Shared parental leave half way through – a dad’s experience

Shared parental leave - dad's view

I am now just over half way through my shared parental leave, and can honestly say that it has been more difficult than I expected – and I wasn’t expecting it to be easy. I have enjoyed it so far though, and feel that it has been a positive experience. Mainly because I now feel that I have developed more of a bond with the littlest menace (I use that term affectionately really).

As I said in my one week in post, I was quite anxious about my time alone with our youngest son E – now nearly eight months old – as at that point he would scream sometimes until Alana came to rescue him from what seemed to be my evil clutches. I am pleased to say he no longer does this, but he is definitely still a mammy’s boy. He confirms this every day with how happy and excitable he gets when he sees her walk through the door after her day in work.

The park is a winner every time!

It’s been a strange few weeks, and sometimes the most stressful and tiring few weeks. Lots of people have asked me how I have been finding it, and the answer I generally give is that looking after one child is relatively easy, but when the two combine forces it can be difficult. I have felt on more than one occasion that one has to be practically abandoned so the other can have attention.
When toddler S is home for the day I try to make sure we get out of the house, but because E can’t walk he ends up spending the majority of the time in his pram or in the Baby Bjorn carrier. On the other hand, when we’re at home I feel like S is neglected because he is able to play without me and I need to feed or change his little brother. Often I’m faced with demands to be a dragon/train/cow etc for S to ride on, but I can’t leave what I’m doing with E.

It has been nice being off as our littlest is now reaching his age where he is learning new things – only little things like clapping and waving, but these are the landmarks that I probably missed the first time round as I was working nearly two hours away.

He has also started crawling (very Mowgli-like with straight legs), and luckily Alana was there to witness this … although I might not have dared mention it if he had done it while she was in work, and then pretended it was his first time later on. It’s likely it won’t be too long before he’s walking as he’s already trying to pull himself up to stand. And if you don’t help him he will let you know he needs help.

Never let a toddler read the map!

I have been lucky that Alana’s baby friends have been very accommodating and haven’t objected to me tagging along. It has helped a lot as most weeks I’ve been able to take S out to play with his friends and give E some time out his pram.

That’s about all my thoughts so far. It might sound a little like a moan, but I have enjoyed. I’ve been able to spend more time with both children just doing ordinary things. But the little things like train rides, feeding the ducks and building a castle (with leftover IKEA kitchen cardboard boxes) are big adventures for them that I would normally miss out on.

15 thoughts on “Shared parental leave half way through – a dad’s experience

  1. LaaLaa says:

    I like the idea of this. I find it can be hard for dad’s with newborns/toddlers as they don’t spend as much time as the mother so it’s nice to see a change.

  2. Cardiff Mummy Says - Cathryn says:

    I think it’s fantastic you guys are doing this. My husband missed out on so much with our children in the early days, and still does really. Totally agree it’s not easy caring for more than one child and it can be difficult meeting everyone’s needs, but it sounds like Stew is doing a great job and having lots of fun too.

  3. Cath - BattleMum says:

    Sounds like you’re doing just fine. Alot of dad’s might not consider shared parental leave and miss out on lots of things but you’ve been able to do and share more with the boys during your time with them. My hubby couldn’t have even considered shared parental leave as he’s self employed and we wouldn’t have been able to afford it but if our situation had been different he might have jumped at the chance.

  4. Erin Ek Rush says:

    I love that you’ve got some time alone. I wish all men had this experience (I know some do, some choose not to, and others don’t have the option) I think it gives you such a great chance to get to know your son in a different way and to experience what it’s like to stay at home! Fantastic!

  5. Emily says:

    Aw! I love that dads get to have shared parental leave! It certainly is tough at times. I have twins so have never known anything different, but you’re so right. Trying to spend equal one to one time with them both is hard, and one usually ends up being abandoned!

  6. Carly Markham says:

    This is lovely. I bet it is nice for Mum to come home to big smiles from being missed as well as Dad getting to experience the bits he missed last time. Until recently I had never experienced my kids missing me, whereas their Dad always had the big cuddles and smiles after walking in from work. It was nice to feel genuinely wanted for something other than food lol

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