Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Parental leave


Last week was tough, Matilda was sick and then teething, I was sick with a high fever one day and we had all the worry over Henry’s feeding. Now this week I’m back at work something I really haven’t been looking forward to.

In the last few days there has been something else though, something lurking that was making me grumpy and short tempered that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then I realised what it was. Frustration.

Frustration at the tiredness a newborn brings to your life which stops you doing things, at how hard it makes it to plan or just get out the door.

Frustration at the never ending battle to keep the house in some sort of order. With Matilda having a tantrum if I put her down to try to do something or trying to climb into the dishwasher as I empty it.

Frustration at the feeling of sprinting to stand still, of not actually achieving anything other than surviving, of being back to square one with a new born after having got used to a 1 year old.

Frustration at almost 4 weeks of paternity leave passing and feeling that we haven’t done any of the things we planned or were on our to do list.

Frustration that I’m even feeling this way and not excited about being a dad again. What sort of idiot does that?

I know this will change and quickly, I know it’s not about what we haven’t done but rather what we have achieved. That having a beautiful healthy son putting on weight after 4 weeks is a huge achievement.

But this period I find hard, I did with Matilda also, the lack of interaction with him, that he won’t lie down on his own for long. You need to bond but don’t have that same relationship that a breast feeding mum does. Changing nappies is hardly the same is it? I don’t have that feeling a mum has that he’s part of her. The lady of the manor has had 9 months to bond, I get the time when he finally falls asleep after crying.

This week we start the next chapter in our family story, we have to find new routines now that I’m back at work. It’s going to be bloody hard, more so for the lady of the manor at home. But we just have to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. In a few months we’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

So you believe in families do you Mr Cameron?

Dear David Cameron,

I keep hearing you talk about the importance of families but as someone who has just become a dad for the second time I’m not seeing an awful lot of support. My son was born 3 days ago, this means that if I want to continue earning my full pay this month then tomorrow I need to go back to work. Sure I can take another 2 weeks off, but who can afford to do that when they will soon be losing at least part of their wifes earnings to?

The average UK salary for males is £30,913 which means they take home about £490 a week, statutory paternity pay is £135 a week. So the average man taking the full 2 weeks off will lose  £710 in take home pay. A very tough decision for any family to take, let alone in this environment where we are technically in a recession and many people’s jobs are under threat.

But there is no way the lady of the manor could cope on her own with 2 children, not unless I want to come home to find her collapsed of stress and exhaustion. We want her to be successful with breast feeding (which of course your NHS 100% recommends) but how would she be able to rest enough to do that if I wasn’t at home?

I’m fortunate that my work is supportive and I’ve taken 2 weeks holiday to add to a weeks paternity leave. But many aren’t so lucky or even allowed to take so much time off. These first few weeks are so critical for both the new baby and the family as a whole I hate to think of families missing out.

Despite all this I do actually agree with you Dave, family is important, a good family environment can help prevent many issues in later life for children. So what are you going to do to help ME and my family? Let’s not forget that our child benefit payments stop next year due to the stupid rules you’ve applied penalising a family where just one is a higher rate tax payer. Don’t even get me started on child trust funds.

How about a higher tax free rate for new parents? Or a one off cash payment like parents in Australia receive? Or simply at least 2 weeks PAID paternity leave? If you really do value families and believe that broken families are the cause of many problems then this would be a good place to start.

Yours not hopefully,

The Fool