This should be fun…Around 7 months off work, looking after Chase. OK, so, it’s actually 6 months of shared parental leave. However, due to having some days holiday still to take from work, my last day in the office is 11th December, and not returning until 13th June.
Deciding on shared parental leave
Shared parental leave was something my wife and I considered a number of months ago. At the time, we were talking about me taking the last 3 months of her maternity leave while she returned to work. However, my journey to work has been bringing me down a bit and my wife had noticed this (before I had). A couple of weeks ago, when I got home, she mentioned she had spoken with her boss about going back after 6 months and we started making plans for this to happen. I immediately felt better, despite not really realising I was quite so down. I’m extremely thankful to my wife for spotting this, and doing something about it for me. She really is great, and this simple gesture reminded me of just how much I love her and one of the reasons I married her.
Theoretically, shared parental leave actually puts us in a better financial position than we are with her off work and me working. Simply because my wife earns more money than me. Yes, it’s that simple, and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. It’s certainly becoming more common and I believe that us men have to adapt, and so does society. Seriously, if the circumstances work, there’s no reason not to have time off work to bond with your child.
I actually can’t wait. I love looking after Chase. Whenever I mention to women something as simple as I do night feeds, I seem to get this reaction of “Really? But you’re working full-time?” Now, admittedly, it’s one feed at 3am (the boy’s like clockwork), but this is something we’ve done almost from day one. Chase didn’t settle well during the day, so I’d come home from work and she was physically and mentally exhausted. It was the least I could do, despite working full-time. Although I will say that 3 hours sleep at most, then an hour drive to work was was the most difficult time of my life by far.
However, now, it’s natural and my response to those women above tends to be along the lines of “Yes, really. My wife looks after him ALL DAY, from 7am to 7pm”. He has a bath at around 8pm and is then asleep by 9pm. I leave the house around 7am. If i didn’t do night feeds and a feed when I get home, I’d barely see my son, and I want to be involved in his development. In addition to this, weekend mornings are all Chase and I, while my wife sleeps in. Until at least 10am. She deserves it. She carried the boy for 9 months!
In 6 weeks, I’ll be in at the deep end with Chase and needing to find local baby groups. I have an annual pass for the Zoo, so I suspect I’ll spend a lot of time there. We’ve also got a nature reserve/Reservoir that looks to be open to the public so I imagine I may spend a bit of time there.
Unfortunately, friends and family don’t live around the corner. With local baby groups, I hope to be able to make new friends to make my time off work easier. This is my biggest concern. I’m a naturally shy person, and find it difficult to start conversations and interact with people, until I get to know them. Chase might be my key to this as I’m sure he’ll give me something to talk about and build conversations. Assuming a lot of these groups will be women, I’m not sure how I’ll be seen by these groups. Will I be out-of-place as the only man? Will they like seeing a man in their group?
So the concept of shared parental leave is a bit scary, but it’s going to be great. It gives me a real opportunity to bond with him. Hopefully he’ll learn to relate to me and in future, I hope this results in a great relationship with him. It also means I might get to see his first steps, and hear the first word. Unfortunately for my wife, she’s likely to miss these. I hope not, but how many men have missed these truly special moments in their child’s development.