The Reality of Shared Parental Leave

The Reality of Shared Parental Leave

I’m a feminist. To me that means fighting for equality for women AND men. So when my partner and I decided to split our parental leave entitlement so he could also take some time off with our daughter, I was all for it. We made the decision before she was even born and I remember feeling proud when I told people our plans.

I still believe SPL can be a great thing for families and I would encourage other parents to seriously look into it. But here’s a secret my feminist side wouldn’t want me to share: If it was just up to me, I wouldn’t be sharing any of my maternity entitlement. I feel ashamed to admit that.

I should be happy that my partner wants to spend time with our daughter and I know it will be good for their relationship. Instead I feel jealous when I think about all the fun they’ll have together and all the things I might miss.

I should be grateful that I don’t have to worry about settling her into nursery while I also transition back to work. It will make things much less stressful. I’m sure I’ll get lots of lovely pictures and videos so I don’t miss her as much and I’ll have to try to be happy and grateful about that instead of wishing it was still me taking and sending the pictures.

I should be glad that we have a relationship where we really are partners.

One where my career is as important as his and where we have an equal role within our household. I really don’t like the part of me that wishes we had a more traditional dynamic where I get to stay at home with our child and he takes on the role of provider.

I should be grateful for the opportunity to understand things from each other’s perspective. I know I sometimes envy him getting to go to work and have grown up conversations and time to himself even when I’m still loving being at home. I’m sure he can’t help but think I’m living the dream with days out and coffees dates. Little does he know the work never stops!

I should be pleased for our finances. We’re lucky that his company supports Dads that want to take time off to spend with their children. What I actually keep thinking is that I’d rather just have less money.

I should be confident that our daughter is in the best hands.

I know her Dad will take great care of her but that he’ll probably do things quite differently to me. I’m going to struggle with that more than I like to admit.

I should be happy about the example we’re setting for our daughter. We hope she’ll grow up feeling that men and women are equal, especially within the household. We want her to feel empowered by having parents who both have careers that they’ve been successful in.

When people ask me about it I smile and tell them it’s going to be great and even while I don’t feel like it, I know this is the right thing for our family. I just hope that by the time it happens, all those things I should be feeling, become real.

You can read more from Sarah on her blog, Raising Skye

Sarah Holmes

Mum to Skye and Max. Partner to Kevin. When I'm not complaining about being chronically sleep deprived I like to be out exploring the world with my small people. Currently on maternity leave with my second and figuring out how to be a mum of two, with lots of help from wine and chocolate! You can read more about our adventures on my blog, Raising Skye.

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