#JoJoPapaBebe: Changes in Paternity Leave

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In the run up to Father’s Day, we have dedicated the JoJo blog to dads, bringing you guest posts from a single dad, a working dad and a stay-at-home dad. Today, Mark from Sonny and Luca and Alex from Dadda Cool tell us their views on the recent changes to paternity leave laws. As of April 2015, certain mums and dads can equally share maternity/paternity leave to care for a new arrival.
father and child
Alex, a working dad of 3:
As the co-owner of three little people, aged 8, 6 and 3, I’ve built up a collection of kids and I am definitely glad that the nappy days are now over. In fact we really are heading towards a big milestone as we’re increasingly going on long day outs (for long, think nine hours at LEGOLAND) without a pushchair. The end of an era indeed.

A lot has changed in the employment environment relating to dads since we had our first child back in 2007, although for me a lot of it is purely academic. Yes, it’s nice that maternity/paternity leave can be shared but realistically as the main wage earner, statutory paternity pay doesn’t really cut the mustard in terms of paying the bills. For all three of our kids’ births I took varying amounts of annual leave and never considered taking what I was statutorily entitled to as the loss of earnings would have been too great. Perhaps that sounds like sour grapes on my part but considering how small they are, babies aren’t half expensive. And that’s before you factor in the chocolate to see you through the long nights.

That’s one of the obvious things you don’t think about when you only have one child – the more you have the less opportunity you have to let the younger ones learn to settle themselves. If our youngest woke in the night we couldn’t really let him cry for five minutes to see if he’d sleep as we’d pretty quickly have three children all awake and sobbing in the middle of the night.

I’m incredible fortunate that my employer is a very forward looking one. I tend to start my day in the office between 7:30am and 8:00am and I leave by half past five at the latest most nights. This is quite unusual for a firm of accountants as the profession tends to have long days but what it does mean is I get home in time to do the whole bed time routine. I know plenty of dads who aren’t as fortunate as me and hardly see their kids during the week. Children are little for such a short time that I do feel blessed to have been as involved in their formative years as I have been.

We recently had our niece and nephew to stay overnight. It was a shock to the system to have a crushing one year old who is still in nappies in the house and made me realise how far Eddie, our three year old has come on in the last year.

Mark, a stay at home dad of 2:
Whilst the new paternity leave laws are a step in the right direction, they remain just that, a very small step. Until more is done for parents, especially fathers, to afford them the option of spending substantial time at home with their young children then they’ll continue to miss out on so much.

And that’s a huge shame, because being the stay-at-home parent has been some of the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life.

Image credit: “Father and Daughter” by Adam Selwood is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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