I am a very involved dad who loves to spend time with his baby daughter, so when I realized I could take up to 10 weeks of fully paid shared parental leave, it was a no brainer. Together with my wife, we decided to first go for a long 5-week trip to the USA, and then for her to go back to work while I would stay at home with the little one.
Travelling with a baby is a unique experience and I could write a book about it so it’s enough to say that you should do it if you have a chance but do your research, be well prepared and set realistic expectations. You can still have a great time and visit many amazing places as long as you accept the limitations that come with a little tag-along.
Still, even though we were lucky to go on this fascinating trip, staying at home with my daughter was much a bigger adventure for me. While I knew how to dress her, feed her, change her nappies, I never had to be solely responsible for everything. When my wife went back to work it was all on me. It was quite intense at the beginning. Typical morning routine which involved getting out of bed EARLY, preparing breakfast, feeding, cleaning, dressing, changing nappy, getting her to nap left me knackered by 9.30 AM. On top of that, I had to ask my wife for almost every detail, such as: “is she allowed to eat this?”, “Can she wear this?” etc. She would get quite annoyed with me because those things were so obvious to her by then, but I just simply didn’t feel confident enough to make my own decisions. Eventually, I managed to find my own rhythm and after a few weeks, I knew what I was doing and was able to go out and explore some nice places with my daughter almost every day (after 2-hour prep time of course).
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my SPL and genuinely believe that every dad should have a chance to experience it. Not only is it great for bonding with the little one but it also gives an appreciation of what women go through when they go on maternity leave. You learn that staying at home with a baby is hard work.
Author: Marian Zastawny
Photo Credit: Marian Zastawny