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Rimmer

Thoughts please .... on how to improve my life.

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Hi All, 

Been a rough couple of months lately and am throwing out a chance for you all to have input into my life (I may not use any or all of it, but these suggestions might provide a nugget of information) and a chance to improve it - I am also seeking professional help as well as the unprofessional here!

Some context for you all: - 

  • General - Life has been manic for the past 11 years since I left Australia. I run my own consulting business and triathlon is very much a "what I do in my spare time thing". I have been competing since 1990, done 250+ races and competed all over the world - IM, Halves, OD, Sprint, Multisport, Swim races, MTB, Cross, TT, Marathons, Road Racing and Cross Country. Also do XC Ski Marathon racing in the Winter. Life is busy; 
  • This season - Had entered two 70.3 races, a couple of sportives, 6 sprint races, 4 duathlons and 2 OD races. I ended up doing 1 sprint race due to fatigue - slowly. That was in May. I don't want to enter any more races until I can get a base down and enjoy it again. Swimming, though, is improving on 1 session a week OW and I am doing 150km / week on the singlespeed commuter;
  • The Wife - Got married to the love of my life in 2016 and her life was similarly nuts - we fitted the wedding into a break in my MBA course and between her Worlds sailing qualifying regattas. She is a GP and we lived together in London for 3 years, the last 12 months of which we were joined by our Labrador, Maggie;
  • Where I live - In 2017, we moved to Dublin and bought a run-down house next to her parents, right on the beach. Yes! Right next to her parents (who are fantastic and supportive). The mortgage was massive and the house was poorly-designed, badly-built and never maintained by the previous owners. We did one round of renovations last year and another huge job this year - it is now much more liveable;
  • Work - The wife works 3 minutes up the road and is on track to become a Partner in the practice. Unfortunately, there is very little work in Dublin for me and my line of work (Procurement consulting) that pays what I need to , so I travel to London each week and live Mon - Fri in a sparsely decorated, 1BR apartment, before getting home at midnight on Fridays. This costs a fortune and I hate being away from the wife and Maggie. I have wasted 19 days since October just commuting between London and Dublin and now get moody and irritable when I see planes .... not easy when your view out the front of the house is the Dublin flightpath!
  • Family - Sadly, my Dad passed away in July. We knew this was likely as he'd been ill for a long time and my Mum and the nursing home did a fantastic job of looking after him, but that doesn't make it any easier. It was a long, lonely flight back to Australia. I have no other family in Europe, apart from my wife's; 
  • Mates - When I am in London, I am there to work, so that it frees up the weekends. When I am in Dublin, I am too r00ted to do anything and my sport and fitness has suffered as a result. Some of my London friends have drifted off as I'm not there as much, and I don't have the time to make friends on weekends as this is wifey / family time;
  • Health, generally - I suffer from insomnia and get 3-4 hours a night, 5-6 on a good night. I have been making mistakes recently and almost put a rental car into a pub a couple of Mondays ago when driving 2 hours to the airport on a Monday morning. Not cool. I have also put on a bit of weight which I am not happy about;
  • Good news - We also have a baby on the way. This is awesome news as I never thought I could ever be a Dad (lack of willing partners until now), but I have the stress of working in one country while the wife is in another ready to go in the next 6-7 weeks;

So, throwing it out there to see whether anyone has any ideas. Happy for as little or as many suggestions as you want to make. I will take it all in and process it - I may not follow it, but keen to hear from you as part of the decision making process.

Thanks, in advance, 

Cam

Edited by Rimmer

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hi Rimmer,

the majority sounds fairly good to me, apart from the insomnia, and putting on weight.  the major thing which in my opinion is connected to both of these things is your job in London and having to be away from home. If you work on solving this somehow, the other areas will improve. I don't have an answer to that just yet, but focus on this major problem only. 

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3 hours ago, Prince said:

hi Rimmer,

the majority sounds fairly good to me, apart from the insomnia, and putting on weight.  the major thing which in my opinion is connected to both of these things is your job in London and having to be away from home. If you work on solving this somehow, the other areas will improve. I don't have an answer to that just yet, but focus on this major problem only. 

Yeah I only see one major problem and loads of flow ons from that... unfortunately, it sounds like a very difficult one to sort out unless you go for a full lifestyle change and ditych the consulting and buy a pub/bikeshop/espresso bar closer to home...

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7 minutes ago, pieman said:

Yeah I only see one major problem and loads of flow ons from that... unfortunately, it sounds like a very difficult one to sort out unless you go for a full lifestyle change and ditych the consulting and buy a pub/bikeshop/espresso bar closer to home...

