Quitting my amazing job to look after my baby boy is the best lesson about humility

Sten
6 min readJan 16, 2017

I swear now that I’m going to get better at blogging. But before getting into this, let’s roll back a little.

A year and a half ago I wrote about my soon-to-be-father experience as my partner N. (now wife!) was pregnant with our first child. Basically her pregnancy didn’t affect my personal life or job that much whereas her life took a dramatic turn. Career, opportunities, body, diet, rhythm, health… Everything was changing at an alarming pace on her side and I started to realise how unfair our respective situations were. I felt the need to write it down to make sure that I’d remember, but also to see if it could help others, even a tiny bit.

Roughly a year later I published my second post as I was going through the learnings of fatherhood. At the time of publishing I thought that it’d be the start of a more regular series of stories and thoughts but, while I came up with a better way to prioritise my work, I never really managed to find the time to write more.

So here we are now. My son T. is now 1 year old, I’ve left the company I worked for and we’re about to move to Portugal in less than a month with no concrete plan other than trying out different ways to mix being parents and helping our son to grow, having our own personal projects and initiatives and finding our time as a couple too.

The triangle of me next year. How do you find the right balance?

Alright… Let’s get back to this post

It’s going to be the usual deal. Please do not expect a grandiose conclusion or great discovery here. It’s more a way for me to keep notes of what’s happening and hoping that perhaps along the way some people can relate. It’s also because I love applying diagrams to all sorts of things.

Update 1: I quit my job

From July 2011 to December last year I worked for Atlassian as a Product Manager, one of the best company you could be with (they’ve been in top 5 places to work in Australia all the years I worked for them — apart from 2012 where they ranked #9). I got to do there some of the best work of my life, thinking about the future of collaboration with a big emphasis on developer tools. Basically I was paid to do what I love doing and the work/life balance culture allowed me to squeeze a surf in the morning before going to work as well as taking some time at lunch to go play football or basketball with colleagues.

And I left this place.

I did not leave because I was fed up with work, or because of a better offer somewhere. Actually I resigned a year in advance, telling my manager in December 2015 that 2016 would be my last year. I just became a dad and with it came the realisation that I needed to do some drastic changes to bring back a better balance between me and my wife. Leaving work was a way to reset things in my new tiny family so that we could then decide how to best approach the future. If you’re wondering why I didn’t leave right away it’s because I was still committed to my mission and there were 3 things I wanted to achieve in the upcoming 12 months to feel like I did my job right, without letting my team and my customers down. I’m really thankful for N.’s patience as during those 12 months she looked after our son week after week while I was doing my best to be a good helper on the weekend.

It’s been now almost a month that I’m no longer working full-time at Atlassian and it just started to feel real last week, as opposed to being like yet another vacation.

Update 2: we’re moving to Lisbon

N., T. and azulejos in Lisbon

In a little less than a month we’ll be moving from Sydney to Lisbon to kick start this new adventure. There are many factors playing in that decision, some that may not be intuitive as we just had our first baby, but essentially it’s a great way to reset both our situations to some common grounds: we’re both going to a place that is new for us, both will start without full time jobs, both are currently looking after our baby. Plus Lisbon seems to be a pretty cool place with a lot of buzz going on.

This is a big move coupled with the new changes in our family dynamic and there are a few things that I’ve found interesting. I would use the world challenges but I fear that it would be interpreted as something negative while I really felt like I’ve grown through these experiences.

Top 3 lessons from going through updates 1 & 2

I need to be humble in my learnings

This is something that I realised for the first time 6 months ago during my paternity leave. All of a sudden I was there to help with T. and I thought what a hero I was for being there 24/7 to help with a little one. I was doing my best to show that I was a modern dad great at handling a 6 months old baby routine: packing some of his clothes, enquiring about his food, checking he didn’t need a nappy change, stressing about his well-being.

But boy, I was actually making things worse.

Basically she went from having a great routine that worked well to having to teach a beginner who thought he knew it all (me) aka the worst kind of student. My pride as a father was getting in the way of accepting that I didn’t know much about what T.’s day were like, what sound he’d make for which need, etc. I’m his father so I know what he needs— or so I thought. This was obviously very bad logic driven by sentiment and it took me some time to learn how to shut up and listen, even when I had good intuition.

Shared parenting needs defined role

Another thing that we quickly realised is that it’s easier to look after our son by having specific tasks to do. At the moment we’re alternating the days which makes that distribution of roles really easy but when we’re both looking after him it makes things much simpler to have one person in charge of clothes and baby bag, and one in charge of food, water, snacks.

As I tend to make analogies with work quite often it feels very similar to dividing tasks on a project and assigning them to different people. Their solution to the problem might be slightly different but they both works. However if you got those 2 people to work at the same time on the exact same task it might result in more friction as they would argue on petty details that may not matter for the end result.

Just because I don’t work doesn’t mean I understand

I’m slowly getting a better understanding of what my wife’s world has been the past 12 months. I’m very cautious to use the word better here because there’s still much to experience to get a good understanding of it. Let’s not forget that things started actually 24 months ago for her at the very time we decided that we would try having a baby.

I have a lot of catch-up to do and this blog is helping me realise that.

See you later for the next one.

I’m really excited about this adventure — it gives me moments like this!

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