Going back a couple of generations, looking after the home and children was very much thought of as “women’s work”. However, with the rise of stay-at-home dads and dads seeming to be more hands-on in general, I wondered what my husband’s thoughts were. He’s wonderfully hands on with Autumn and has expressed in the past that he is worried about missing her doing different things like crawling and walking for the first time. I thought I’d do a little interview with him about his thoughts on paternity leave and working, leaving his baby at home.
How long were you on paternity leave for?
I was on paternity leave for a fortnight – one week was actual paternity leave and the other was a week of holiday.
Did you feel like that was long enough?
No, I don’t feel like it was long enough. I think you need longer to recover from the baby being born and adjusting to having a baby in your life and looking after it. You need longer to bond with the baby and I think you need longer to support the mother too. It takes longer than two weeks to get a routine and get used to things when you now have a child who is fully dependent on you?
How long do you think men should get to have maternity leave for?
At least three weeks, but probably a month. Of course, you have to be reasonable though as there is work that needs to get done at the office!
What benefits do you think men would get from having three weeks to a month of paternity leave?
I think that they would get a better chance at bonding with their baby right at the beginning when the baby is most impressionable and learning who its main caregivers are. If you’re not there for large amounts of the time, the baby might think you’re just a visitor. I also think it would be a lot easier to get into a routine which works for everyone, because you have more time to shape it.
Do you think other men feel like they need longer paternity leave?
Every dad I’ve spoken to has said they’d like longer at home when the baby is first born. Some older relatives I’ve spoken to have said that they only got one or two days at home when their babies were first born though and I have no idea how they made that work! They seemed jealous when I told them I was having two weeks, as they didn’t get that and they feel it was unfair.
How did you feel going back to work after paternity leave?
It was really strange. I missed being at home and I missed bonding with the baby and being with you. I also enjoyed the change of mental stimulation. During the work day I went, (and still go), from between missing you both and the change of scenery and challenges that the work day brings.
Do you ever want to swap with me?
Sometimes I wish I could just stay at home with Autumn and bond with her. There are other times that I’m glad I can have a few hours away even if I’m not resting, it’s just something different.
What upsets you the most about not being at home with us?
The fact that I’m missing out on smiles and I’m going to miss out on big events. I’m also going to miss out on cuddles and general bonding. I want to be there to see when she reaches milestones and hold your hand, watching her and smiling together.
What do you think about shared parental leave?
I think that as long as the couple are on a similar wage, it’s very good. However, if they’re not on a similar wage and one partner is earning more, it just often doesn’t work out financially. It could show up the gender pay gap.
Erm, okay, that last bit didn’t really make sense to me. So, anyway, you think that the gender pay gap could be an issue here?
Do you think that in this day and age there shouldn’t be a gender pay gap, thus making shared parental leave more viable?
Yes, the gender pay gap is ridiculous.
Difference in wage was an issue for us, but it was down to what our job roles are rather than being to do with the gender pay gap. However, if we had have had the same (or much more similar) wages, would you have wanted to do shared parental leave?
Yes, definitely. I’d have loved my chance to be at home to bond with the baby.
Do you feel most fathers would feel the same?
*Nods* Maybe not, going a couple of generations back. I think most fathers of my generation would though, for sure.
What are your thoughts on this?