Anyone that knows me understands that Family will always be my number one priority. There is nothing that I love more than walking into my home after a days work and having my six year old daughter, Charlotte, run to me to give me a big kiss and cuddle. Bowling her over along the way, is my dog (cocker-cavalier), Wilfred with a ball in his mouth, trying to get to me first!!!!
The Emotional Connection
It was just over six years ago that my life changed forever with the birth of our beautiful daughter. Leading up to the birth some of my mates at the cricket club, (who had already experienced fatherhood), told me it was the best feeling in the world. I didn’t know how to feel as I was so excited with what they were saying, but that real emotion hadn’t hit me yet because I hadn’t experienced it. On the night of the birth I understood exactly what they were saying; holding my daughter in my arms for the first time and experiencing the emotion and superhero effort that my wife had been through, was emotion at its highest.
No Contribution is too Big or too Small
Bringing my daughter home for the first time, working out a plan and a structure that worked for us and changing this along the way was a great adventure. One thing that I, as a dad, wanted to be responsible for was to give my little angel a bath every night. This gave me quality time with our newborn daughter and although it was very minor, it allowed my wife to rest for 15-20 minutes. This memory will remain with me for the rest of my life, I can still smell the baby shampoo (that we used on her head full of spiky hair, every time I think of this moment).
The last six years have been the best in my life. Watching those first steps, the first words, seeing her experiment and express herself whilst finding her individuality, are everlasting memories. Reflecting on this now, I am starting to ponder on how my wife and I have performed such a great job in raising a human being. We had no idea what we were getting into, there are no books on how to be the perfect parent and there are definitely thousands of opinions from others who have been there before on “how to do it right”. TEAMWORK was the key to how we coped well. In saying that I feel that my contribution to this teamwork was less than 20% and my wife was a superhero who knew how to automate everything. I soon learned it was the little things I did that made a difference around the house – pulling out the vacuum cleaner, making dinner or making a cup of coffee for my wife. This didn’t happen every day or every night, I am quite a realist in understanding how much my wife actually does for our family, it was understanding when and what to do and how it made a difference when it was unexpected.
Give Credit where Credit is Due
My wife returned to work after 8 months for 3 days per week and I was working 5 days per week as well. For the first 3 years we had the full support of my parents who “loved” having Charlotte during the day – sometimes it was difficult to get Charlotte back off them of an evening. My wife was, and still is an inspiration – preparing meals throughout the day for Charlotte, packing all of her favourite toys (everything but the kitchen sink) and to this day I still don’t understand how Shannon (my wife) knew where all of her toys were? It’s like my wife had this magic list implanted in her brain – the texta’s are in the third drawer, her teddy is under her bed, the blanket is in the cupboard upstairs and her socks are hanging on the line………what???
Share the Load
After the age of 3 it was a little easier, my daughter attended day care and then kindergarten. We still had to arrange for times to pick her up and drop her off so my wife and I would take it in turns, once again with the help of my parents. I jumped at the chance to pick her up after kinder as this is where little conversations started to take place. What did you do today? Who did you play with? What did you have for lunch? All of this information I wanted to know about immediately and loved hearing it from my own daughter.
We are now at the stage of Charlotte’s first year of school – Grade Prep, new memories! Trying on her school uniform for the first time, taking her into school for her first day and more recently dropping Charlotte off using the kiss and drop zone at school. My daughter no longer needs us to walk her into the classroom, a kiss whilst we are in the car park has become the normal now. My wife has returned to work 4 days per week and once again is an absolute superhero with everything that needs to be prepared. Brain food needs to be prepared, morning snack, lunch, having her readers, knowing what day it is (library day, music) etc, etc, etc…….the list goes on.
Balancing Work and Family
Personally I am very fortunate, I work in an environment that allows me to drop my daughter off at school most days and then also able to pick her up from school once a week. I have been able to fit into a life where I now have a great work life balance and I am very grateful to my current employer for this. In my previous role for 8 years I was working in the home office every night when I returned home and at times this could be until midnight. I knew things needed to change when my daughter was sitting in our home office with her toy laptop, not coming down for dinner as she was “still working”, this really hit home. Is this my daughter’s perception of me – work comes first before our family dinner? This had to change!!! In my current role the demand is still there, however I have been able to manage my day so that I am working smarter and not harder. My week is planned out in my outlook calendar and I maintain the philosophy of not to burn myself out in any given day, hence I return to work the next morning fresh and more productive. I realised that if I was to continue along the path of the past 8 years then I am negatively impacting my quality of life – my daughter was growing up and I didn’t want to miss this, I will never get this time back. I have found I am now able to relax a lot more of an evening, spend time with my daughter before she goes to bed and then spend quality time with my wife afterwards.
I am very thankful for everything my wife Shannon does for this family and we would not be in a position we are today without the close support of my parents, family and friends. Our home is full of love and we have many more incredible memories to make along the journey.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT & BUSINESS RELATIONS
This guy is full of ideas, he is passionate about supporting women and gets so excited over new and creative ideas around employment strategies. Matt has worked over 9 years in the employment industry and loves to see people reach their full potential.