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.
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.
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.