Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

What I learned on paternity leave

My paternity leave was amazing, almost 4 weeks of just being a family, doing normal everyday things. Walking the dog, having breakfast together, watching in fascination as Matilda crawled and giggled and investigated and explored. Sure it was tiring, exhausting even, but that’s a given.

Not only was it fabulous to have that family time it was also good physically for me. My back problems have been well documented and taken almost a year to recover from. But 4 weeks of no sitting at a desk, of being on the move for most of the day, of very little driving and it’s incredible the improvement. Sure it still needs work and looking after but if I feel this much better after 4 weeks imagine what it would be like if this was the normal way of life.

I’ve been back at work a week now and already I feel different. Already I feel detached from family life, I’ve even had a day when I didn’t see Matilda in the morning or evening. A shock to the system after 4 weeks of being with her 24/7. And I feel it in my back, the aches are returning both from sitting all day at a desk or in the car and also the stress. I can feel the knots at the top of my back longing for some good crunching at the Chiropractor.

So what does this mean? Do I just accept that this is how life must be? Never ending monotonous days at work punctuated by small fabulous periods of time with the family? I enjoy my job but I wouldn’t say it inspires me. But short of winning the lottery increasing the time with the family is tough. But maybe, just maybe there is a glimmer of hope? Could a career in social media/blogging/writing give me an opportunity to work from home for the majority of time?

I thoroughly enjoy writing which honestly surprises me a lot, I’ve never really thought of myself as that sort of person. Plus getting an award at the BIB’s this week has given a boost to my confidence and perhaps a window of opportunity to build my profile and get some new contacts?

But does it pay enough? Realistically how much can you earn from these types of activities? What other careers would get me more active and outside which ultimately is my passion?

Answers on a postcard please.


  1. I know how you feel mate. That’s why I went part time. My job feels soooo much better now that I’m not there full time. I too considered tryIng to make money from writing but unless you are superbly talented AND lucky, I don’t think Anyone can make the kind of living we are used to. I know roughly what you earn and I doubt most published authors make that.

    I don’t want to piss on your ideas and from what I can tell about you, if anyone could do it, you could.

    I personally couldn’t do it for a few reasons, firstly because it’s not a guaranteed monthly income. I also find that working from home doesn’t give you that much more real time with your family. You are still distracted. When I’m at home, I’m at home and I’m there. I’m not working, I don’t need to nip off and “quickly do something”.

    Sorry if that sounds negative but I have been through this myself and decided that going part time was the best solution for us. Still good money, freshened up my job, time at home and still an escape when I go to work. A good balance in my eyes.

    But as I say, I know exactly how you feel.

    • yeah that was my feeling to, could accept some fall in earnings but not halved. My impression is that those that do freelance work tend to have fingers in many pies to earn what they need. But at the very least I think for my mental and physical health something different is needed. Would love to be outdoors and more active, just don’t know how to achieve this.

      • You are in the same Place I was by the sounds of things. I looked at retraining, starting my own business, running away, everything, all because my job was doing me in. Then I realised I just needed a better balance. I enjoyed my job, I just wanted more family time. That’s why part time was the right solution for us. I still do something I enjoy, but less of the time. As someone further down says, it keeps a social aspect in your life that won’t be there otherwise. I think that’s important. I didn’t think it would be but it was.

        Changing careers would be great, but generally a new career needs either a stonking great dose of incredible talent, or training. Training costs money and time and for me, it just wasn’t viable. So the next best thing was to look at asking my firm if I could go part time. It worked. It might last, it might not, I may end up havin to do something new but if you require steady income maybe asking if you could work part time would be a possibility?

  2. There are a lot of things to consider if you’re thinking of changing career but the most important thing of all is to do what makes you happy!

  3. First thing that springs to mind judging from your posts would be something along the lines of a dog boarding/kennels/walking service. Don’t know if that’s your dream, but it’s definitely one of mine! (Well, any job that invovles working with dogs). Quite large start up costs involved though.

    As far as the blogging thing goes… I think only a very small number of people that have been able to quit the day job, and most of those are in the US. Then there’s the security worries, what if it doesn’t last and you’re faced with looking for employment again later down the line? It’s amazing when it works out though, great to see people happily earning a living from blogging.

  4. Come to Shetland, be a crofter! Work outside, the work looks like fun, plenty of space for the smalls to run around, all the sheep you can eat and the weather’s always superb. One or more of those facts may not be true.

    But, more seriously, moving to Shetland was the best thing that could have happened to my time with my family. I don’t work Fridays, I get to drop off/pick up kids most days and they’ve got more social and sporting activities going on than I ever had as a kid. You say you could take a drop in income – how does 20% sound? Drop a day. Stop working Wednesdays – your week becomes so much shorter with a little mid-week break!

    As for making money from writing, I’d love to do that as well. But I don’t see it as the key to magically unlock time with my family or make working from home any easier. Oh, and how does this conversation sound…
    “What did you do today?”
    “Wrote 7000 words, answered some emails, blogged a bit.”
    “Did you mow the lawn? Do the washing? Hoover the place?”
    “No, I was writing.”
    I did have a conversation very, very similar to that last time I was doing NaNoWriMo. (But I don’t care! I beat 50,000 words in the month and 7k in a day is my current personal best for a non-work project).

