Well, today is the last day of my quasi-Paternity Leave period. It’s a cliché, but it feels like these first few weeks have gone by in a flash!
I didn’t really know what to do about Paternity Leave while Joyce was pregnant. Work was quite busy and I felt personally that taking too long away from the office would be slacking (this was very much an internal pressure rather than a work or family influenced one). I spoke to my manager about it and he offered some wise words of personal experience – that it would be a mistake to rush back to work too quickly, especially with a first child and that I should at a minimum, play it by ear.
So, on this basis I arranged to take one week of proper, phone off leave and three weeks of working from home with the option of coming in to work if it was proving unmanageable. It’s turned out to be a godsend.
While I still feel very much like a third wheel while Joyce does the things that only a mother can do to care for NKOTB in the early days (despite the best of intentions, there are physical limitations to some aspects of parenting that I just can’t overcome!), she’s told me on a number of occasions that she’s appreciated having another set of hands around the house to help with the juggling. Having me on hand to burp, change nappies and settle NKOTB has also been useful in carving out solid windows of time for Joyce to be able to sleep undisturbed.
Not only that, but I know it’s built a good foundation for my relationship with the NKOTB. Not only have I been able to spend a lot more time with her that I otherwise would have early in her life, it’s been quality time too. I’ve noticed that NKOTB is at her most unsettled in the early evening (the infamous ‘witching hour’)… exactly the time that I would have been getting home from work and the only time that I would have been seeing her if I wasn’t at home during the day. I know I wouldn’t love her any less, but it’s nice to know that I’ve been able to hang out with NKOTB when she’s just being cute rather than cranky.
The one downside of all of this attention that I’ve been able to shower on NKOTB is that she’s been going through a period during which she’ll only sleep during the day whilst resting on my chest. Cute, but highly impractical in the long term. We’re going to have to employ some tough love to make sure she doesn’t get too used to that….
So while I haven’t been as productive as I wanted to be in the period working from home (and have a bit to catch up on once I get back into the office), overall, it’s definitely been worthwhile taking the time. As they say, it’s time that you’ll never get back. It really is one of those moments that you realise how valuable it is in the scheme of things to have a flexible and enlightened employer.