Monthly Archives: January 2015

The hole in the ceiling



This is the hole in the ceiling. It’s been there for two months, and was a result of an unsuccessful DIY project.

I wish I could say it was for something complicated, like putting up a new light, or a loft extension. But all I was trying to do was put up a fire alarm. It was supposed to be a five minute job.

Anyway, I haven’t been able to fix it as it’s right outside the boy’s room, and requires drilling and banging. And since I only get free time when he goes for a nap the hole is still there, serving as a constant reminder of all the things that I thought I’d have loads of time for that remain undone (and my general lack of skills).

So I write this blog instead. I’m fairly sure the noise of me tapping the keys won’t wake him up.

The lazy man’s guide to cooking baby food

I hate cooking. I mean, really hate it.

I’d rather do the washing up. So this is generally the role I take on in our relationship.

But babies have to eat. As I also have a pathological aversion to comic sans type face, this rules out buying ready made baby food from the supermarket.

I’m therefore faced with a dilemma. Cook or face up to supermarket baby food. I decided to cook.

This is my first experiment with cooking baby food. Looking at recipe books and on the internet, there seems to be loads of recipes that are very similar, so I thought, why not try to get it all out the way in one go and cook 5 meals in one go?

So I…

  • Boiled some sweet potato
  • Bought a packet of ready chopped carrot and swede from the supermarket and boiled that
  • Roasted a butternut squash (as in shoved it in the over for 20 minutes)
  • Microwaved some peas, sweetcorn
  • Took some frozen chopped spinach and frozen peppers out the freezer and microwaved them.

I then mashed, chopped and blended as necessary which gave me this:


I mixed them up in different amounts which gave me five different meals:

  • Peppers and sweet potato
  • Peas and squash
  • Sweet potato and mixed peppers
  • Squash, sweetcorn carrot
  • Carrot, swede and peas

No more cooking for three weeks! I think I’m missing a bit of protein so I might try some meat or lentils next time.

I mention all this not because I think I’m the next Annabel Karmel (she’s a cook from America whose websites I now browse rather than the football results). But I thought the approach might be interesting for people who don’t like cooking like me – and at the risk of being sexist there’s probably more men in that category than women.



The financial cost of paternity leave

One hundred and thirty eight pounds a week. That’s an annual salary of £7,000 a year.

That’s what you get on extended paternity leave. That’s the statutory rate anyway, and unlike statutory maternity leave almost no companies pay more than this (none that I can find anyway).

I’ve been very lucky that my company have let me take these three months off, and they’ve been very supportive through the whole thing. I’m not exactly coining it in, but I can tell you I do earn more than £7,000 a year. So this drop in salary has been difficult but not impossible to deal with, through a combination of savings, shopping at Aldi and an overdraft facility. Probably not the greatest financial advice, but it’s definitely the best money I ever spent (or borrowed).

I do think that the financial cost will put men off taking paternity leave and that’s a shame. I really don’t see maternity/paternity leave evening up until similar terms are offered to men and women. That is potentially a big cost to business so I’m not sure how this will work. Do you?

What can be done to increase men taking extended paternity leave? (or: Paternity fraternity for eternity)

This post is about divorce and paternity leave and what they have in common (clue: I do not think one causes another!)

I haven’t met any other dads yet who are doing extended Paternity leave. A couple of stay-at-home dad’s but this is a different thing, and they are still small in number. This got me thinking about how this is ever going to going to get to the point where it is considered normal.

The rate of take up for extended paternity leave is currently around the 1% rate. I thought it’d be worth looking at what’s happened in Sweden which is often held up as an exemplar for how it should be done.

As with many aspects of civil society, Sweden has long been pretty forward thinking on paternity leave. They brought in laws around shared parental leave over 40 years before the UK. But the new law did not get off to a flying start. When the laws first came in for Sweden in 1974, there wasn’t much take up. In fact it took nearly 25 years for paternity rates to move 12%. But then in the subsequent 10 years this shot up to 24%. What’s happening here?

Sweden graph

Data taken from:

To answer I think you can do worse than look at how divorce rates have changed in the UK. There’s a review of the UK’s divorce statistics over on The Guardian’s brilliant data blog which shows the trend over the last 80 years. The divorce rate crept along until the 1970s when the divorce rate suddenly shot up, almost tripling in the space of 5 years.


There’s probably lots of reasons why this happened. But one explanation for this that I think is compelling is that it’s all to do with the divorcee dating game. The theory goes like this – when there’s no divorcees about, there’s no one to available to remarry and you’ll be alone forever, so you’re probably best sticking out in a loveless marriage until you die. But if there’s lots of divorced people then you can have another go and maybe it’ll turn out better the second time. It seems that the number of divorcees needed to reach a critical mass in order for there to be a sustainable post-marriage dating market. And this was suddenly reached in the early 70s.

Is this the same effect as with the Swedish parental leave data? I’m not suggesting that fathers on paternity leave want to date each other. Or that men necessarily want to hang out with men – I’ve had a great time hanging out with the mums whilst on paternity leave, and as I said before I’ve always been made to feel welcome. But certainly the more men who take paternity leave, the more men will take paternity leave.

So do you think we need to achieve critical mass? What do you think we can do to get to this tipping point quicker? If my site can play the smallest part in this I will be happy. But don’t blame me for the divorce rates.