Yep, you need to assess whether the money is worth it, if that's why you are doing it. 

Certainly doesn't seem like it. 

Choose Life. 

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Procurement in what industry? can you do it from home at all, do you absolutely have to go to London, Being that you consult, maybe it can be done remotely?  with bub coming i would suggest more time at home is going to become an even higher priority

Congrats on bub #1 arriving soon.

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Although you're doing a very different type of work you're basically a FIFO worker and look how damaging and unsustainable that lifestyle usually is.. 

Personally, I'd be doing all I could to be able to spend as much time with my new baby as possible, in fact if I was planning on disappearing M-F after the birth I think my wife would have had serious words with me....

Can you take a crap job for a while or do your business part time from Dublin? We keep getting told technology is supposed to make this remote working so easy but I guess in consultancy its about pressing the flesh and a presence is often required...

Edited by pieman
tried to make it less harsh/judgey

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Why have you both chosen this lifestyle?

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Tend to agree with what others have said mate - it all seems to stem from what is basically a FIFO job.

Fix that and a lot of the other issues / concerns will resolve themselves. 

With a little one on the way, you will want to do whatever you can to be closer to home full time.

Don't have the answers for you unfortunately, and when used to a certain lifestyle based on income, it is often hard to adjust but..............life!! 😏

Good luck and congratulations!!

 

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People above making sense Rimmer. That lifestyle is a challenge - I did it for a while, luckily not flying but a 3 hour train ride early Monday to London and then back on a Friday to the midlands - you are so right that it changes your friend-landscape. It seems to me you made a lifestyle choice, but tried to maintain as much from the 'old' as possible. It's time to change the 'old' fella - easy to say sitting half a world away, but with the imminent arrival of a new bundle of joy (massive congrats), that 'old' will become ever harder to maintain.

If I can be blunt, I see a serious challenge ahead: partner becoming a partner and the career requirements that brings; in-laws being relied upon more and more for baby-care; you away during the full work-week; renovations inevitably falling behind. From experience, the partner will see all that travel as 'escaping' fatherly duties. I fly a lot, and got flak this morning: you're ok, you'll be in the hotel tonight, enjoying room service (I won't, I'll be in the pub), and I'll be here with baby...

I made a choice to leave a good job for a new challenge to remove my international travel, and I've recently made another choice to cut down on my triathlon, I've stacked-on weight, miss the training terribly, but hey-ho, something had to give to balance new baby, 2 elder sons and a promotion bringing in significantly more workload.

To me, from my 10,000 foot perspective the answer is obvious. You've made the lifestyle choice, it's time to make a brave career choice - those young years go so fast my friend, don't miss them. Explore as many options as you can to sustain the business, without the travel (e.g. could you hire someone on-the-ground in London, so you only travel once a month; shift your expertise from consulting to recruitment as you know the game and that might mean less travel - I'm obviously spit-balling without knowing the details of your business, so my apologies).

Good luck with everything Rimmer. My final thoughts around this are, that it's better to make a decision, than to keep pontificating about needing to make a decision.

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Couple of things from my experience

  1. As the partner at home of a fly in Fly out spouse. It is disruptive and hard, in some ways harder than when it was the other way around. Your routine has to change in the same environment based on where your partner is there or not.
  2. being around your first child can be allot of fun and your partner may want more support. the other thing is it is only with you that the baby will pick up any Aussie terms, expressions.

Can you  put a case for 6 months leave of absence and try and make a go off it in Dublin?

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Skim read but if you are going to be a dad, have you considered being a stay at home dad when the bub comes along?
 

If you continue to do the FIFO, once the baby arrives (well 9 months after it arrives) you will hate it.  You will also put massive strain on your family not being around just for money or career.

You are having a child to be a dad and have a family.  Don't go and put it in daycare for 10 plus hours. 

My suggestion is work until the baby comes and then find something local and just be a dad. Cook the meals. etc...

I still hate leaving Miss 6 at after school care.  

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Was thinking the same thing!  I don't know what your work actually is, but if you need the money or even just the work to keep you focused, is there some way you can do something from home?  Even if not full time.  Even if it's a bit of a career/sea change kind of thing?

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Hey Rimmer, I dont have anything to add that hasnt been said above - just want to say congratulations on the baby. Happy days or should that be nappy days 😉

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A cracking pace of a lifestyle. Many partners wouldn't cope with that. She must be a beauty.

