I have to say I wasn’t massively looking forward to taking the little man swimming. We’ve tried it once before with my wife and I taking him, and it was very hard work – I struggle enough getting my self dry after swimming (I never did come up with a solution to putting on shoes and socks on a wet floor), but add in a crying baby in to the mix and it can be almost impossible.
I had done a recce at the swimming pool 2 days earlier. So I already knew about the two flights of stairs (and no lift), and so a push chair was out of the question. Also the changing facilities in the men’s was pretty basic:
But one changing table is better than none, and actually is all you need as long as you have everything (make that TWO of everything) packed and sorted before you go.
Once we were in the pool we had a great time and it was all worth it. We were only in there for 20 minutes but those 20 minutes made a whole week’s worth or planning worth it. we had a great time splashing around, although less of a good time with the
water boarding ducking Ted’s head under which the instructor made us do.
This was the activity where I saw most other dads – for some reason it seems to be a manly activity. This might be because its very good fun.
A meeting with the mums. This is going to be weird…
Except it wasn’t. My wife has handed over not just the baby but her circle of mum friends who I met up with for the first time today. I was a bit nervous about it since I thought it might be a bit… well, weird.
But as I say, it wasn’t. So from the meeting with the mums here’s a summary of the differences between stay-at-home-dads and stay-at-home-mums:
Similarities: Pretty much the rest of our waking lives.
This hadn’t really occurred to me before. But the mums were genuinely interested to get a dad’s view on things. I think they were a little disappointed when they discovered my life was pretty much exactly the same as theirs. I was asked at one point:
“Is it weird going out in public? Do you get stared at – being a man with a push chair?”
It had never even occurred to me that this might be the case. But I’ll keep a look out today to see if people are staring (is this how paranoia starts?).
To tick another cliche box, turns out I massively overestimated the amount of time I’d have to keep this blog up to date. So after the initial keen-ness, nap times have been taken over by all the household and baby chores that it seems I have been taking for granted!
I have to say though, now we’re two weeks in, me and the baby are starting to get the hang of this. I started venturing out properly last week for the first time and its been great fun. I’m finally getting my ship together and updates will now be coming thick and fast (as in stupid and short). So please check back at PIUK (pronounced puke) for more updates soon.
How hard can it be?
Much as I hate being a cliche, I’m afraid my multi-tasking skills failed me today. This was the site that greeted my wife when she finished work – the result of attempting to cook tea and look after baby Ted at the same time.
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was how much there is to learn taking on the full time care of Ted when my wife went back to work. We spend all our weekends together so I thought it can’t be that different can it?
Once the safety net of my wife is taken away (“How much mild does he need per feed? Is it OK if he has his nap 30 minutes early? Are you sure the nappy is supposed to look like this??”), then it gets a bit more difficult.
Still, 4 days in to the job and I feel I’m doing ok. The boss-man is a bit more demanding when I get it wrong than my regular boss, and his communication skills aren’t up to much. But we’ll get there.
How hard can it be?
“Sorry I can’t come in for that meeting, I’m on paternity leave until the new year.”
“Oh. Congratulations. When’s the baby due?”
“About 6 months ago. This is extended paternity leave. Me looking after my baby after his mum goes back to work”.
“Oh. So when will you be able to score this PQQ?”
Fewer than one in fifty fathers take up their right to additional paternity leave since it was introduced in 2011. This is different from “ordinary paternity leave” that most fathers take off just after the baby is born. This is what is known as “additional paternity leave” , and the government cite “cultural barriers” to fathers not taking it up.
My experience has been so far that most people just aren’t aware that the options over and above “ordinairy paternity leave”. As far as I can work out I am the first person to take it up at our work, which employs 1800 people. I have had dozens of conversations trying to explain what it’s about. But once I have explained it people have either been supportive or indifferent (to my face anyway).
I think we have to get through the “ignorance barriers” before we can work out whether “cultural barriers” are real or not.