“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
All about shared parental leave: how you can take it, why it’s important, and what the future holds
For simplicity this guide is written from the point of view of a dad who is living with their child’s mother. Shared parental leave is also available to mums, same-sex couples, adopters and step-parents. For complete details see the government’s official guide at https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/overview.
Dads get to spend two weeks with their new baby before they have to go back to work, right?
Not any longer! Since April 2015 many dads in the UK have had the ability to take up to 50 weeks off work to look after a new baby.
It’s called shared parental leave, and in my opinion it’s a hugely positive move toward a modern and equal parenting culture, leaving behind the stone-age family model where women must do the childcare and housework and men must provide for the family.
Take up so far has been poor though – around 0.5% to 2% of those eligible according to one survey – and the change has not been without its critics.
In the hope of encouraging more men to take it, this is my guide to shared parental leave: what it is, why we need it, its strengths and drawbacks, and my hopes for the future. Continue reading
Back in November in my first blog post, why I’m taking six months off work to look after my kids, I talked about some of the reasons for me deciding to take shared parental leave. One of those reasons was that I hoped it would give me a chance to be an equal parent alongside my wife. Without wanting to sound too sanctimonious about it, the idea that I would head off to work every day while leaving all the childcare stuff to her never seemed quite right. I didn’t want my role to be a bit-part: I wanted to be in the thick of it, getting my hands dirty (often quite literally). Continue reading
Earlier this year my employer, a management consultancy, updated its maternity and paternity leave benefits to pay mums and dads equally for childcare leave. For me and my wife, not long after the birth of our second child, the decision that I and not her would take the bulk of the leave available to us didn’t need much thought: we would be better off financially, my wife was eager to get back to work, and I felt as though I hadn’t really had a chance to get to know the baby. Surely any man in those circumstances would feel the same? Continue reading