Choosing The Right Path

Have you ever had one of those life-changing decisions to make? A decision where there is no right or wrong answer, but the path you choose will define your life, at least in the medium-term? Well that’s something we’re having to toy with at the moment.

The beginning seems a good place to start…

After five-years working in the high-pressured, long-hours world of management consultancy, I’d lost my motivation and needed a change. After a few interviews with similar companies, I decided consultancy was no longer for me. Neither was commuting or spending time away from home anymore. I’d often leave early on a Monday and not come back until late on a Friday, taking in the wonders of places like Chatham, Reading and Hastings in the process!

I went back to basics and tried to figure out what I was passionate about. This led me to sports, particularly football. I somehow managed to find a job in football that was willing to pay me the same wage for working just 10-minutes from my house. I handed in my notice and started my new job. Not wanting to go into too much detail, but the concept was good but the delivery was poor. The MD didn’t have a clue and the majority of other employees were not interested in football and didn’t have the required skills.

It soon became clear that the company was in financial trouble too and that it was too late for me to help turn the fortunes around. This eventually led to a failure to pay wages to staff and me taking the decision to hand in my notice after becoming disillusioned with the MD’s incompetence. This was just over a year ago. I spent the next few months looking for a job whilst bringing in a bit of money here and there through various bits of freelance work. I managed to get an interview in December with a sports research company, a second interview in January and was offered the job with them the other day.

With a baby on the way, do I take the job which guarantees a salary and other benefits to ensure the family is supported financially, at the detriment of commuting over two hours each day and spending less time with my new family. Or do I turn down the job to continue my freelance career, which doesn’t guarantee and income, but means I can be at home with the wife and sprog when it comes along.

This is the crux of the predicament. Without a crystal ball, how do you know what is the right or wrong thing to do? When you’re at a junction, which path do you follow when both directions look appealing but for different reasons? I guess this is the life of an adult and something that is only going to intensify when I’m a parent.

After much discussion and soul searching, we decided to go with the latter. I turned down the job to be able to spend time with the family and then take over the stay-at-home parenting reigns after Hay has finished maternity leave. We’re luckily in a position where we’ve been able to save a bit of money, so if I struggle to get paid, or during the maternity period when Hay is on a reduced salary, we should (just) be able to cover bills and mortgage then have savings as a backup.

Following maternity leave, as Hay gets a bonus for returning, is on a better salary than me and works 20 minutes away, it makes sense  for me to be a stay-at-home dad (or SAHD, I’ve just learnt!). I can then look after the kid and dog whilst working from home writing football and betting content in the down-time. Or at least that’s the theory!

So is there anything I’ve garnered from this experience?

Communication is key:  It may sound simple, but being open and honest with your better half is vital. If you don’t share and talk things though as a couple and as a family, how can you know that your decisions are in the best interests of everyone? Sometimes there will be disagreements and differences in opinion too – that is where communication becomes even more vital to ensure a solution can be worked through. Talk, talk and talk some more.

Money isn’t everything:  Bills need to be paid and food needs to be bought. There’s no getting around that. But, money doesn’t need to be the be all and end all. For some people, it is. For us, it isn’t. We obviously want to be able to live a comfortable life and give the kids everything they want (within reason), but the most important thing for us is having two parents around who can share both the hard and fun times of raising a kid.

There’s not always a right or wrong answer:  Life is easier when we look at things as good or bad, black or white and right or wrong. However, in most situations there isn’t a definitive answer. You just need to figure out and decide on what choice you wish to make having taken all of the different factors into account.

Only time will tell as to whether the decision we have made is the best option. For us, we think it is.

Have you had any experiences of making life-changing decisions? How did you decide on what was the best path to go down? Are you a stay-at-home dad? How did you make the decision to stay at home with the kid(s) whilst the missus went back to work?