From April 5th, the government’s new shared parental leave strategy comes into play.
It means that men can choose to have the same time off with their children as women and the ‘traditional’ maternity leave can be shared.
It is too late for me. By April 5th I will already have been on maternity leave for five months. To be honest though, if it had happened earlier, I can only imagine the reaction of my husband had I suggested that he shared the leave.
While I acknowledge that there are a lot of fathers out there who would jump at the chance to have time off work to look after their children, Hubster most certainly is not one of them.
In a way, I feel like this new system has cheated me a little. Rather than making the system shared, could the government not made maternity leave more affordable?
While I know in Britain we are lucky to get paid leave at all (compared to America for example) but to women who are used to bringing in a fair whack of the household income, is £138.18 a week really enough to live on? Before tax?
Surely to raise Statutory Maternity Pay would help more families than sharing parental leave would?
For us, even if Hubster wanted time off, he wouldn’t be able to take it.
Not only is he a business owner but he is responsible for the welfare of animals.
When I had Boo, we didn’t even live on the farm. I joke that it was touch and go that he was at the birth at all because a cow was in labour too.
It was hard. He’d leave the house at 7am and sometimes not come back until 6. Thankfully my mum came down a lot but sometimes it’s your husband you need.
He slept in the spare room for most of the first six months because he needed sleep to work and that was hard too.
I naively thought living on the farm this time would make things easier. It certainly hasn’t. People turn up at all hours. Problems arise all the time.
I am becoming very good at helping Boo get ready for bed with one hand, feeding Beb with the other while simultaneously reading a bedtime story.
I sing lullabies and play with toys whilst cooking.
At six weeks old, Beb and I were invited back into the master bedroom (the title of which has never been more ironic). Until then we had slept in the nursery.
Our trip to that room lasted a time-defying 20 minutes.
I repeat. I was in my own bed for 20 minutes before Hubster complained Beb was making too much noise.
I imagine if you are all in the same room, you both end up tired. At least when Hubster got a full nights sleep. Written with gritted teeth. I at least got sleep in the evenings with Boo because Hubster had slept well.
With Beb I am not so fortunate because of Boo and because of the farm but I sometimes get an hour on a Sunday. Woohoo.
I am a farmer’s wife. I knew what I was getting in to. I am not saying I am so pragmatic about it all the time. As I write this during a night feed with Hubster probably sleeping like a baby in a warm bed, I could quite happily go and poke him in the eye.
While just one week’s paternal leave sounds like bliss to me, surely my case and the case of many other self-employed and business owners would be helped with an increase in SMP.
Shared parental leave does not help enough people. More money would.
Cynically though, this is probably why it has been rolled out. It is cheaper to offer shared parental leave than to increase maternity pay because less people will make use of it.