Shared Parental Leave, Would You?

Shared Parental Leave, Would You?

When I had my first baby, 14 years ago, maternity leave was 14 weeks, It seem crazy now that mums were leaving their babies to return to work at such a young age, luckily I’d made the decision not to return to my job and instead, registered as a childminder. The thought of leaving my precious first born for a couple of hours was too unbearable, let alone 5 days. By the time number 2 arrived in 2004, maternity pay had increased to 6 months and in comparison, that seemed a luxury. I took the full 6 months off to dedicate my time to my baby and my older son’s transition to being a sibling. Even at 6 months though, I still doubted my capabilities as a working mum, I was dealing with sleep deprivation, a house move and keeping up with the Jones’, or in my case the other mums at toddler group.

So when I decided to play the baby game again 10 years later, the opportunity to have a whole 12 months off with my gorgeous baby was a temptation I couldn’t resist. 12 months of just being a mum, 12 months of not having to worry about finding the perfect work/life balance, 12 months of not having to worry about childcare.  It’s such a personal subject and by no means a one size fits all, for me putting my children in childcare has never been an option I wanted to consider. I’d worked from home during my older children’s first years and wanted my new baby to have the same privileged start in life that they’d have.

I relished at the thought of being a SAHM, (stay at home mum.) My role would be the family PA. I’ll cook, clean, co-ordinate, account and restock. I saved enough while I was working to see me through the months of unpaid leave and went through our finances cutting out what we could, to help reduce outgoings. It was a carefully executed plan.

sleepy thumb sucking baby, shared parental leave, would you? by Mum in a nutshell

From April 2015 the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) will come into force meaning my husband and I could have potentially shared up to 50 weeks of this wonderful leave and 37 weeks of pay, but given the chance would I have opted for it.

In simple terms, no.

The £138 a week my husband would receive to stay at home would leave us in serious financial straits. He is the higher wage earner and as much as I’m sure he’d love the opportunity to spend his days caring for our last born and being a Manny, it’s just not an option we would have given a second thought to. I have sympathy for the men who never get to experience the career break us mums get with maternity leave, it’s something I am very thankful of. But the side effect of having this time off, resulted in me loosing my ambition.

The months out of the work place, left me wondering how I’ll return with the same dedication and drive that I once had, so much that I’ve handed in my notice and am venturing down pastures new and less demanding but it’s only with the security of my husband’s wage that I’m able to do this.

Should my husband taken a few months off and the same change in career feelings happened to him, we’d be in trouble.Big trouble. It’s that psychological change in status that occurs for some during any lengthy time away from your job, that often goes unaccounted for.

Shared parental leave, would you use it? by mum in a nutshell

I’m sure that the Shared Parental Leave will suit some people and I guess we’re just an old-fashioned family but no thank you, it’s not for us.

Plus, I didn’t marry Mr Nutshell for his multitasking at home skills.

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18 Comments

  1. 28th March 2015 / 12:09 am

    Its amazing how things have changed – I cannot imagine going back to work after 14 weeks! I’m ten months into maternity leave and due to go back to work in two months, and I’m struggling with that! We are in a similar situation, we couldn’t afford for my husband to take time off as the higher wage earner, plus as much as he loves the kids, he also loves his career. I like having a career, but you sum it up really well – people don’t account for the psychological change in status. I found it hard returning to work after having faced the challenges of having a child. I felt like too much in my life had changed so struggled to fit back into my previous work-life.

    Excellent post 🙂

    • 28th March 2015 / 6:42 am

      Thanks Kiri, I’m so glad you see it from the same perspective. I thought I would be able to walk back into my job as though nothing had changed but I was so wrong, all I want to do is stay at home and look after my family and so for me sharing the leave to go back to a job I’m not enthusiastic about wouldn’t be fair on my employer or myself.

  2. Morna
    28th March 2015 / 8:47 am

    It’s not really an option for us because my hubby is a stay at home dad any away. Mind you if we have a third baby I will have to shorten my mat leave as I’m the bread winner – I wonder if he would be eligible for the last 3 months of my mat pay?

    I didn’t lose my focus during mat leave. I had 14 months off with no.1 and 2 yrs with no.2 and then returned to my career feeling super motivated and ambitious. I think mat leave can really change how we perceive our careers- for me it made me value mine more. I think it is good that men will be offered this period of reevaluation too and if it makes them realise that the rat race is not for them then surely life can be reconfigured to allow both parents to have more time at home?

