I’m entering the third week of my period of Shared Parental Leave. I’ve written about it before and I’m pretty sure I will write about it again. I cannot stress how valuable this time off is. Not just for me as a Father but for Mummy Hew as a mother; as well as Gracie and Henry. These early days in a child’s life are so important to allow you to bond with your family.
Gracie and I had the opportunity to feature on Channel 5 News….it all happened quite suddenly. One minute I was replying to a DM and then I was on the phone to the producers at C5News. Before I knew it they had sent a car and driver to pick Gracie and I up and we were on our way into London.
I thought I would be nervous…but I was pretty calm. I was nervous about how Gracie would react on Live TV and whether she would just be fed up or bored. I’m quite passionate about Shared Parental Leave and I think that’s why I was able to remain calm. I was simply talking to someone about my experience and why I feel it is the right thing to do.
I felt the interview went well…it’s on my IGTV if you want to have a look. I can’t help but reflect and think there were so many more points I could have got across. Baring in mind I had a 4 year old fidget arse on my lap; who half way through the interview declared ‘Get off me Daddy your hurting me!’, I thought I did pretty well.
It still shocks me the amount of Fathers who are not aware that Shared Parental Leave is an option. When I spoke with the producers they believe that of the 250,000 fathers eligible for Shared Parental Leave only 10,000 opted to take it last year…I find this really shocking. I can’t believe so few Fathers want to have the opportunity to spend more time with their family.
There are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration. Clearly there is a financial impact. If your employer doesn’t pay you a Company Shared Parental Leave Pay you will have to rely on the governments Statuary Parental Leave Pay which is roughly £145 a week. We are in a really fortunate position whereby my employer will pay me up to 19 weeks full Company Shared Parental Leave Pay…meaning I’m not of pocket.
The Mother may not want to sacrifice any of their maternity leave. I don’t doubt that I am lucky that Mummy Hew has sacrificed 3 months Maternity Leave to allow me to take time off work…in some families this may not be an option, the Mother simply might not want to give up any of their leave…..and that’s fair enough; they carried the baby for 9 months! It’s definitely a discussion that will be individual to each family.
Also, there are also social aspects to consider…people still think that the role or parenting sits with the Mother. Whilst I fully agree that a mother should be involved in the upbringing of their child..SO SHOULD THE FATHER. In my view the fathers role is as important at the Mother’s; and that’s not just with parenting, we share the house chores etc too! I know what a crazy thought!!
I get asked quite regularly ‘would you still take Shared Parental Leave if you weren’t paid?’ And the answer is absolutely yes! 100%! The way I look at it is that after the Mother exhausts their Company Maternity Pay they will be on Statuary Maternity Pay….so there is already going to be a reduced income; why shouldn’t it be the father that sacrifices some of their income.
I’ve only been on Shared Parental Leave for a few weeks. As documented in my blog She f****d off on a cruise I wrote about being thrown in at the deep end. Since Mummy Hew returned home we have tried to instil a routine that works for us both…we are off together for 6ish weeks before Mummy Hew goes back to work. I will then be on my own for 14 weeks.
I’m really keen to enrol Henry into a some sort of class…or at least take him regularly to a sensory room or something to get us out of the house. I’ll keep you posted on that.
For now I’m just enjoying being at home, with my family, driving Mummy Hew Crazy, picking Gracie up from school and making Henry do the biggest belly wobbling laughs!!