“It’s not a holiday!”
So goes my standard response when someone asks me about my shared parental leave.
To be fair, nobody has suggested out loud that I’m spending my time with my feet up, watching Cash in the Attic on catch-up, munching Doritos and reading the papers. But the language people use suggests their thoughts are along those lines. “Enjoy your break!” was a popular phrase when I checked out of the office in November. “Make sure you don’t spend it all in the playground: get out there and achieve something with your time” another colleague told me. Continue reading
“Voicemail has 1 new message. Please dial 121”.
For some reason, probably lodged deep within my psyche, this innocuous text message never fails to fill me with dread. I’m usually getting on with my day quite happily and then… Someone needs to talk to me. I have no idea who it might be. They will probably want me to do something. Or at least need me to call them back. It could be urgent. Maybe it’s bad news.
In an instant my blissful, carefree world is punctured by a nagging doubt; a psychological stone in my shoe.
I avoid listening to the message for as long as a can, keeping my attention on the kids and pretending that I can get on with life for a few more hours as though nothing had changed. But I can’t help not knowing.
Inevitably I give in and listen. Continue reading
Last week was my wife’s first full week at work since before Christmas. For me and the kids it meant a return to the stay-at-home dad routine that I had sort-of established back in early December but had since wholly forgotten in the frenzy of Christmas activities, enforced absences from home caused by plumbing and heating issues, and a much-needed family holiday. With the baby (and accordingly, me and my wife) now sleeping much better and our lives feeling more back to normal, I wasn’t too daunted by it.
It turned out to be a week of highs and lows. Continue reading
When I started my six months of shared parental leave in November I had grand plans to blog and tweet it throughout. After all, I was doing something relatively rare – there are not many men who work part time and take months away from their careers on multiple occasions to look after children – and I was sure that people would be interested in reading about it. The timing was perfect, with numerous mainstream and social media articles on flexible working for dads having appeared in recent weeks, culminating in Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of his plans to take two months of paternity leave. It seemed like a great opportunity for me to talk publicly about something I feel strongly about, and a topic with a real groundswell of popular interest and enthusiasm. I was confident I would be able to find a few hours here and there to do some writing. Continue reading