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I think academically it is obvious to everyone what the main issue is, that FIFO lifestyle would be really hard on anyone and with a baby sounds horrible and practically unsustainable.

You can't have or do everything. In order to enjoy life you have to give up on some things. I hate it but you really can't do everything. Hard choices need to be made.

Practically I can see how hard it would be to try something else. You have clearly invested a lot into your business. Your wife is invested in her work and family. I could imagine you feeling helpless in how to change the situation, but your aren't. You and your family just have to make some compromises and big changes. 

I wish you all the best in making some hard choices. But I think they need to be made, however hard they are. 

As Roxii said, choose life. 

Edited by dazaau
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Is the business big enough that you could have someone look after London most of the time, and you do what you can from home. Maybe expand into other areas that can be done from Dublin while you don't have to focus on London.

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Not specific to you Rimmer, but if I had my time again once I had kids:

- would have changed my work hours and not done 4x 12 hour days a week. would get home 4-5pm weekdays

- wouldn't have done long course triathlon obsessive training during my kids primary school years

- the years your kids want to be around you are fleeting, once they hit high school your face to face time will reduce as friends, boy/girlfriends, Uni and independence kick in. Make the most of 0-15 as much as you can.

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Wow! Thanks a lot for the contributions, everyone. It's very nice to know that although I don't know most of you, you don't mind chipping in with some advice and perspective. There were a couple of moments over the past few weeks that I felt that it could impact on my mental health, but it seems that the problems (from my own understanding and others) is the confluence of many change aspects all at the one time. 

There are a couple of snippets in there (run a bike shop or a coffee shop .... both of which are not done well in Ireland!!!), but it has confirmed that time (my kid's, my wife's and my own) seems to be the common thread and this is consistent with my own thoughts. 

Thanks also for the well wishes for the birth. At 45, I will be an older dad and don't think for a second that I know it all, or much of it, so the perspectives given are very much appreciated.

Will keep you posted with how it's all going. 

Again, my thanks. 

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5 hours ago, Merv said:

A cracking pace of a lifestyle. Many partners wouldn't cope with that. She must be a beauty.

A real keeper ... you have to go looking a long way to find someone as beautiful, patient, smart and funny as my wife, so I'm going to hang onto her!

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Hey Cam, I was just doing some reading tonight about GP wages where I live (the Pilbara), GP’s here are being offered $1500 a day plus accomodation, I’ll say it is harder here in the pilbara to attract professionals and maybe that’s why we are seeing $1500 a day rates here but I presume GP’s anywhere would be payed a decent wage, without prying, would your wife’s wage as a GP and future practice partner allow you to be a full time stay at home dad? Maybe that’s an option.  I’m sure you’ve considered it but thought I’d put it out there

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2 hours ago, KieranR said:

Hey Cam, I was just doing some reading tonight about GP wages where I live (the Pilbara), GP’s here are being offered $1500 a day plus accomodation, I’ll say it is harder here in the pilbara to attract professionals and maybe that’s why we are seeing $1500 a day rates here but I presume GP’s anywhere would be payed a decent wage, without prying, would your wife’s wage as a GP and future practice partner allow you to be a full time stay at home dad? Maybe that’s an option.  I’m sure you’ve considered it but thought I’d put it out there

Thanks for that, mate. 

Have mentioned this to her and we have talked about a move back to Australia for a period, although the Pilbara might be a stretch for someone who likes to be close to the sea .... and the shops! 

The Partnership thing is something that would change things for us as the model is very different in Ireland cf the UK. This would ease one burden and allow me to be a FT Dad for a while, but I want also some career growth and that - from the research I have done - isn't going to happen to the same degree in Ireland.

It's about the balance, I think, but what that balance is is another thing. 

Thanks for the thoughts ... I think we're even now!

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17 hours ago, Peter said:

Skim read but if you are going to be a dad, have you considered being a stay at home dad when the bub comes along?
 

If you continue to do the FIFO, once the baby arrives (well 9 months after it arrives) you will hate it.  You will also put massive strain on your family not being around just for money or career.

You are having a child to be a dad and have a family.  Don't go and put it in daycare for 10 plus hours. 

My suggestion is work until the baby comes and then find something local and just be a dad. Cook the meals. etc...

I still hate leaving Miss 6 at after school care.  

First of all, congratulations on #1 making a little rimmer, #2 caring enough to ask for help.

Peter has knocked it on the head. 

