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.