Quitting Work to be an Old Dad

After many months of thinking about it, planning what I would do and even trying to talk myself out of it, I finally quit my job. The great plan was that I could now spend more time with my young son. Why does anyone do something like that? Why did I do it?

The main reason was not to be the so called “stay at home dad” and prove that I could do that kind of thing etc.. Neither is it like many of the situations stay at home dad finds himself in – at least the ones I have read about online. Unlike many others, who appear to have lost their jobs for some reason and/or have a partner who is pulling in more money; the “main breadwinner” so to speak. I had a contract that could have run for at least another year with the possibility of an extension or moving onto a newer project and I am (or was) the higher earner by a considerable amount.

This was not some experiment either. Apart from not particularly liking my job (more on this later) I had been thinking about doing this since before he was born.

In reality the main reason was simple and so obvious. Time.

Time is the biggest factor. Biggest and very real. While Dani is only 2 years old I will be 52 in a few months. With almost 50 years between us I am indeed an old dad. It was now or never while the nipper was still nipping.

This is all about being able to spend as much time with Dani while I still can. Although he is technically in that stage people refer to as “the terrible twos” it is a great age. A good friend of mine said it best when he told me “You can’t buy that time back. No matter how much you earn”.

Dani was born in Spain and we live here in Madrid with his Spanish mother Beatriz. I wanted him to be able to see more of his family in the UK; to improve his English and form deep bonds at this crucial age.

In Spain they typically start full time school at 3 years old or to be more exact, if they are 3 years old in that calendar year then they start school in the September. As Dani was born in November this means that my son will be starting full time school before he is 3. This just seems crazy to me but it is considered normal here so I just need to get on with it and plan accordingly. The school search has already begun and looks like turning into a real saga. In a funny kind of way it is already proving too much for me. I went to a state comprehensive school and that was ok (well sort of); so that is my natural reaction. Defence even. It is hard work but I will soldier on… There will be posts about that to follow for sure. The reality check is this: We have less than a year’s worth of complete freedom before the school timetable kicks in.

Work for me is engineering. I have been a freelance contract engineer for more years than I care to remember now. On site and/or office based in just about every type of industry. In fact I am hoping that being away from my usual working environment may give me the inspiration to do something completely different.

Sometimes work could be enjoyable other times a real pain – the usual mixed bag I guess. If I do decide to go back to work then at least there is always a reasonable amount of that kind of work out there.

People choose to give up their work for various reasons but they also choose to remain in work for differing reasons too. In my case – and this is certainly true of many of my former colleagues – it was that comfort zone of being in an enviable position of earning a decent wage. Despite being in that position work can still get you down. The jobs seem to get worse each year – surely this must be an age thing, at least partly? Then there is all the additional garbage like Health & Safety, ever changing regulations and of course the politics… You can get into a real rut. But the money was always good, and that was the catch! A former colleague from an old project way back described it perfectly when he said “we are in the velvet rut”.

Well, finally I am out of that velvet rut and this is an interesting time so let’s see what this year brings. I have never been one for new year’s resolutions but this year is definitely already a bit different. A bit special.

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