Huge thanks to the modern age, dads are welcome to take part in parental leave, that is, Shared Parental Leave (SPL).
SPL allows for mothers, and fathers to ‘share’ parental leave that would usually only be taken by the mother. Many companies had adopted the government scheme of SPL and allow for fathers to take a proportion of the mother’s leave, along side, or in blocks.
This allows for the both parents to take separate lengthy time off with the newborn, or time off together to take care of the new arrival.
I personally, count myself as being extremely fortunate to be able to take SPL. I feel this has given myself and my family an amazing start and is encouraging us to engage and bond effectively as a new family. From my experience so far (8 weeks in, my daughter Amber was born on 5th July 2016) I feel that I have bonded immensely with my child, and not only that, I’ve been able to support my wife as she recovered from an emergency C-Section.
After delivery, my wife was advised to recover and do minimal exercise for 6 – 8 weeks. I struggle to figure out, if, for example, she was a single mother with few connections, how this would be possible. She was told to lift nothing heavier than her own baby, and that it would take a few days to be up and on her feet efficiently. I could only imagine that this would be an immensely strenuous task for someone without support. A big ‘well done’ to anyone who has had to do so.
Fortunately, during this recovery period, I have been able to support my family by doing what I believe any dad should be able to do. Cleaning, washing, feeding / seeing to the baby, helping the mother in and out of bed, etc ,etc…
Being able to help and contribute during these early days is truly the most amazing thing I have ever done. Watching my baby be delivered, my wife handling it all extremely well, and then being able to support the both of them for the next 14 weeks full time, is truly amazing. I hope that one day, this becomes the norm for all fathers / families out there. It’s about time that we dive out of this old fashioned image of mothers staying at hone and taking care of the child while the father immediately goes back to work. Men are parents too, and should be allowed to parent their child during this critical time.
Now, I know that Shared Parental Leave is new, and people / organisations are still coming to terms with the concept. But, between myself, and a few people i know who have already taken SPL, their are a few incidents which really grind our gears.
- When out with your child alone as a father and someone asks, “are you baby sitting for the day?” to which a friend of mine who experienced this replied, “no, I’m not baby sitting, this is my son.” Personally, I thought this was a perfectly reasonable reply. Generically ‘baby sitting’ would imply that your are sitting someone else’s baby.
- People assuming that because you have your child out during the week that you are a non-working parent. Again, I feel this is people jumping to conclusions. In regards to my company, I get a minimum of 14 weeks SPL – full paid. That line alone is generally a good comeback for people which such remarks.
- Toilet changing facilities, I know that a lot of places are stuck in their ways, but male toilets should have baby changing facilities too. The majority of the time this is only provided in female toilets, and disabled toilets. Many people don’t like to use disabled toilets, in case someone who indeed needs the toilet happens to arrive. Why not provide a changing table in the male toilets too? Surely that does’t cost too much to install ?
These are my three Shared Parental Leave fathering peeves, so far… Please contribute below anything that you have came across or found to be particularly peeving. It would be nice to discuss :)