Ever since Sienna’s arrival six months ago we have been overwhelmed by how many wonderful messages of congratulations we’ve received. Thank you.
Recently though, something has been cropping up in conversation that has really struck a chord with me. When people ask how old she is I answer accordingly, and then they’ll say: ‘So are you off work today?’ When I explain that both my wife and I work from home the response is always the same… ‘Oooh, you’re so lucky’.
I thought very little about this the first few times it happened. In fact I’d just smile and say ‘Yes’. However, after hearing the same response well over a dozen times now, I want to talk about this, because really there is little or no luck involved in it at all.
Being at home with my daughter is a choice, enabled by the way we designed how we wanted to work when she came along. A year ago I made a conscious decision to leave a ‘secure’ yet underwhelming career as a Civil Engineer to start a new chapter in my life. Beth and I both made sacrifices to create this set up. It has taken a lot of hard work, and we have taken many risks, to make it possible.
Back when we first got engaged we sat down together and discussed what would make us happy in the coming years. At that point children were just hypothetical, but even so we knew that we’d want to play a major part of their lives from the very beginning – both of us, not just their mother. Back then, I wasn’t enjoying my career and I was also aware that being tied to much longer hours than a 9-to-5 job, with a long commute on top, would steal a big chunk of my time with any children we might have. Not long after a decision was made. I would hand my notice in and start working with DWYL.
Even though I hadn’t been enjoying my career for some time it was still a big decision to make. We would lose my salary and we would be more dependent upon DWYL offering family security. We were just about to get married too, and I knew that if a baby came along, then more than ever, we’d be living in each other’s pockets. Of course we had no idea how it would work out, we just hoped that our time in Japan living in a postage stamp of an apartment would stand us in good stead.
And of course for Beth, once we were working together, her company stopped being about just creating a business, and started being about creating our future.
Even though it was a little risky I knew the greater risk was spending time doing something I didn’t love whilst missing out on experiencing something transient – the early years of a precious child. And however tough it was, that decision is vindicated every time I watch Sienna make a new and exciting discovery – not on a video my wife has emailed to me, but with my own eyes, because I am there. And I am there to see her face light up with wonder because of a series of conscious decisions, sometimes difficult choices, sacrifices and planning. We haven’t got it all figured out yet – like anyone else spinning plates we get tired, of course we do. But we are getting there, and it is not because of luck.
The choice to live and work this way has also been very interesting for Beth. Anyone who works for themselves when they have their first child will know that there is an inevitable impact on your productivity. (Beth would say that is an understatement…) At the same time you get a fair bit of notice that a baby is on the way, so we did what we could to plan for it (and we’re grateful to our wonderful collaborators for their understanding and support as we did that). The reality has probably been even tougher than we imagined, but it has worth every single moment.
A good friend of mine always said there was no such thing as luck. It is when opportunity meets preparation. I tend to agree. Taking the time to design the life you want is always going to improve your chances of things actually working out the way you want them to.
How would you like your life to look? What opportunities can you seize and how can you prepare yourself for them today?