Shared Parental Leave | The Journey So Far

Shared Parental Leave | The Journey So Far

We have now passed the half way mark of our shared parental leave {“SPL’} journey. It therefore feels only right that I  provide you all with an update on how shared parental has been so far. I have also asked my husband, W, to post his thoughts as well. If you are a new reader, do go back and read some of our earlier shared parental leave posts, you can find them here.

To quickly recap for you all, we agreed pre Bump’s arrival, that W would take seven weeks SPL alongside me. Right let’s get on with the update…

 

Daddy’s View

When I first floated the idea of shared parental leave to Penny, I did not fully appreciate how it would change me as a person and make my relationship with my, then, unborn child develop. I know it sounds rather corny to say that shared parental leave has changed me but in all honesty I feel that it has.

In these first four weeks, I have had an opportunity to experience so many wonderful things with Bump that would not have been possible without shared parental leave. I have also realised that, in the UK, we have a long way to go to establishing a bit of equality in parenting {hello baby changing facilities only in the ladies loo}.

Parenting equality aside shared parental leave, so far, has quite simply been the best thing I could have possibly done.

The bond that Bump and I have developed has been amazing. We are now at the stage where Bump is perfectly happy being consoled by me or Penny. This bond would not have developed how it has had it not been for shared parental leave. Sure, I would have had a bond with Bump but it would have been different and have taken years of weekends to develop.

I have realised just how special being a parent is. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was special pre SPL but I hadn’t really “got it”.  I didn’t get it, because, after a long day at work when you are sat having dinner and still doing work e-mails,  I found it really hard to get excited about what Bump had done that day. I think my lack of excitement was firstly because I was focused on work but also because I hadn’t been there to experience it.

Having now been there to witness many special moments, I get it. Nothing in this world, can prepare you for just how amazing it feels when you witness your child giggle properly for the first time, sit up fully on their own for the first time or  responds to their name for the first time. These “firsts” are things I would have missed if I hadn’t been on SPL and I feel so honoured that I have been able to experience them. That is something that no one can take away from me.

I’d be fibbing, if I told you that SPL has been all highs with no lows. Sure there have been lows, many of them. However, in these first four weeks, the opportunity to bond with Bump and experience so many “firsts” has completely made shared parental leave worthwhile for me. Here’s to the next half of the journey.

 

Mummy’s View

As regular readers will know, when W first floated the idea of SPL, I wasn’t impressed. Being brutally honest, I didn’t want to give up any of my precious maternity leave. As W and I sat down and discussed what he wanted, he persuaded me to give him seven weeks of my maternity leave. Now at the four-week mark, I wish that I had agreed to give him more time!

Don’t get me wrong, initially it wasn’t all a bed of roses. The first week of SPL was bloody tough. Adjusting to having W around was hard. Bump and I had developed our own routine and all of a sudden W was around disrupting everything I had worked so hard to establish with Bump. Of course he wasn’t disrupting on purpose, I just found the adjustment a lot harder than I expected. Bump has had to be flexible, W is not the sit around at home sort of person and we have packed a lot into the first half of W’s SPL.

The first four weeks have been wonderful. Having W around has been great for our relationship and allowed him to bond with Bump. That has been the most amazing thing to witness, to see father and son get closer. It makes me feel all emotional just thinking about it.

Having W at home has also provided some unexpected opportunities. I feel like I have some sense of identity again. I have been able to go and do things on my own. It has been liberating to be able do things that pre-pregnancy me did all the time.

Bump loves having his daddy around and his smiles for W have got broader and broader as the days have gone on. I am so privileged to have been able to spend this time with my husband and my son as a family. It has been great to see our family unit develop on a daily basis. The time, so far, has also given W and I a chance to develop our joint parenting style. I now feel that we are a parenting team rather than two individuals muddling through.

I may have had initial reservations about SPL but I would encourage anyone considering it to grab the opportunity, you will never get that time again. If your partner’s employer doesn’t offer an enhanced SPL package, get your partner to question it. We need to be getting people talking to their employers and questioning why they aren’t providing employees with the opportunity to have the benefit of a proper SPL policy.

 

If you are a Dad thinking of taking SPL and have any queries please do leave a comment below. W and I will be happy to answer them. Equally if you are a Mum who has any queries do feel free to comment below. We will be blogging more about our SPL experience over the next couple of weeks. So please don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter so that you get new Birth of a Mummy articles directly into your inbox.

Penny x

 

 

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