I can’t pretend otherwise, it took me a long time to come around to the idea of both International Women’s Day and International Men’s Day. I found them to be slightly vague concepts and at times the debates they have created have been off-putting.
There’s no doubt in my mind the UK’s Shared Parental Leave (SPL) system could be improved. Nonetheless, for some couples it works very well.
Earlier this summer I published this article, written by dad Hamish Reid. He had taken SPL previously and with his wife expecting another child, was gearing up to go on leave again. It was enlightening hearing about Hamish’s positive experiences, but what of his wife Vanessa? I asked if she would be kind enough to write something explaining what she thought of having Hamish around in the early months following the birth of their latest addition. Here’s what Vanessa had to say (and please do also read this article from Nicola Gilroy who explains how SPL benefited her family).
I sometimes look at my life and have to remind myself my experience of fatherhood is very different to many other menfolk. Put bluntly, my existence has gone off in a completely different direction compared to my male peers who work full-time.
Dad has a job and is the main earner for the family. Dad’s industry becomes ever more competitive and he has to make a greater effort to earn the same amount of money, while also balancing this with fatherhood. After a while, it becomes a bit much. What does he do?
Trying to balance caring responsibilities with employment is never easy. Going back several years, I had a part time job that I left when my eldest daughter started school. I tried to make it work for several months but my stress levels became worryingly high, despite my employer being very understanding.