Downshift (dounshÄ­ft’) v.intr. To simplify or reduce one’s expectations or commitments, especially in work hours.

This is my downshifting story.

I did the long hours on the life-destroying career treadmill, working for a company that professed to understand what it was like to be a dad with young children, but doing everything to show they had either no understanding, or couldn’t care less.

I decided I wanted to spend more time with my kids before they were off at school. I dropped back to a four-day week and changed to a small company with great people who have kids, and actually understand the responsibilities of parenthood. I became a participating parent. Kids need time from their parents more than they need anything else. There’s no such thing as quality time. The quality comes when you give the quantity.

I spent time doing regular things with my kids: grocery shopping, errands, outings to the zoo (become a FOTZ if you can – great value for money), the pool, the library. Sitting around reading books, playing games (be prepared to be directed), basically just doing stuff. But it’s when you’re just “doing stuff” that you get so many spontaneous “I love you Daddy”s. I never got those at work!

I joined the Management Committee of my kids’ Pre-School. It was an incredible opportunity to see children’s development from the perspective of the teachers who start our kids’ education. An amazing amount of teaching and learning going on, and all of it fun.

Now I participate at the primary school, helping out with reading groups and whatever else is needed. I’ve also been elected to the School Council. Now that the kids are both at school, I find that I don’t want to go back to working full-time just yet. I like the pace and texture of life when family is at the centre.

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