I have just finished 15 weeks of full paid parental leave. Yesterday, I returned to work.
My employer, PwC Australia gave me the opportunity to stay at home for over 3 months to look after my 6-9 month old son as my wife returned to part-time work, whilst I remained on full pay.
I started out thinking of all the wonderful things I was going to do with this “time off” that normal life doesn’t permit. Netflix bingeing, lowering the golf handicap, cooking new recipes, further study, actually reading a book, general life admin…
Aside from a bit of general life admin, I wasn’t too successful in achieving any of the above. Why? A little guy called Charlie. We didn’t do a lot, but we did a heap. Some days we explored the great outdoors, some days we didn’t even leave the house. We played, we smiled, we laughed and we cried. Together we had an absolute ball.
I have watched my son grow and develop first hand. I saw the good days and the bad. I have experienced the ups and downs and everything in between. Together we survived and then we thrived.
I know looking after a baby is not easy, but I know how to do it. Not until I was thrown in the deep end on my own did I really learn. Some days we did it all; eating, sleeping, washing, cleaning, playing, outings, shopping and dinner on the table at the end of the day. Some days it just didn’t go to plan.
Thanks to this “time off”, I’m now a better dad, better husband and now know how to maintain a better work life balance for myself and my teams. So thank you PwC and all the other companies that offer similar opportunities for dads to actually be dads. We need more progressive companies like this in Australia.
The first year of being a new parent is probably the biggest game changer most people will ever experience. Your world is turned upside down and the unexpected expenses just keep coming. Financially for our family it wasn’t an option to take unpaid leave for this period and to be honest wouldn’t have even been considered.
Gone are the days where it’s mum that automatically stays home and looks after the kids. My wife loves her career and loves being a mum. Having me at home for the past 3 months has been the perfect transition for her getting back to work and she has absolutely loved having me at home and the support I have been able to provide.
As for returning to work, I’m ready. I’m re-energised and excited to leverage my new skill set and experiences. I’m more patient, organised and compassionate and I know I’ve got it covered the next time someone spits the dummy. I have new feathers in my cap, and as repayment to my employer for the last few months, I’ll be better at my job for it.
Whilst it’s probably impossible to ever know if this past few months will have an impact on my son’s life, I know it has had a massive impact on mine.
My point. If you are Dad that is lucky enough to work for a company that offers this opportunity – take it! You won’t regret it. If you’re a company that is thinking about introducing this offering to your employees – do it, you will reap the benefits in the long term.
Jack Bell is a Manager at PwC. With his bachelor of engineering (civil); Jack worked across construction, operations and logistics before transitioning into consulting where his project delivery and stakeholder management experience has contributed to client success across multiple projects and industries.
Jack is a sports enthusiast who has decided to give contact sport away after a recent injury requiring a knee reconstruction. He is however desperate to get back into golf, tennis and skiing (both water and snow) when he has completed the 12 months of rehab. A love of travel and adventure have driven Jack to live out of a back pack for 6 months on two separate occasions to explore both Europe and the Americas. This same love has found Jack working in London (UK), Whistler (Canada) and outback Australia, other than his home town of Melbourne. Jack’s most recent adventure and biggest thrill to date has been that of becoming a father and starting a family with his wife.