Work-Life Balance, How My Boy Forced Me To Have One

  • Posted by: Shaun

Genesis

When I first found out that I was going to become a Father, I freaked. I’m man enough to admit it. At 23-years old, I wasn’t married, and I was still trying to answer what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up.’

As the pregnancy progressed, preparations were made, things were bought and priorities shifted. I felt a change within myself. A shift from a boy into a Man. A man that suddenly realised a catalogue of aspects that he wasn’t freaking about! How do you be a Dad, how do you change a nappy, how do you even hold a baby?! I can’t even iron! The last thing I was thinking about was a work-life balance – whatever the heck that was!

I felt a change within myself. A shift from a boy into a Man.

Well, fast forward a few years and I’m proud to report that not only can I iron, I make a point of doing so every Sunday afternoon! His Mother and I are no longer together, we’re walking our own paths, co-parenting. In his 5-years so far, I’ve made mistakes, we all have. If you say you haven’t – you have – don’t let Instagram lie to you. Overall, however, I feel I’ve done a pretty good job at it. Boy is an amazing 5-year old, who constantly surprises me with his charm, humour, kindness, intelligence. More often than not, his compassion and caring nature leave me speechless.

Future

I’ve said time and time again that I want to be able to retire at 45 and actually do it at 50. Regardless of my level of success, I’ll never be able to do this. Like many, my Father and I share in the inability to remain complacent, or even get there! He retired from his role as one of NSW’s finest while I was still in high school, and has continued to work through to this day! Ask anyone who knows me, for the longest time, I’ve been dreaming. It’s my nature. I’ve always been drawn to success. I’ve always thought that I could achieve something great professionally. Entering the world of Corporate IT and Technology made saw that I was shown some amazing Men and Women. Men and Women that have done great things and made fantastic lives for themselves.

Working on Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches, it’s becoming disturbingly more common to be surrounded by Austin Martin, Porsche, AMG Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari’s every day. I sometimes long for the drone of a classic VN Holden Commodore! I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of Keeping up with the Joneses hidden somewhere in my pursuit of success.

Work-Life Balance

Around this time last year, a friend that the time mentioned something to me about the work-life balance. As I had, thousands of times before when I’d heard it, thought to myself what a giant mess of millennial bullsh*t (ironic, because now I am one). When you become an adult, you work. You work as hard as you possibly can – that’s the only way success and fortune are delivered, right?

When you become an adult, you work.

I then remembered a time, early in Boy’s life when he was between 8-months and 1.5-years old. I was working for a technology company based in Alexandria, NSW and He, his Mother and I were living in a home in Sydney’s South West with two friends. We lived there for 6-months and I have about 5-7 hours worth of memories from that time. Every chance that I could, I was home in time to feed him, bathe him and send him off to bed. More often than not, however, I was gone before dawn and back well after his 7 PM bedtime.

Throughout this time, his Mother would send me video’s, pictures and many FaceTime calls a day to see him and ensure he remembered who I was. This was great. However, I was missing some important, great times with him. Alas, hindsight offers 20/20 vision and the only view you get is the forest whereas living it, you only saw the trees.

So, at the completion of this trip down memory lane, I decided to do something about it, I was a Dad in the new century, I could be different, I could have my cake and eat it as well!

Solution

I was working for a unique technology business in Frenchs Forest, NSW. They’re not quite an MSP, but not just a consultancy. The owner and I possess a great relationship – and I, a good understanding of what was asked of me. We spoke, we planned and then we came up with the agreement that on the weeks where I have custody, I’d work from home and weeks I didn’t, I’d be in the office.

This changed enabled me to effortlessly wake up with him in the morning. Daily, I make his breakfast, his lunch and watch cartoons in the morning. Something that I never imagined would be as important to me as it is, I also get to do – school pick-ups. There’s something about leaving the most important person in your world. Even for a few hours. Then seeing their face light up as they see you again that cannot be explained. If you’ve not felt that feeling, I have genuine pity for you. I am able to now pay full attention to him, his day and who did what in class.

If you’ve not felt that feeling, I have genuine pity for you.

Now that I can spend so much time with him and really be present in his life hasn’t diminished my desire or drive toward success – if anything it’s increased it 10 fold! I now want to be able to give him everything he wants and needs. The difference is, I’ve now got to find a way to do it while still being there!

Handling It

One of the biggest challenges I face personally and professionally is stress management. It usually takes me a while to get stressed, but when I do, oh boy! As you can imagine, smashing an 8-hour day into 6-hours does come with it’s added chaos. I’ve found that meditation is something that’s quick, effective and really simple to do.

Being an aforementioned millennial, I haven’t gone to an expert, a clinic, a retreat – but instead, the Google Play Store! This is, in no way, an affiliate post or plug, but I have found Headspace to be an amazing gift sent from all the Gods of the world. Envisage if you will, the diety clubhouse, all the favourites are there and they begin discussing the best ways for their followers to relax. Out of that conversation, an app-idea was created. Well, Headspace is the fruit of their labour. If your mind is cluttered or you simply need to chill out a little, please, head on over and grab it!

At this point in time, I think my work-life balance is pretty damn close to 50/50 and I couldn’t think of a better way to be heading into my thirties **shudders**. If you’ve got the determination, guts and the will to do it – there’s no reason that you can’t inject just as much family time into the calendar as work time. If I can do it, so can you!

Author: Shaun
Shaun's been in the industry for over 10 years. He's passionate, strange and dedicated to connecting the best of the Innovation Age to your business and goals - without the marketing spin!