When you find yourself jealous of the bond between your nanny and your kids, it may be time to consider a career shift...
A few years ago, when I was juggling being new to fatherhood with a corporate 9-5 gig, I heard an interview with dad-of-three and author Peter FitzSimons on Mia Freedman’s podcast, No Filter.
He chatted about a whole host of things. But what made a big impact on me was the explanation he gave his employers when he quit radio, a job he loved, so that his wife (TV presenter Lisa Wilkinson) could focus on her own career in breakfast television:
“We have discovered that a family can cope with having two parents out of bed at 3:30 am, but it cannot flourish. And we as a family, through no fault of our kids, were coping, but not flourishing.”
“Coping, but not flourishing.”
Those words resonated with me. They summed up perfectly how my wife and I (jointly) reached the decision for me to step away from a promising career to stay at home with our children. With both of us working full-time, we were coping. Just. But we sure as hell weren’t flourishing.
With two young children, and both my wife and I working full-time in demanding jobs, we were ‘domestic outsourcers’. We constantly rushed from one thing to the next, planning, organising and delegating on the fly. A lot of our time was spent negotiating with each other on a daily basis to determine who was responsible for which domestic duty.
But late last year, the winds of change started to blow. My wife was offered an opportunity to advance her career in a new but demanding role. At the same time, my own career was becoming more full-on, and I was feeling hopelessly pulled in multiple directions.
Something’s gotta give
The final straw came when I attended my son’s end-of-year celebration at kindy, which included a dance routine and a skipping display. When it came to my son’s turn, our beloved nanny leaned over and whispered in my ear: “He’d better get this right because we’ve been practicing every day for the last six weeks!”
I was shocked. I had no idea that he had been learning how to skip. Let alone that our nanny had been putting in dedicated practice sessions with him after school every day while we were at work.
While I’m pleased to report that he skipped like a boss that day, sadly, it had nothing to do with me. At that moment, I felt like a complete failure as a parent. I had outsourced my own son’s skipping lessons! And just like that, the decision was made.
A decision that would change our entire approach to parenting and work / life balance.
Fast forward nine months
I’m now nine months into my new role as a stay-at-home-dad (SAHD).
My wife’s career continues to thrive. She now has the time and head space to establish herself as a true leader in her business. Meanwhile, I’ve had time to develop and grow as a human being in ways I never could’ve imagined.
My five-year-old son is loving school and I’m there every single day to witness his achievements. While my two-year-old daughter and I have forged a tight and enduring bond that we otherwise would not have had.
Most importantly, despite the sometimes chaos that comes with being a stay at home parent, I can honestly say that we, as a family, are now flourishing.
And in case you were wondering, under the watchful eye of my son, my skipping is coming along nicely too.