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PAUL OLIMA. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
A SOCIAL MEDIA SENSATION, AUTHOR, SPORTSMAN, TRAINER & ACTOR; PAUL OLIMA EXCELS IN MANY ROLES, BUT HOW HAS HE FOUND HIS MOST IMPORTANT ROLE SO FAR…AS A DAD TO TWO DAUGHTERS.
Since embracing his natural comic ability Paul Olima, has gained the attention of over 590k followers, tuning in daily to enjoy his ‘weird shit’ (Paul’s humorous analogy of his original sketch’s) The 34 year old Instagram sensation is a single dad of two daughters – aged 12 and 3 years old. He is sportsman, trainer, author, and actor. All in all, Paul is a successful man of many talents, but life has not been without its challenges and Paul is constantly looking for ways to improve both in terms of personal and emotional development. It is very clear that Paul absolutely adores his girls and revels in his role as a dad. “I feel as though I have no purpose when they’re not around. Even when I go on holiday with my mates, they will go for a week and I will go for three days max. I just get bored after a bit. I want to get home and play with my kids. I just feel like I have something missing, you know.” We sat down with Paul in his London home to discuss the journey that fatherhood has taken him on so far and how he juggles being such a doting dad to his daughters, whilst managing his ever-growing successful career.
What do you is find the hardest part about juggling working and being a father?
“I’m a co-parent with her mum – so I do 50/50. But when I have my daughter, I put everything second to her. I’m lucky that she goes to nursery, Monday to Friday anyway, so that means I have 9-5 to do my work. Even days like today, when it’s my day to pick her up, I’ve got to get my work done and everything so it can be tiring by the end of the day, but she’s 3 now, nearly 4, so she’s lots of fun so I’m still looking forward to going picking her up.”
So, after you’ve picked your daughter up, as you’re self-employed how do manage the enquiries etc that you may get through once she’s back home with you?
“Well, I’m terrible, because I will put my do not disturb on. And I don’t like accepting work that will impact on my time with her, but obviously sometimes you can’t turn it down. Like last night I had a big job that I really couldn’t say no to, so I got a childminder to look after her – and she’s great – but I wasn’t home until 10pm so I felt like I wasn’t doing my job as a dad because I hadn’t read her a bedtime story. I feel like being a dad is a duty and I hate not doing my duty.
I have a 12-year-old daughter, who I had when I was 22 and I when I split up from her mother, I didn’t do my duties – as she moved to Derby, and I lived in London. I was playing football at the time, and it was a bit of nightmare trying to get up there to spend time with her. I just remember feeling like fourth choice for my daughter, as she was close to her grandparents as well. It was just the most horrible feeling. She lives closer to me now though, which is great! I can have her at weekends or pick her up from school, but as she’s 12 now so she doesn’t always want to come now, as she wants to be with her friends instead!” he laughs. “So, I’m like ok cool but that’s definitely impacted how much time I want to spend with my 3-year-old – as I want to be number 1!” he laughs.
“I know a lot of people don’t feel like they have a lot of time, but 9-5 is a lot of time to do what you need to do – if you’re productive and if they are in Nursery – as I know a lot of people don’t have that. I feel like it’s enough time for me to don my wigs and make weird videos!” we all laugh. I know that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do 100% of the time, if I wasn’t co-parenting. Obviously if she was with me full time it would be a lot harder, as it’s on the days that she’s not with me that I have my down time and I get to replenish.”
PAUL OLIMA. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
Is putting ‘do not disturb on’ hard? Does it ever cause you any anxiety, that you may miss an important email or work opportunity?
“I’m very lucky because now I’m at the stage where I have a team that help me. So, I feel like I’m winning in that respect. Once you get to that stage, those worries aren’t there like they were in the early days of being self-employed. Now I have a management team, VA, PA, social media assistant you know – I have a full team around me, so I can turn off my phone and I know that they will pick stuff up. If are self-employed and you can afford to get assistance, then do. However, even up until around a year ago, when I wasn’t at this stage, I would still try and switch off at certain times. You can always get to a message; I feel like people don’t always need a reply straight away. It’s easier to step back when you’ve not got notifications popping up. Society has gone a bit crazy expecting people to be accessible 24/7. I read a book recently – Carl Newport – Deep Work – and it’s brilliant! It’s about time boxing and how to use your time perfectly. So, like today I’ll be writing my scripts or ‘skits’, and I have to go into my little ‘weird state’ to write them, but then if my phone goes that pulls you out of the ‘weird’ space or rather my creative zone I should say! he laughs. “People presume I’m on social media all the time because of what I do, but I’m not. Most of time I’ll post, then I’ll reply for about half an hour, or so, and then put my phone away. My mates will be like, ‘Did you see that story I did?’ and I’ll be like no!”
Self-care is obviously very important to you, what do you do to maintain that?
“I listen to classical music in the car to keep myself calm. Upskill myself and just to become a better friend. I’ve just found jujitsu, and I’ll be doing that until the day I die. It makes me feel good about myself, so yes, a lot of what I do in my spare time is all about self-care. I put my children first, then its me. Even if my mum rings me and I’m not in the best mood, I won’t answer. Sometimes you have to go, ‘I’m sorry, I just need a minute to myself.’ You need to think to yourself how are you feeling right now? Are you ready for this conversation?”
What has been the biggest change within yourself that has come from being a parent?
“When I was growing up in Dublin, I was like the only black person the other kids had ever seen and I was always having to fight. It was horrible and so I was really quite an angry person. I really wasn’t a nice person. But then when football brought me to London, things started to change and I had a chance to escape that, but underneath I was still angry. So I’ve always tried to find things to help me and that’s usually been through sport. When I had my first child and she was a girl, I never realised girls had it bad before that. But as soon as I had her, it was like my eyes opened to females and how life was for them. I started to notice things that I’d never noticed before. I remember not long after she was born, I noticed a young girl going through the park on her own and I couldn’t understand what was going on in me as I became really worried about her. Or like if a girl is walking down the street and there’s three builders shouting stuff at her it makes me angry.
It’s like I hate men now you know!” he laughs. “If I’m honest if I would have had a boy, I’m not sure much would have changed in that way. With my first I really wanted a boy, you a know a little bruiser a little ‘mini me’ and I was a bit taken aback that she was a girl but now if ended up with 6 girls I’d be over the moon!”
What does the future look like for you family wise and your career?
“I want 4 more but I want to be married first – so I can be a better Dad. I love watching my girls together, my heart just goes! I’ve just filmed my first acting job actually, which is out this month on ITV2. So, it’s Hollywood next!” he laughs. “I just want to keep creating content and growing on what I’m already doing, you know?”
Do you have any tips for any other single dads out there trying to build their business?
“If you’re a single dad, just try and be steps ahead, it’s not easy but if you’re prepared and organised it really helps.”
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