Welcome to “How I Stay Sane,” a weekly column where real dads talk about the things they do for themselves that help them keep grounded in all the other areas of their life — especially the parenting part. It’s easy to feel strung-out as a parent, but the dads we feature all recognize that, unless they regularly take care of themselves, the parenting part of their life will get a lot harder. The benefits of having that one “thing” are enormous. For John Tabis, 41, a dad of three, founder of the online flower delivery service Bouqs, riding his longboard to work is both a call to simpler times and a way to transform his commute into something he enjoys.
Skating was a big part of my childhood. I grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania, the middle of nowhere. When I was about six or seven, skateboarding hit the town I grew up in. I started doing it then with all the neighborhood kids and kept with it through elementary school and junior high.
I got back into it when I moved to Venice Beach. They had a great culture there and there was this great little shop called the Arbor Skateboards. It’s right on the water, on Washington Boulevard. I popped in one day and I just loved their boards.
I asked my wife for a longboard for my birthday. I felt like I was 13 years old again. I told her there was this awesome shop down the street, that I’d love to have a longboard to get around town and to get to work. I think it was probably around a year after I founded Bouqs that she got that for me for my birthday. I’ve been using it ever since.
I’ve always loved toys, skateboards, and electric scooters. I have a beach cruiser as well. If I lived in a place where I could use it, I’d have a dune buggy. It’s fun to go fast. It’s fun to be outside. It’s fun to go on adventures on those things. And for me, with my busy schedule, an adult toy is such an easy way for me to feel like I’m having a good time to and from work.
Before I started the company, I had an hour to hour-and-a-half commute from Venice to Burbank, where I worked at Disney. After starting the company, I only had a mile and a half to travel. I thought that getting on a longboard would be great. I have three young kids, so I don’t have a lot of free time. Making my commute something that’s enjoyable was an easy win.
I probably get on my board one to two times a week. I vary between my longboard and this fun scooter I have. I broke my foot about three months ago — not longboarding, totally unrelated — but I’ve just been on the scooter a lot more for that reason. But I should get cleared by my doctor soon.
Being in a car feels constricting at this point. I have so much freedom when I’m on my longboard. I can bob and weave in and out of traffic, on different streets, in bike lanes, in different neighborhoods. In a car, especially in gridlock, you really can’t appreciate that.
When I ride, I’m not restricted in any way. I take a bunch of different routes on the way to work. Sometimes I go through the marina and ride past the water in the morning. Sometimes I’ll go through Venice with my son when he’s on his three-wheel razor scooter and I’m on my board and we ride to school together.
It’s engaging in a way, too, in my commute. I’m not just getting to and from the office or one location to another. I’m actively engaged in the process. It becomes a break, but it’s built into something that’s productive: commuting. Between being a dad and running a company, it’s not possible to find an hour to go ride somewhere. So having those moments — 15, 25 minutes — to just enjoy the ride, that’s just a nice break.