    • 28th March 2015 / 9:05 am

      You’re right and it’s great to have the perspective of someone who it would suit. There is a tool on Mumsnet to find out if you’re husband would be eligible. It will be nice for men to have that option as I feel that they miss out not having the chance to have a career break. It’s just not an option for us unfortunately, which is purely down to finances. I know quite a few stay at home Dads and it’s becoming more and more popular so I can imagine this will be a huge benefit to families where the mum is the higher wage earner or and they are able to cover the dip in wage.

  3. 28th March 2015 / 9:01 am

    I never really got around to an actual career! I had Fin aged 21 (at the end of my uni course) and Harley 19 months later. I was all ready to finally start to find a job once Fin was 5 and in fulltime school and Harley was at playgroup, then Fin was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic, almost died and was in and out of hospital every 6 weeks or so with infections and tummy bugs that dangerously messed with his blood glucose levels!
    Even now, his attendance rate is worse than most other childrens as he is more susceptible to every bug going, and seems to get hit ten times harder with most things.
    I’m not feeling sorry for myself though as who wouldn’t love to not work?! I have done little jobs inbetween here and there, but I am so pleased to have found blogging – it’s given me my self worth back, and has helped me to make new friends – the ones I missed out on making from having a career and people to work with!
    We are hopefully planning that 3rd child and there is no way we could afford Si to take time off other than the ‘usual’ 2 weeks paternity!
    Stevie x

    • 28th March 2015 / 9:12 am

      Poor Fin, I imagine that’s hard on the whole family. It’s never too late to start a career, I didn’t do my degree until late twenties and for 10 years was very ambitious. I just refocused once number 3 came along and have taken a completely different track which in part has been driven by blogging. You’re so right about how it fills the gaps that not having colleagues leaves. I actually wrote a post on that exact subject. I’m going self employed so won’t have colleagues (who in the past have become real friends) but don’t feel I’ll miss out as the blogging community is so lovely.

  4. mumsthewordincardiff
    28th March 2015 / 11:36 am

    Interesting post, as a SAHM shared parental leave wouldn’t really apply when we plan to have our next child. If it was an option at the time we had our now 14 month old, I’m sure hubby would have loved to have some time at home with our LO. Its good that there is going to be an option for fathers to have more leave for those who it’s suitable for.

    • 28th March 2015 / 1:06 pm

      Yes, the option to take it will suit some people that’s for sure

  5. Laura
    28th March 2015 / 12:08 pm

    I stopped working 4 years and am now working part time from home but could never ever go back to full time.

    We don’t have the shared parental thing here in SA – dads get 3 days paternity leave. While I don’t think I would like my hubby at home all the time I really could have done with some help in those early days (especially with baby 3 and 4 because we had the others)

    • 28th March 2015 / 1:05 pm

      3 days! Crikey! It’s so important to have Dads around in the first few weeks so they can bond & help mum recover.

  6. 29th March 2015 / 2:26 am

    I would have loved to have had the option as a new dad to take some additional time off, but to be honest the financial penalty would have really made me think and I would much prefer to have been able to take the additional leave in flexible chunks. I’d have loved to have had the whole of the first month off (instead of two weeks) and then had a day’s parental leave a week for the next 2-3 months, just to ease us all in.

    • 29th March 2015 / 7:13 am

      That sounds like the perfect plan, we did something quite similar but with a couple of weeks then half days but it was all done through holiday allowance as the paternity pay is pants. It was so nice having the support and easing into being a family a 5 like you say.

  7. 29th March 2015 / 9:41 am

    Great post and a topic that is very much on people’s lips at the moment. This is the second post on the linky about it. I think it’s important to do what’s right for you individually but can see how it’s important to have that time at home. It’s not always easy for either parent to go straight back into work after a child is born. Before I became a stay at home dad I would have loved shared leave. It would have helped in so many ways. That being said there are moments when I can see that parents who have the option not to return to work wouldn’t necessarily notice if the shared leave were available. Thank you for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky

    • 29th March 2015 / 11:04 am

      It’s certainly getting everyone thinking and it always a shame when these things come round when your children are too old for you to benefit.

  8. 29th March 2015 / 10:10 pm

    Such a complex issue and society may never get it right but that is no reason to not keep trying to ensure both mums and dads can feel valued at work and in the home taking into account their own individual circumstances.
    You sound amazing to me and in a good way

    • 30th March 2015 / 6:51 am

      Absolutely, it’s always a good thing to have the options, the shared leave will suit some people & it’s a great thing to be able to take advantage of it.

  9. 30th March 2015 / 9:49 am

    All this is, at my age, behind me but I do think that if Dads want to stay home the option should be there. #bigfatlinky

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