    There’s something about having to go out to work that makes me both more and less sociable. More because I’ve been able to practice my social interaction skills on real people and not (a) the pets and (b) the psychos in Borderlands and less because once I’m back in from work I really don’t want to go out to do anything else.

    Still, work-life balance is a very tricky thing. I don’t know how different my life would be had we stayed in Kent. Less kids, for a start.

    Apologies for the magnificent octopus this turned into!

    • Some very good points my good man. And doing a move like that is probably a very good way to truly change your working life. Agree on the social piece also, I guess if you did work from home you’d have to find some way to keep that going.
      Would you be interested in doing a guest post for me about your move from Kent to Shetland? Would be really interesting.

  5. Congratulations!

    I was a finalist but sadly not a winner. It did make me question my life coming up to the final, the what would I do if… Can you make enough money? I have no idea but I do know that life isn’t about just earning. The more you earn doing something which makes you unhappy, or sadly in your case unwell, the more money you end up having to spend making yourself happy.

    I do know that my blog represents something I’m passionate about and all too often we ignore our passions and focus on the day to day.

    Could you take a career break to give it a go?

    • Yeah I think the awards was a trigger for this, I just don’t want to look back and regret not taking the chance. I don’t dislike my job it just isn’t inspiring.

      • I don’t think there’s any harm in thinking about it or even taking a chance. Personally I’d go for a halfway house if I could, perhaps move to part time and then give it a go as that would limit the risk.

        I’m in a similar situation in a way. I don’t think I could make much money out of my blog but I have got some opportunities if I want them both with my blog and to reduce my working hours. I’m just deciding at the moment whether I want them. The odd thing is there’s a very clear route I could take to minimise the risk but I still keep getting pulled back to “but this was just a hobby…” and I’m not sure if I want that to change. I do firmly believe in passion being key in life though.

        Good luck in whatever you decide.

        • That’s a good suggestion, don’t think I would give it all up in one go in any case far to risky isn’t it? Think I’m going to try and pick up a little work just to get a feel for what it’s like

  6. is geared towards helping people monetize their blogs – it can be done! It takes time though, but it feels good to just have something on the horizon that’s going to make things better, right?

  7. I expect this is something most bloggers ponder at some point, after all, wouldn’t it be wonderful to make a living doing something you love? That’s the dream.

    I’d love to make money from my writing, but at the moment I think that’s extremely unlikely. I also look at people like @mollyjforbes, who has used her blog as a springboard into a portfolio career of writing and radio and know that they are working extremely hard to do what they do. Their work life balance is probably worse than someone who is a desk jockey. That said, I know you put the hours in already with your job, so you’re not afraid of the graft!

    If you can afford to take a bit of a financial hit, perhaps restructuring your hours a bit would help? You already do a day a week at home I think? Maybe that could actually become a day off.

    I guess my biggest piece of advice would be this: if you’re not happy, make a change.

    • Totally agree about Molly, definitely inspiring. I don’t know that I’m necessarily unhappy, but certainly not really excited to go to work etc and just feels like maybe there could be more.
      Think I’m going to try and take some baby steps towards writing and see how it goes

  8. Dog walking is a hit around here. I pay someone £15 to walk my beasties when I can’t. I’m another who dreams about doing something with writing. Monetising is a good start- I get about £200 a month through adverts/sponsored posts/ reviews and ghost blogging.
    Re your back, try pilates. My husband has started some classes for his back and it really helps.

    • The sponsored posts/reviews route isn’t one I want to do, but clearly there are some things I can do either on my blog or elsewhere. Going self hosted soon is my first step I think.
      And yep already doing Pilates, although haven’t had time in the last few weeks. It’s made a real difference.

  9. Another “re your back”, you could look into osteopathy. My father-in-law is constantly jetsetting for work and has really bad back problems but osteo is helping to sort him out.

    At different points I have made a good enough living from writing, actually, but it’s never been consistent and not really enough to support the life we have now with a child. I do think you should strike while things are hot with your award though. I guess it depends too on what kind of writing you want to do.

    I think my husband would empathise with this post. He’s just gone back to work after being off for staycation and he seemed pretty sad saying goodbye to Talitha this morning.

    • Thanks, have been seeing a chiropractor but will look into that also.
      Any tips on how to start getting a few writing jobs? I think I’d be happy even if it was one of a few things that I do. It would at least give me time at home to see the little ones.

  10. Anoop Singh-Best

    June 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Sounds like you had an amazing time on your paternity leave and so sorry you had to return to work. Sadly I’m not a writer or a blogger but love reading your blogs and think you’d be great doing it professionally.
    Hope you find the answers you’re looking for x 🙂

  11. Build on your growing profile here – you definitely have a way with words and I reckon there is a market for the dad’s perspective out there amongst parenting sites, etc. Let the baby steps lead to more.

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