We spoke to recent dad Michael James who shared with us his experience and how life has changed for him and his family.
Michael James, Director, IELTS Operations – “My partner and I had 2019 travel plans that fell apart, and we decided to start a family instead! The baby came quickly, and everything went very well. I took a mix of parental leave and annual leave, to stay home with my partner and my son Lochie, before returning to work. Having the time off really made a difference, I’m not sure how we would have survived otherwise.
We don’t have other family in Melbourne, so it was a struggle. When Lochie was 6 months old, we moved to New Zealand for 4 months, to be with my family for support. I was fortunate that IDP gave me the flexibility to work from there remotely. While in NZ, we found out we were having a second child! It was exciting, and worrying, to have the 2 kids so close. We moved back to Melbourne to have the baby.
Unfortunately, there were complications and our second son Xander, was born 11 weeks premature and my partner needed surgery. I was able to arrange extra leave to look after Lochie while my partner and baby were still in hospital. I really enjoyed having the time to look after him – it was a lovely bonding experience.
Xander came home after 10 weeks but has been back in hospital in ICU with respiratory problems. We are confident that with technology, medicine, and hospital care, Xander will be home with us soon.
I went into parenting knowing it would be difficult, but when things go poorly, it’s even harder. I’ve been able to flex my work to stay home with Lochie some mornings while my partner goes to the hospital to see Xander. I have the ability to make up the time later in the day. Working from home also provides the opportunity to support my partner for many things, including the simple things like showering and having a break.
As a manager, I support my team with their caring responsibilities by getting to understand the impact of kids and families on their work and life. I make sure the team stay connected and that there is a transition plan. I must admit I did overlook the fathers a bit, but I am a lot more aware now. We have new ways of working, new habits, and technology that allows us to work remotely from anywhere (including the park)!
To keep my mind and body healthy I run, and exercise, and do some binge TV watching. It helps.”
Thank you, Michael. We wish your family all the best.