More Maternity Pay Not Shared Leave


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.


  1. Oh that sounds so hard. Here is very similar in regards to maternity leave, its 45 calendar days and then back to work so just over 6 weeks. Its a tough one wherever in the world you are, even more so for those who are self employed.

    Sending you lots of love, and maybe you’ll get upgraded to the master suite again soon xx

  2. It is so hard. I am pregnant with my 4th and my hubby leaves home at 6am and gets back between 6-7pm. I feel like a single parent half the time lol. Sleep is fraught and I sometimes wonder how we will cope this time. But we will.
    Shared parental leave would never work for us personally, we just couldn’t afford it!

  3. It is a difficult subject as I’m not really sure Hubs would take extra paternal leave either – he loves his work and as he and his friend built their business together he doesn’t switch off from it. I can;t help but think how it must affect businesses too tbh! I think you could be right that it appeals to the government because not very people will actually use it, sounds like we are both cynics! Sounds like you have had a tough time hon, hope things improve for you soon! xx

  4. I agree, increasing maternity pay seems like a much better idea. After my first 2 children I had absolutely NO mat pay at all because I was studying. As a student I didn’t qualify for anything. This is something I would like to see change. If I wasn’t married and my husband earning, I don’t know what I would have done! This time round I am still a student but this time doing a PhD which I do get paid for so should be getting 6 months maternity pay. Hurray!

  5. Ah I completely agree – whilst is great to at least have some paid leave, the amount is very low. But it’s something. I did giggle when you were ‘invited’ back into the master bedroom – oh the cheeky…! We have this to look forward to when Mini makes an appearance soon – I’m not looking forward to the sleep deprivation one bit 🙁 I hope things do get better and you get some more sleeeeeep soon! Mim @ #MaternityMonday

  6. Love the honesty and openness in this post which goes to show how very different circumstances can be.
    I am with you. If we value children, we should invest in their care and recognise what great jobs parents do in bringing them up often at huge cost to themselves

  7. The UK has better maternity leave than Ireland, and the Government here are promising a similar shared parental leave ahead of the next general election. I think it does wonders for gender equality, but agree only a small number of men will probably take it on. As a farmer’s daughter I understand your own plight x

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