For the 4th time in my 13 years in the corporate world, I broke up with my employer. Yikes, this is REAL. I told my boss this week that I am leaving my company, an organization consistently rated as one of the top employers. I am walking away from my 6 figure salary, and jumping into the world of the stay at home dads.
It’s not you, it’s me…
Even though I had successfully navigated this awkward conversation 3 times before, this time was different. Leaving to be a SAHD was freeing and overwhelming at the same time. I never felt great about leaving a job before, I always had this feeling that I was cheating on my employer since finding a new job always involved secretly interviewing, doing my best to hide the reasons why I had to take off a random Wednesday. This always led me to give only the standard 2-week notice and dread the ‘break up’ conversation.
This time around, I still had the standard worries, but the emotions were completely different. I had the better part of 5 months to come to grips with my decision. My wife and I had spent endless hours on the pros and cons, doing and redoing the financials, reading blog posts and listening to podcasts about being a SAHD. I was ready and I knew this was the right move for me and my family. I didn’t wonder if the grass was really greener in the new job. No questions about company culture or if I would like my new boss. My new job is to raise our three boys, be a big reason for my wife’s career success, give our family an opportunity to enjoy this time when our kids are young – the grass was definitely greener.
I also decided to give 7-weeks notice. I loved the company I worked for and wanted to leave the door open to returning at some point in the future. Maybe when the boys go to preschool or if for whatever reason being a SAHD doesn’t work out, I wanted to be able to return if needed. 7 weeks would allow my boss to find someone internally to backfill my position and hopefully give a couple of weeks of overlap to train.
There was also the uneasy overwhelmed feeling. When I changed jobs before, I relied on the same set of functional skills. Sure, the business problems and company mission were different in each organization, but my work life revolved around mastering excel, math, and financial principles. I knew how to run the play, earn the trust of key stakeholders, understand their business, and solve their problems. Being a SAHD is completely different. My stakeholders are infants, they are demanding and have a lot of problems I need to solve for them BUT! there is no excel, and math required to succeed is fairly simple. Sure, being a stay at home dad is just the same as being a dad, but the stakes are much higher. I will be responsible for every moment of their new little lives. While I love being a dad, there is definitely a twinge of doubt of whether I can actually do this 24-7, and teach them everything they need to know. Hence….overwhelmed.
“Sometimes I’ll start a sentence, and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” – Michael Scott
So how did the ‘break up’ conversation go? About as good as I could have hoped. I wrote out a dialogue, practiced it a couple of times, and hoped for the best. After a couple of rehearsed setup sentences, I broke the news that I was going to leave and be a full-time stay at home dad. Then, I made a conscious effort to pause and prevent myself from rambling on and on about how we made this decision.
My boss was definitely caught off guard, but he was happy for me and understood that we were prioritizing our family. His spouse is a SAHM, so he is familiar with the reasons why someone would choose to stay at home with their little ones. We had a really good conversation and he greatly appreciated the 7 weeks to find someone new.
So, I’ve given my notice, now what? The next 7 weeks will be filled with SAHD preparations, figuring out the schedule of a 6-month-old, and winding things down at work.