Now, we really are getting somewhere with the shared parental leave thing.. but why does no one take it? Well for starters it seems that lots of people have no idea it’s even available. Then some friends who have decided to use it, approach their employers, and although not refused the leave, most employers haven’t really had a clue how it works and it’s taken a lot of investigation to get it sorted. And some mums (quite rightly) just don’t want to give up any of their weeks! Then there’s just the expectation of society that dads take 2 weeks and hop on back to work. Luckily for us, Papa Oatcake has been around a lot, but being self employed there’s no leave or benefit for dads at all! Nothing!
I for one know that had Papa Oatcake gone back to work all day every day after 2 weeks I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here looking so perky. And if we’re honest I’m not looking all that perky. The wee man has bronchiolitis, has woken himself up coughing every hour throughout the night for the past 2 weeks and been a real fusspot all day.. I’m so lucky that P.O’s work means he’s around a lot of the time, that at 6am I get a full four hours sleep whilst the boys hang out, but loads of women would basically have faced those past 2 weeks alone. And what makes it worse is that most dads I know would actually prefer to be at home helping care for the poorly one, bonding, enjoying being a family.. but instead have to maintain some level of energy to spend hours at work missing out on all the fun, snot and tears!
If Papa Oatcake had been at work he would have missed out on first smiles (maybe even all smiles as they seem to be reserved for between 10-11am currently), he would have missed out on gp appointments checking the wellbeing of his first born and the afternoon in a&e, not to mention the cuddles, the play time, the walks, the coughs, the vomiting, the Christmas tree lights, the mega poos, the mad dashes out of the rain, the good times AND the bad times, basically the start of Otis’s life.. for most dads that’s the norm and it’s SO not fair!! Not fair on anyone.. not fair on the mothers left to hold the baby all alone, not fair on the dads who need to learn and enjoy just as much as us mamas.. and we wonder what causes post natal depression? We’re trying to forge a society of equality but from word go we are teaching our children that daddies go to work and mummies look after babies.
In Norway they have 14 weeks leave exclusively for dads, 14 weeks for mums and the rest they can split however they choose. That’s equality!
I’m so glad we are able to totally co-parent our gorgeous boy. There are qualities he can learn from his Papa that I just can’t teach and things I can offer than can only come from a Mama. Lots of dads work full time and play a hugely important role in their kids’ lives don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen it in close friends and family and they are brilliant men and wonderful fathers, but they have to make a huge effort to make sure they have the time. But why should they? Why isn’t a dad considered just as important in raising their babies as a mum?
I vote we all up sticks and head for the Czech Republic, 4 years paid leave split between one or both parents.. by the time you’d had a few kids that sees you through to them all attending school! But since we’re currently struggling with the idea of moving more than 10 minutes down the road, for now let’s just be thankful we don’t live in the USA!! (Who get 12 weeks unpaid and nothing for the Daddies!!)