Not only am I testing Telstra’s all roles flex policy to the max, I’m testing my own fortitude. I’ve relocated overseas to the Netherlands for six months with Telstra. It’s not because of work; it’s not because of family; it’s not for any other reason other than it’s on my bucket list.
What makes this even more challenging is that my husband and I have three small children.
I hear you shrieking already.
Crazy? Probably, but we’ve spoken to one too many parents with adult children, who regret not taking a similar opportunity when their kids were younger. We had to think of ways to retain our jobs whilst undertaking this massive lifestyle change.
This would be a self-driven relocation, which enables continuity of both of our careers, whilst exploring other things in life without having to let one of them go. I want my kids to experience the same in their future workplace where it’s not about where you are but what you do that matters.
So, four months in, here’s how we did it:
Get it approved
I spent all my energy on how it was going to work, rather than pondering a hundred reasons why it couldn’t. Don’t waste time on Plans B, C, or Z. Work on your Plan A.
Having said that, some flexibility and understanding on both sides plays a part as workplace flexibility needs to suit yourself and your employer. When you bring the idea up, approach it with this attitude.
Make sure you’ve considered the practicalities of how you can do your job while being so far away and what you’ll need. People need to know how it’s going to work so they’re confident about your request to relocate.
Tie up the loose ends
Rather than renting out our home and leaving our dogs at the kennel, we organised house sitters to stay in our place rent-free while looking after our two dogs and only paying for whatever utilities they used. Vet-checks, medication, and other important forms were all taken care of for added peace of mind. It was win-win with keeping costs down and considering our now school-aged children were no longer going to childcare, we put that money towards paying our overseas rent while still taking care of our mortgage back home.
A global education
Our kids go to school in our host country, which I organised entirely from Australia via email. Yay to technology! You need to ask if prospective schools are accepting mid-year enrolments so you know where you stand before you leave. In Australia, my 5 year old hasn’t officially started school yet (still in 4 year old kinder), but over here, he’s school age. Major changes for us all. The new and old schools can do handovers too, which is good to know. Orientation for the new school was done when we arrived, and I promptly joined local parent groups on Facebook. Do it, it’s a lifesaver.
How we’re making it work
I made a list of my daily responsibilities for work and how to practically achieve them. My team know where I am and we all know how we can support each other. It comes as no surprise that my team in Telstra Digital are quite digitally savvy, so we’re all really familiar when it comes to working across different locations.
So far so good
I’d be lying if I said I was 100 per cent confident that everything was going to work seamlessly upon arrival but thankfully everything’s been working as it’s supposed to. Yes, there are gremlins in the Skype phone lines at times, but if that’s the worst of it, I’ll take it.
All in all, four months in and I feel I haven’t skipped a beat. May the rest of our journey be the same!