In the past, a holiday meant coming back to work refreshed, but these days (as those of you with children will know) often a holiday can be significantly more demanding than work as a parent. So I welcome the relaxation that comes from not mopping up drinks for the 45th time or exercising my now legendary argument mediation skills.

This last holiday was no exception, in fact I went into it recognising it for what it really was: much needed parental refresher training. You see, far from being content with a three year old and a one year old, my wife is now two weeks away from giving birth to our third, and definitely last! We’re clearly masochists as everyone keeps suggesting.
Baby bottles, towels, milk and shoes
So last week was the time to get ourselves back into the swing of things – it’s easy to forget how much there is to do for newborns. Of course we have all the equipment already, or so I thought until I braved the garage. Never mind we’ve done this before so with a bit of scrubbing and some wheeler-dealing on Ebay, a few hours later we were all sorted.
Bedroom setup didn’t take long either. When we had our first child we hit the local ‘baby barn’ and spent thousands of pounds on a bedroom packed full of stuff we never used. This time round it looks like a study in functional minimalism. Think of it like a German engineered nursery.

I’ll know what do to when the green slime emanates from my new son’s belly button too. No need for a call to the mother-in-law asking her if we’ve broken our new baby. Completely normal, if a little disconcerting! Bumps, scrapes, chesty coughs, rashes, fevers, peeling skin, vomiting, general bodily secretions, weeks in hospital persuading doctors you’re aren’t an over-anxious parent (when at times you probably are). All done. We know what to do, and as a result, we’re somewhat less than panicked this time.

The value of on the job know-how

All this efficient and informed preparation made me realise that you really can’t beat the value of experience. No training ever prepared us for everything we’ve been through and in hindsight parenting classes, although useful for making friends, were woefully inadequate.
It’s a shame that experienced parents who’ve been through what we subsequently went through weren’t drafted in to support and provide an ongoing dialogue to help. I know I’d give my time or advice if there was a practical mechanism to do so (although online forums do well at filling in the gaps).

So I wonder if we truly harness or understand the untapped experience we have in our workplaces? It’s easy to focus in on initial training but forget all the day-to-day stuff it’s impossible to capture in formal training session(s). That only happens by connecting with the right people.

Engaging this untapped resource might be difficult, but when you create an environment of collaboration and sharing, you bridge a gap that no amount of training will ever fill.