Feb 25, 2009

Home-Dadding The Beginning - Jack's View

Thanks for all the enquiries about the Home-Dadding - The Beginning Series mentioned a few weeks ago.

As promised, over the next few months the NDG Dads will be telling us how the idea of staying home first presented itself. What were the circumstances? Were they happy, depressed, excited or shitting themselves in the early days, how this changed as time went on and whatever else they’d like to share.

The first NDG Dad to spill his guts is Jack. He's a top bloke old Jack. Has good knowledge on just about every subject and is always the first to break a sombre mood with a good quality Dad joke. Jack was the first to complete this course and get the rest of us on to it -

Jack's View

Well, before we had our children, my wife and I had decided that the best arrangement for us would be that we both work part time, and share the care of our kids. That was easy enough for my wife, who is a high-flyer for a blue-chip type company with an enlightened attitude towards parental leave and part-time work, but we knew that it would be a hard ask in my field of work, which is not typically family-friendly.

So around the time my first daughter was one year old, I quit my job as an architect for an established design firm and set up an office of my own in a shed in our back yard - the realisation of a life-long dream, at a manageable scale (at least to begin with).

I now work part-time for the employer who has the best understanding of my children’s needs, and the most flexible attitude towards the hours I work and the time I spend with my kids - myself.

My wife and I share the care of our daughters, with a small amount of outside child care every week. When I am at work, I’m only a few steps from the back door, and well within the range of the baby monitor. I can watch the nappies swing on the clothes line from my drawing board, and stop work at any time to take my eldest to the pool or cuddle my youngest. When I turn off the computer and shut the shed door, my time is my girls’.

My earnings have dropped to chicken feed levels, but my new job has some huge advantages that a more ‘traditional’ arrangement wouldn’t have. Besides the extra time with my kids, I get to keep my skills active and grow my business slowly – a few projects at a time, with the option to devote more time to it when the girls get older.

The new routine takes some discipline – I had to learn to respect the divide between work time and child time (my first afternoon juggling a child over a keyboard taught me that). We also couldn’t have made this arrangement work without at least 2 part-days per week of good quality outside child care for our eldest – with its advantages of social interaction and broader experience, and its disadvantages of childcare bugs and occasional difficult days.

There are some times where juggling the demands of two young children and a small business can be exhausting. But would I go back? Never.

Check out Jack's energy efficiency blog - www.diagramarchitects.com.au/blog .

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