I'm taking 6 months away from my day job to look after my son, Archie, who was 6 months old last week. I've been following GeekDad for a while (even before I became a dad) and thought it might be interesting to share my experiences.
I live in London, England and am taking what's known in the UK as additional paternity leave. It's a relatively new employment right that allows the parents of a new or adopted baby to split the standard, statutory maternity rights between the mother and father instead of falling just to the mother. It's recent legislation and is not a commonly taken option (or even well known about).
What this means for me is that I'm taking a 6 month break from my career as an IT architect (I work in data mining and predictive analytics) to look after my baby son. My wife has gone back to work and I'm going to be the prime carer. I'm intending these blog posts to chart my progress and share anything that I think might interest other GeekDads.
This first post is really just an introduction and I intend to write a post at the end of each week.
So, why did I make the decision to do this? I first came across the concept of additional paternity leave when I was consulting for a German car manufacturer in Munich around three years ago. The technical lead of the project I was working on was going on leave and I'd been asked to help train up the person providing his cover. It turned out he was doing the equivalent of what I am doing now. I thought it was a really nice idea at the time and thought it was a shame that it wasn't an option in the UK.
Then, a few months later, as part of the 2010 Equality Act, the law changed and it became a viable option. I discussed it with my wife - if we ever had kids I'd like to share the responsibility of looking after the baby in the first year.
In 2011 my wife became pregnant and in January 2012 Archie was born, healthy and happy. After a few months of the challenges of new parenthood I was undeterred and spoke to my employer about my intention to take the leave. Fortunately, my boss was very supportive - he has four kids - and he proceeded to tell me how he can change a nappy with one hand and a glass of red wine in the other.
That kicked off the process and it's been interesting to gauge reactions from people since. They've been very positive, on the whole. Several of my colleagues indicated that they would have liked to have done the same or would consider doing the same if they were still to have family. The main issue for most is the financial one, although I'm fortunate that my wife and I have similar incomes. Most, though, aren't in the same situation, partly due to the still significant gap between average male and female pay. I'd hope that, as more men take up this option, that gap could be reduced.
I'm looking forward to the whole thing. My wife went back to work this week and I'm now in charge. Hopefully you'll find my journey interesting.