The clocks have gone forward, we’ve stepped into spring (albeit with some pretty serious downpours and a gust of wind so strong it caused the car boot to shut on my head) and on Wednesday we’ll be a whole new financial year.
Working part time for an accountancy practise (who are excellent btw if you are looking for someone North West based) this is very much at the forefront of my mind and, with an election on the horizon new policies are very much under scrutiny.
One of the most significant changes coming into force as of Wednesday is Shared Parental Leave; all very new age!
Mumsnet sent out an email last week asking for bloggers thoughts on the new policy.
I’ll level with you; when the changes were announced I didn’t take a huge amount of notice, probably because I was too damn busy ‘mumming’ to sit down, read the paper, watch the news and form an opinion on anything unlikely to directly affect me and my family.
With two tricky toddlers on the rampage I reckon we’re just about done with the whole baby thing here…I think?!
Then I read on and noted that the email said;
Post your link on our linky page and you’ll be entered into a prize draw where one contributing MN blogger will win a £300 voucher for the store of their choice.
Hmmm I thought, I have always been interested in sexual equality and claim to deeply believe that blokes and birds are equally capable of doing any job they desire (apart from bins). Perhaps I will look into the nuts and bolts a little more…
The basics are that as of this Wednesday, working couples will be able to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in a way that best suits their family and work needs.
Parents can take time off together or they can tag team stopping and starting leave returning to work in between times if they wish.
From my point of view the time off together sounds awesome. One of the happiest periods in my life was when Mr L was on paternity leave following the birth of the big little. We could muddle through the days learning together and figuring out what our respective roles in this new family situation would be.
On the other hand, you are effectively eating up your year “off” in half the time so, I’m not sure how practical that would be for everyone but, even if you had 4 or 6 weeks off together at the beginning and then again later in the year I think it is a hugely appealing prospect. Taking a family holiday before you have to pay for a plane ticket or panic about disrupted routines? Yes please.
Having spoken to many new dads, as well as guys that are yet to become dads, the general consensus seems to be that new babies simply aren’t that entertaining. Yes they’re cute, yes they love them but they’re a little bit boring. I’ve never heard a woman say the same.
To that end then it makes practical sense to split the leave down the middle doesn’t it? Mum does the first stint when it’s all about the feeding, cuddling, the lounging on the sofa watching HUTH and Phil and Holly (a little bit kidding) and then, when the old weaning and crawling shenanigans starts Dad duty kicks in. But that mean us girls miss out on some of the fun.
At the end of the day, as with everything, it all comes down to pounds, shillings and pence. What makes most financial sense for families.
Mr L earns more than me so, even if SPL had been around when our babies were babies I would have very probably still had the lions share of leave and I loved it.
With breast feeding and what not it clearly made more practical sense too. A breast pump, even an electric one, can only do so much and, as open minded as Mr L can be I don’t think he’d have been willing to don one of these bad boys every 3 hours.
On balance though, I do think certainly that the option of shared leave is a good idea.
Children are the equal responsibility of both parents and so it is only fair that both have the opportunity to care for and bond with them in the precious early years. I have often thought that blokes are given a rough ride by eye rolling mums suggesting that dads are less capable. If they are, then a large part of that is likely down to the fact that they haven’t spent whole days alone with a tiny being that can only express themselves through the medium of high pitched noises.
They haven’t found themselves in the eye of a projectile vomit/poonami in the middle of the supermarket and simply had to keep calm and carry on.
Parenting, much like marathon training, is all about doing the hard yards, gaining the experiences both good and bad. No one knows it all and it is only trial and error that gives us mums the edge. Perhaps now SPL will level the playing field a little.
Finally, I wonder what business owners make of all this; “tag team taking time off in between” Is this fair on the teams you dip in and out of for the best part of 12 months? Surely it impacts on the opportunity to get effective cover in and leaves colleagues with a heavier workload?
What do you reckon? Would it work for your family? And if your a business owner I would love to hear your views.
Right, must dash, I’m off to meet my very beautiful niece for the very first time. The littlies are very excited but not a patch on me! Sniffing a babies head is the one of the best things on earth I reckon.
Loads of love,