Tragedy makes you think
I know everybody who lives in my home state of Victoria will know of the tragic death of Australian Football League coach Phil Walsh. He was apparently killed by his son Cy which makes it even more tragic. I do not follow football and had never heard of Phil Walsh before Friday 3rd July 2015 but this horrific occurrence has certainly made me think of family, life and my position in the world.
Work life balance
After reading the newspapers this morning it seems that Phil Walsh was a workaholic and trying hard to mend a damaged relationship with his children and especially his son who had been neglected by a lack of time spent with their father. He was busy becoming the best he could at this chosen sport and also later as an AFL coach. He probably didn’t realise at the time that his work life balance was not good and that his children were missing out on important one on one time with their father. It sounds like it was too little too late on Phil’s behalf and it had affected his son Cy more than everyone had estimated. Only time will tell what the real story is but the facts remain. This story made me realise how important even small interactions with your children can make big differences to their lives. I have been a little down on myself recently because I have ended up in a low paid job in my mid fifties but at least I’m home by 3.30pm to talk to the family about their day and any other problems they might be having.
The long holiday
When I was in my early 40’s we had the opportunity to take some time out and travel Australia for 4 months. Sally my wife took long service leave, we bought a reliable 4WD and a camper trailer, then set off. We travelled from Melbourne to Adelaide and then straight up to Darwin, across to Broome and then down the West Australian coast and back across the Great Australian Bight. It’s something we will never forget and even though our boys were quite young they still remember some of the trip. They spent the days writing a journal about the trip in the back seat of the car which they adorned with their own drawings plus photos or clippings from travel brochures. They asked many questions as we travelled about things we were seeing and people we were meeting so it was a great learning experience for their young minds. These are the sort of experiences that you can’t equal with school education and we made sure as a family that we travelled regularly (usually every school holidays) until the boys were teenagers.
It was also around this time in my life that I decided to leave work and become a home dad while the boys were at Primary School. I did all the school pickups, the drives to sporting activities and mixed with mainly mums talking about the kids and our lives. It was a great time and don’t regret a minute of it. As our youngest boy was 4 years old at the time I spent the majority of parenting time with him and even now that he is nearly 18 years old I feel that I still have a greater influence over him than if I had been a full time worker. He still asks me questions and values my answers (usually) over a range of topics. I would encourage men to be involved more with their children as I’m sure your nurturing will also affect their lives into the future.
Money isn’t everything – neither is work
Whether anything I have talked about in this article would have changed the outcome to Phil Walshes life is hard to answer. I just realised when I read about his life that I was so radically different to him that we may not have connected had we ever met. Maybe he needed more contact with different people outside the football community. Sometimes communities such as the football community become insular (like the Police force) and start to believe their own hype.
Money isn’t everything – neither is work. This is my mantra for this article. Money is essential – so is work but family and friends are equally as important.
Hug the ones you love!