Even if you work at Woolies, or whatever they have over there, better something local with reasonable hrs that you can walk in and walk out of, no take home work or stress.  If you're not there when bub arrives, your wife will not be impressed. A new born is hard work (so are toddlers, and school aged kids, and teenagers ....) 🤣

Also,  if you're hours away and she goes into labour,  what then? You CANNOT miss the birth of your child. It is an amazing experience. 

I wish you all the best. A career change is hard work. I know nothing about your line of work so can't comment on how you could do it another way, just one suggestion. 

Just remember, we work to live. Not live to work. 

Take care. 

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Rimmer, if you don't mind me asking, what exactly do you do?  And are you self employed, contacted, or a stock standard employee?

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Hey Cam,

The last time we had dinner, if I'm honest, I detected a distinct 'low ebb' about you and your situation. Compared to when we did that sportive last year, there was a definite lack of spark.  You have a lot of balls in the air, you know first hand that I've had some similar life dilemmas with work/balance/kids/stuff in general and you were a great mate to me then. So this from the heart.

You are working very hard to stand still. You're not treading water but you are trying to get to a point where the 'Big Bang' happens and everything slots into place.  We've made this mistake a few times in the UK.  'If I can just get that job' or 'If we can just sort that house' or 'If she can just get the right school'. All noble sentiments but guess what, life is whizzing by and that magic wand hasn't happened.  We are waiting for the 'perfect house' to buy but the market is slow and I'm keen to move out of where we are for the reasons you know. So we may rent again. This isn't part of the plan or the final picture but some better life quality now is better than perfect life quality and some undefined point in the future.

There is always a 'round the next corner' situation but don't get any closer to the destination.  You are a great friend and a considerate person and will make a great Dad but only if you are around. The whole 'I'm doing it for the family' seems great on paper but comes with unintended collateral damage.

As others have said, 90% of your problems stem from your work situation. I know where you work (I used to work for the same company) and I know what their WFH policy is (not great, at least when I was there).

Fully agree with Parky on the Long Course stuff. IMO, it's not the training time but the training logistics that hit hard. Bike cleaning, pool trips, all make an impact. I'm going to be more home based, some road rides, lots of Zwift and some door to door running.

What I am making room for is family surfing trips, we all love 'em but you need two things to make anything like that happen.  Being together and having the energy. Being whacked out on weekends isn't a family life but you know this.

Sport wise, do what you can, when you can.  A fit, healthy dad is an asset and inspiration to any family. A tired knackered Dad isn't and nobody cares in a few years about your IM medal but the family will remember when you weren't around. Trust me on this!

You know I'm only a train trip or phone call away brother.👍

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Hey Rimmer - nothing to add re: work (as I know nothing of this line of work or the complexities of FIFO).  But I changed employment into Education just under four years ago, specifically early childhood.  I work between schools, early years and community and "try" to get the senior leaders from each to together and start to work collaboratively together.....

I don't have children (not by choice, just by circumstance).  But we work with families from all work of life, all circumstances and complexities....and I work across all of FNQ QLD. So I see and hear many things.

The first 3 years are critically important for children.  Being with them, talking, reading (yes, from the day they are born....), engaging them in all aspects of family life is so important for brain development.......consider the opportunity that is before you both.  It is a one time opportunity.  I have really learnt so much over this time......and yes I am data / research nerd so don't do things by half measures.

Again such a happy moment for you both.  Look forward to hearing all the exciting times coming up for you both.

And I never got to say thank you to you both last year, for helping me out and leaving a message for my family.  You went out of the way for a trannie you have never met and I have never forgotten this....thank you.

 

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You've described a lifestyle I've spent my whole life avoiding - but then home/downtime, leisure & hobbies have always ranked above work for me since Uni.  I've made a habit of being as efficient as I can at work to get the job done well in a short time so I don't have to be there stupid hours.  And never wanted to live in a capital city & waste time commuting.

What was missing from your original post was 'financial'?  Do you really need the money?  If you are not up to your arse in debt, or trying to keep up with the Jones's, I agree with all the sentiments above - smell the roses a bit more.  If you are up to your arse in debt - why?

As for the Dad/parent thing, yeah true, but people tend to overcook it.  There is a point where kids need to learn some independence & if you are there wiping their arses right through to their adult years, they become weak adults.  My wife & I still trained a fair bit when our girls were little, and they'd come to events with us, and train with us a bit, and race themselves.  Holidays with them are some of my best memories, and we set up a lifestyle where we had plenty of trips away with them, but they were often doing their own thing even when little, not hanging off us like limpets.

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6 hours ago, Rimmer said:

, but I want also some career growth and that - from the research I have done - isn't going to happen to the same degree in Ireland.

