Any decision is a big decision when it comes to your children but one decision was relatively easy for us to make. Shared parental leave (SPL). I have collaborated with Mr G on this post to explain the reasons, from both points of view, why we’ve chosen to split the leave.
First of all, some background. I started my maternity leave in the middle of March, a couple of weeks before Saskia was born, and I’ll be going back to work in just under two weeks (on the 4th September.) Mr G had two weeks off when Saskia was born and has been off since the end of July. He’ll be going back to work at the end of November after 17 weeks off. Between us we’ll have our 39 weeks paid leave, although 5 weeks of that is a crossover.
Of course there are financial reasons why we’ve chosen SPL buy I’ll try not to bore you with those! From my point of view there are two main reasons why SPL appealed to me. The first being completely selfish – it means that when I go back to work I won’t be leaving Saskia with a stranger. I have to go back to work, I don’t have a choice and the idea of leaving Saskia with a nanny or at a nursery at this age would be heart breaking. This way I can settle back into work knowing that Saskia is with her Daddy and without too much more of an adjustment for either of us. Of course we’ll have sort childcare out for her when Mr G goes back to work but by then, hopefully I’ll be in the swing of working mama life.
When I say that we’ve chosen SPL, most of the time, people think that it’s a great idea and wish they’d known more about it but it’s also quite common that I get asked why I’d want to cut my time with Saskia short. Of course I don’t! In an ideal world I would pack work in and become a stay at home mama so I could nurture and look after my baby 100% of the time but as I say, that’s not an option. So why would I “want to” cut what precious leave I do have short? Well, the way I look at it is that Saskia is as much mine and she is Mr G’s and it is just as important for them to have precious time together. Studies show that fathers who spend more time with their children early on are less likely to leave in the future, although I’m not sure how true this is! However, I can see why it would make sense. How many women have been met with their husbands/partners telling them that it’s easy looking after children and the house and that they “do nothing” all day? I’d hazard a guess at most! I’m hoping that this role reversal will give us both an understanding of the others situation and make us work better as a team! I also know how much Saskia loves her Daddy and can’t wait to see that bond strengthen even further. Coming from someone who’s always been quite intimidated by her dad, I think it’s very important for their bond to be nurtured.
Of course I have my reservations. I have my moments when I wish I was taking my full leave and when I worry that I’ll have too high expectations of Mr G and it will end up causing arguments. But all in all, I’m very happy with the decision we’ve made and I definitely think it’s an option more couples should consider. We’re very lucky as both our employers offer very good SPL policies even if we did have to do a bit of digging to find out about it! It baffles me why there isn’t more encouragement into these schemes!
Here’s a little paragraph from Mr G on his thoughts about SPL:
I felt very happy when I came across the SPL policy. When we spoke about splitting the leave, Anna told me it would benefit her career going back to work earlier, rather than taking a year off, which made me feel less guilty. Not that I should feel guilty taking time off work because, as Anna said, Saskia is as much mine as she is hers. I feel very proud to be able to spend 4 months at home with my baby girl. So far I’m into my 4th week and I’m very intrigued about how it will be everyday on my own as Anna returns to work. Especially as I’ll be beginning the weaning, I’m very excited. I’m also excited to take part in baby groups starting up again after the school summer holidays. So far I encourage all expectant dad’s to check their employers policies on SPL and pay as it’s an incredible opportunity.
We’re only just starting our SPL journey and we’ll keep you updated as time goes on. If you want to hear more from Mr G about his time with the Bubba then head over to his page https://sebastiangladwish.wordpress.com/ where he’ll be writing lots more about his leave!
Love, Anna & Sebastian xox