NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet announced the happy news on Facebook last night that he and his wife Helen are expecting their seventh child with a joke about needing another photo frame.
“Exciting family news,’’ he wrote.
“Our family photo wall is going to need another frame! Helen and I are thrilled to announce we have a little girl due next year.”
It’s lovely news for the Perrottet family, but we can’t help wondering how the Premier is coping? The big career, the many children, the multiple competing priorities… it’s a BIG juggle. Now, add to the mix another screaming newborn? Yikes!
So, based off the many conversations we’ve had with female leaders in similar boats to Mr Perrottet, we’ve compiled some quick tips to help him stay afloat during what will be a tumultuous time:
There’s no such thing as work/life balance
You can have it all, but not all at once. Just remember there will be days when you feel like you’re failing as a father, and as a Premier. You’ll be missing out on important family milestones while simultaneously feeling like you’re not quite cracking it at work either. Some days, you’ll feel on top of the world and you’re kicking all the goals, other days it will feel like Armageddon. That’s normal. But you have to remember to be kind to yourself and realise you’re not infallible.
Take the leave you need
We hope you’ll be taking the parental leave you need when your new daughter arrives. Currently, 95% of primary leave takers are mums in Australia with just 1 in 20 dads taking on the responsibility. Moreover, the take up of leave by fathers is extremely low by global standards. Bonding with your new baby is critical, as shown through countless studies, and your involvement in care work can actively promote gender equity. As the Premier for families, we know you’ll make this a priority.
Ask for help
You and Helen will no doubt be up to your eyeballs in dirty nappies, sterilised milk bottles and dirty baby clothes. Add to that the sleepless nights, constant worry and days jam-packed tending to your other six children and the needs of Australia’s biggest state… the mind boggles. Just remember, it’s okay to ask for support. Outsource jobs where necessary and lean on family where you can. You shouldn’t be expected to do it all.
Try not to succumb to the “Dad guilt”
Ah, the relentless grip of “Dad guilt”– I’m sure you know this feeling well. When your seventh baby arrives, you’ll likely experience this even more acutely, and be thrown into a sense of despair about never doing enough as a parent, not doing things right or making decisions that might hinder your kids’ future prospects. You need to try and let go of this. Understand that there’s no such thing as perfect parenting and being “good enough” is perfectly fine for your family.
Maintain open communication with your employer
As NSW Premier I guess that your employer is just…the people of NSW, right? So listen up: We know it’s a big bloody task juggling several balls in the air and we want you to be honest about that. If you’re struggling or there’s something you need, please don’t hesitate to ask. We, the NSW people, are a progressive bunch. We know that managing a big career with a giant family shouldn’t be an insurmountable challenge. In fact, people should be free to manage their lives and careers in whichever way works for them without gender pressures or social expectations.
I’m sure you agree with that, Mr Premier?