 

Let's dig a bit deeper into this, what is it you hope to achieve from the career growth?  Is it the status, self-fulfilment, money...?  Once you figure that out you can then look at why you are chasing this and is there something else that you can do (possibly in Dublin) that will help you reach this goal.  

It's different for everyone, I had to surpass my career aspirations before I figured out I really didn't want it at all and the long hours and crap balance was no wheres near worth it.  It's hard to step away from it when there are financial commitments etc, however it can be done.

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1 hour ago, Cottoneyes said:

I had to surpass my career aspirations before I figured out I really didn't want it at all and the long hours and crap balance was no wheres near worth it.  It's hard to step away from it when there are financial commitments etc, however it can be done.

Smart move mate ;)  You're a long time dead.

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16 hours ago, goughy said:

Rimmer, if you don't mind me asking, what exactly do you do?  And are you self employed, contacted, or a stock standard employee?

Don't be silly ... I threw it out there, so happy to share.

I buy professional services for companies (legal services, audit, advisory services, outsourcing, change management etc). I am contracted and work with big, global corporates. At the moment, I am working on contract with a "supermajor" oil & gas company and there isn't the demand for what I do in Dubh; the feedback is that this would happen in 10% of engagements whereas in London it's more than a FT gig.

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13 hours ago, Cottoneyes said:

Let's dig a bit deeper into this, what is it you hope to achieve from the career growth?  Is it the status, self-fulfilment, money...?  Once you figure that out you can then look at why you are chasing this and is there something else that you can do (possibly in Dublin) that will help you reach this goal.  

It's different for everyone, I had to surpass my career aspirations before I figured out I really didn't want it at all and the long hours and crap balance was no wheres near worth it.  It's hard to step away from it when there are financial commitments etc, however it can be done.

Very fair question and happy to answer this as i think I know. 

Career growth is something that I need, but it's not necessarily climbing the greasy pole of the corporate ladder or more cash. What I need is the "spiking hair on the back of your neck feeling" about doing a job well and contributing to improving something. Which is why my 3 month contracts have turned into 4 or 6 year engagements - I end up knowing more about the companies I work for than they do themselves. I like pulling things apart and putting them back together and I am not concerned about the cash as I know that I will always have work. 

I tend to work smarter, not longer or harder a I am trying to find the balance, something that it appears is the mainstay of the responses here.

To be honest, the career growth is in the form of working on more and more complex deals and the challenge that this entails.

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Hey mate 

every body’s circumstances are different and environment 

I lived in Cronulla my whole life and never thought I’d leave ,

we have 3 kids 7,10,12 and I reckon I wasn’t doing to much with them ( but thought I was ) 

im a builder and was just working hard stressing a lot over jobs wages apprentices etc not really getting on with the wife she was working hard in her business as well , 

Now since we haved moved to the south coast I spend all my time with the kids and realise it’s a short time span as Parkside said.

my wife is always saying I don’t have to do something every day with them but I love it especially in summertime ,the wife and I get on better then we ever did ,

There was definitely hard times through our first year a few tears etc and we watch the dollars for the first time in our lives now I’m just a carpenter and I reckon I’ve taken about a 150k pay cut  , but I tell you what it’s worth it .

so my advice would don’t worry about the dollars you can’t take it with you just do what you can to spend as much time with the kid and future kids it will pay dividends later in life ,

My best mate father once said to me 

“ the richest man I’ve ever known was Todd’s grandad and he didn’t have a penny” 

they are such a tightnit  family 

good luck mate !

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Only a few days ago I came across a photo of my daughter (now 6, with siblings 8 and 4) as a toddler.

Reflecting on the photo, I couldn’t help but think that my memories of that time lacked some of the clarity I might have expected. Up to around that time, a lot of things in my life all seemed to be coming together - conversations around a partner trajectory at a big 4 firm were happening, a new home with renovation plans had just settled, a couple of IM finishes were a fresh memory and my wife was starting her medical specialty training.

Then things began unraveling. While not having seen a professional at the time (amongst other things, not having any prior history), in hindsight some anxiety and depression symptoms are somewhat obvious. 

Notwithstanding the extent to which my mental state was situational (some aspects of which, such as my eldest getting off to a bumpy start at school and experiencing a long term injury, were outside my control) is debatable, making a career change was practically like hitting a reset button.

So with a young family on the way, unless the “back of your neck feeling” only comes from your work, as others on here have already suggested, I would sinply ask that you consider leaving a demanding job in favour of having capacity (in particular mentally) to be “more present” with family.

 

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