So my time is up, its back to work for me. Sofia is placed in boot camp (based on our experience so far this is what it feels like) at our local nursery and I’m back to the daily commute. I’ve enjoyed my time at home immensely. I’ve been lucky and fortunate to spend it with my daughter for 2 months. It’s time that I won’t get chance to do easily again so what have I learnt?
- It’s an amazing time, she has gone from 10 months to a year and has learnt to properly walk, is babbling and possibly saying her first words, she has 4 words, dadda, woof, go, moo and hello which sounds more like “Hodor” and we all know how that turns out! She is a proper little person now with some clear likes and dislikes. It’s time I wouldn’t have got otherwise at work till late and then just getting to say goodnight.
- It’s full time, hats off to all the parents out there that do this full time and with more than one child. I said on leaving work I’d learn to code, bake, learn a language and play guitar. I did none of that and have looked after this little shadow that has followed me about for 2 months. If not playing then you are cooking food or cleaning up. There is some me time when she sleeps but this is variable and doesn’t allow for much more than general chores, a poo or a cup of coffee. You get in to a routine but it takes time. Em is still the master here, I have just been learning this for 2 months. Its all been about Sofia and I’ve been happy with that. I’ve definitely formed a bond I might not otherwise have had, I can’t see myself crying at nursery when leaving her for the first full day otherwise.
- It’s still very much a woman’s world at home. I had one conversation with a male at a baby group, cafe, soft play in the whole 2 months (and they were there with mum). I’m not surprised as very few people expect a dad to be off work or paying an interest in a baby, there own or otherwise. I had some great adhoc conversations with women with babies when with Sofia but I can gurantee that trying to have the same conversation with a mother or directly with the child without Sofia would end in a police cell. It just seems weird and that’s me saying that.
- Very few people at work knew what Shared Parental Leave was and confused it with Paternity. I gave up correcting people. It’s not made easy for you and although law isn’t something that is done. It’s changing and slowly, we have a long way to go to the kind of laws in places like Sweden for Parental Leave where you can get 390 days at 80% of pay and reserved days for dads. For me to have time off, it was done with no pay and relied on savings and Em going back to work. Places of work and the government have a duty to help change how we work and live in this country and make parenting something that is promoted rather than derided through exploits of council families in the Daily Mail or on Jeremy Kyle. I have a good employer so it will be interesting to see how flexible they can be when I go back.
- If careful then you don’t need to spend a fortune. You no longer have to commute, buy lunch, snack, go out after work. So I spend a lot less than I was doing at work. There is a massive market waiting to be tapped for good coffee and food at softplay or baby cafes. Get it right and you can make a fortune. I ate some terrible food out and it can be expensive. Places tend to do food or play well but not both. I had some great value Pizza Express meals and some of the soft plays kept Sofia entertained for hours. So a combination of the two and we are off.
- I do feel like I have relaxed just focusing on her. I am fitter, I’ve walked more than usual, my average step count is around 20,000 rather than less than 15,000 before. Carrying her about has improved my core strength. I am snacking less and am not seated in a meeting room all day. My running times are much better and I feel slimmer. My resting heart beat is now 49 not 55 which shows in many ways that I am more at ease doing this. Work makes you stressed, I can see this in Em already now that she is back. I am determined that I will not get as stressed at work once back. I feel calmer and I feel that leads to better decisions and a calmer reaction to problems or things going wrong. Doing this has been better than any management course at work.
- You need some time out. All of the above says working as I have for 20 years without more than one 4 week break is not good. It’s given me a opportunity to think through what and how I work. It’s allowed me to focus on a little one that is by far the most important thing in my life. Over the last year Sofia has come in to our life, we have moved house, job roles have changed and things have all been stressful. You don’t always realise that till you stop and take a breath. I know more about how I want to work now.
So it is all over and taking her to nursery this morning was a sad experience, you start to realise that although she has been here only a year she has changed from a helpless little thing in to a walking, talking little girl with her own little personality and thoughts. It’s pretty amazing. It does make you realise this is only happening once and to value every moment you spend with them as you won’t get another chance unless you have another one (we are both agreed this isn’t happening).