The End of #dadtime Days…era closes on my last day of #sharedparentalleave. I’ll miss it.

I’m sat on the sofa, contemplating the day ahead. A day back at work, into the routine I’ve been in since I was 21. Except, it is different. I know that it is highly (astronomically) unlikely I’ll be in this situation again, potentially until I “retire” (ha, aka die on the job).

And it feels different to last time I went through this. Partly this is the experience of going back to a less ideal situation than before – I’m going back to the same job – its time for a new challenge, but haven’t got round to finding that yet…whereas last time I had something different lined up. But in large part its simply because this time has been different and somehow more, well, fun! I think partly that’s confidence, in terms of my parenting skills, but also the different personalities I’ve been dealing with. 

No.2 is just, well, delightful. She is fun, she wants to be the life and soul already, and is simply more….engaging than Junior was at this stage. Even though she is over 2 weeks younger than Junior was at this stage in the process. She has been happier to do things that don’t involve constant entertainment, and doesn’t need quite the same attention he did. Except when she tries to crawl up the stairs! 

Junior is still pretty hard work at times, as the “terrible twos” have been exactly that, but as a toddler he is starting to come into his own. His plain will to do things clearly has been and will be a major feature of his life, and he is really only now becoming able to put into practice the things this mighty willpower wants. As his potty training, eating, playing and socialising show, he is able to express and act in ways that help him make the world more how he wants it to be. A pattern that will continue, and he will only get better at. Gods help the world…

As I’ve mentioned, all parents of two+ told us that children are very different, and that these differences are obvious – but I simply didn’t believe how great and apparent they would be. I assumed that it would be small things – the age or order they did something, the food or toys they liked. But no, it is much, much more fundamental. I haven’t time now, but looking back at the personality projections I did for Junior, I think I was fairly well on the money, and can and will write the same for No.2. Using that really does show how different they are.

Anyway, as I say, this is the end of an era, and one I have enjoyed immensely. My relationship with both of them has developed. No.2 didn’t really know or care who I was before, but now I get nearly as much interest and attention as Mummy. Her smile and upstretched arms are the cutest thing on earth right now. And to Junior, while I am no Mummy, I think I became a bit more relevant, as we have got up to some fun stuff on our own, and I think I’ve helped him come to terms with No.2 a bit through my struggles to create times and activities that are clearly directed at one or the other. However as he’s now at the stage of forming memories that he will still have when he’s older, we’ll find out in a decade or two if all I’ve succeeded in doing is scarring him for life…

I’ll return later to what my key lessons are from this period, but my feelings at the moment are that 2 months on my own wasn’t long enough – unlike last time we never really got into a routine, because we didn’t need to. But this is really a minor thing, as overall I’m just so glad and grateful that I’ve got to do it. And that we all survived of course!


A frantic finish to work and a quiet beginning to parental leave – but that’s unlikely to last all of #SPL…

My latest and last adventure in parental leave  started on Thursday. Frankly it was a massive blur. 

Leaving work was not as smooth or well planned as last time. I think the fact I am more confident about the childcare (I.e. Have no illusions about how hard it is going to be…), and being a parent already simply having less time to mentally prepare. This meant that I was working 100% right up until the last second. Not aided by various new joiners to my teams in my last few weeks, but mostly my own fault. 

If I were to do this again, what I’d do differently is mostly not try to cram as much as I have into the weeks preceding the start of SPL. Coming back after Xmas was a bad idea, although I didn’t have enough leave to do anything else. Also you don’t get much control over when the baby is born! It doesn’t help that I had been covering for 2 vacant team leader jobs for about 5 months. 

There is a key contrast with maternity leave here. It becomes very obvious when a woman is about to go on maternity leave, and good ol’ (inverse?) sexism means that as a man I’m going to be very cautious of overworking a woman in such a condition, and towards the end it usually gets pretty obvious when a woman is in such a condition!
Add to this having my phone stolen while on my leaving do, and my stress levels on Thursday were pretty astronomical. It wasn’t until Friday afternoon that the whole “not going to work, chill” vibe kicked in, with some help from Mum and kids. And it properly has now while I sit watching the NFL Divisional Championships safe in the knowledge that (a) I’m not going to work, and (b) it’s my turn for a lie in! 

Buts it’s not all fun and games – my first major goal for the joint time off is to decorate No.2’s bedroom – she’s not in it yet, as her sleeping doesn’t really warrant it, but we’d like to try settling her in it before the 9 month sleep regression hits (see what happened when Junior went through this. More to follow on sleep, obviously.) Looking forward to that one, obviously. 

Two weeks to go to #dadtime: Parental Leave take two, with Number 2!

It has been a while, and I will try to fill in some of the blanks when I can, but the biggest reason for the brief interlude is that No. 2 child, a beautiful, bonnie little girl, was born in May last year. Meet No.2!

Which as well as being a fantastic and joyous event means….I’m about to go back on parental leave! 

But boy, is it going to be different. Firstly to complete the lifestyle change we’ve moved houses, and in fact now live outside London and even the M25, in a leafy corner of Surrey. Served by Bloody Southern Trains, but there’s a rant for another day…

Also different (well, sort of) is the type of parental leave – I am now taking Shared Parental Leave (SPL), not the Additional Parental Leave of last time. Apart from making a mess of all my site names, what difference does this make, I hear you ask…? Err, basically none at all to us, but I will also spend some time talking about that, as one of my goals last time was to educate people on the difference. A task I largely failed in, so I will endeavour to make amends.

As I will also hopefully be able to show, children are very different, and I do hope that I will have more time to spend blogging, as No.2 appears (thus far) to be slightly less demanding than Junior. However this is balanced against the fact that for 2 days each week I will have both children at home. An experience it’s fair to say even Mum has found taxing at times.

We have planned our time better this time around, and Mum and I will be taking 5 1/2 weeks off together at the beginning of my SPL. I’m not quite sure how to cover that in my blogging, but I hope you’ll join me again over the next few weeks and months to find out. Bring on the Dad Time!!