoice with them, in the second, to be there for them. 

You can’t always do both. How do you handle it when you have to choose between work and family commitments? Which comes first?
When in doubt, I’m quite open about it, family always comes first. The job is very important to me. But family is forever. 

To what extent is compatibility an issue for you – especially in your role as a leader – at work?
It’s a topic that is unfortunately still far too present. Especially when you know everyone is waiting at home, but I’m still needed here. Or you’re at home and the phone rings off the hook. In management positions, there are moments when you can’t just leave, because you’re not “just” leaving work behind, you’re leaving employees behind who have questions, need support, are waiting for a decision. It’s not always easy to weigh things up. 

What is your ideal workload (and why)?
I have a 100% workload, which in fact is more like a 120% workload, and in a job where I am practically always on call. That’s too much with kids ages 10 months, 3 years, and 7 years. Perfect for me would probably be 80% (which would be 100%, but let’s not go there…).

When a child is sick, who steps in first at your house – you or your wife?
Unfortunately, it’s too often my wife, who works a little less than I do. But we try to rotate that the longer the more. The reflex should not be that the mother simply takes over. First and foremost, the person for whom it is easier in a specific case must step in (who has fewer fixed, important appointments on that day). And then you also have to consciously think about it each time, “whose turn was it last time, is the distribution fair?” 

How do you live compatibility?
First and foremost with a lot of organization and commitment. The basis is that work and family are enjoyable. Then comes a well-organized but flexible network of family and non-family care. And then you need a fair amount of acceptance for the unexpected and a willingness to put your own needs on the back burner now and then. In short, it’s about working in and as a team.

Awina is committed to improving the compatibility of work and family life by providing earmarked loans for daycare financing. But what does reconciliation actually look like in everyday life? In the series “Hey, Mama”, “Hey, Papa”, working parents talk openly about their experiences and challenges as working parents and give insight into how they personally reconcile children and career.