Working Dad While Sharing Parenting
Working Dad While Sharing Parenting
CREATED BY DAD'S TURN
My wife goes back to work on Tuesday and I'll start my turn on parental leave. So looking back, what’s it been like sharing parenting and working full-time? Over the last 5 months, we’ve been sharing parenting during the weekends and evenings, with her looking after the Little Bear full-time whilst I’m at work Monday to Thursday. It’s good to be reminded of what it feels like to be the more traditional working but active dad.
Three weeks after Little Bear arrived (probably the toughest life change to date), I went back to work. Travelling a lot with my job meant that a day after getting back to the office, I was on the plane to Vienna.
I won’t lie, I was very excited about the prospect of my first full night sleep in a hotel, with no baby interruptions. Unfortunately, due to the psychological trauma we had faced over the last few weeks, I woke up every hour startled, looking for a crying Little Bear. I probably felt more exhausted when I got back to London than when I set out… Since then, each time I’m abroad for work, I’ve been faced with mixed feelings: I’ve enjoyed the break, but also really missed my buddies (baby and his mamma) back at home...
Yes, a break. I’ve never referred to needing to labour through two day long meetings (however much I like my job) as a ‘break’ before, but there is an odd sense of life being easier when you leave the house in the mornings to head to work. Before I’m accused of enjoying running away, I should clarify that this isn’t just because it’s less exhausting to work in an office than being a parent. It’s also because you get a clearer perspective on life.
Before, the office was where the drama, excitement and challenges were, and home was the place you came to relax. But having a kid changes that. Little Bear growing up happily starts trumping every ‘big’ issue at work, and you start getting more perspective on what’s important in life. If someone disagrees with you on something small, you feel less need to challenge them.
Instead of getting caught up in work issues, you get easily distracted when your partner sends you adorable videos of your baby laughing at his dolly (not that you would be looking at these videos during important meetings…). You stop ‘sweating the small stuff’, unless it involves the consistency of your baby’s poo. Work becomes a little less serious, and just a little more fun, along with the rest of life. Of course, working whilst being an active dad has some professional downsides. Namely, an acceptance that I would have to operate in the office with at least 30 fewer IQ points (I think that just about reflects my inability to form proper sentences in meetings). My co-workers are (usually) polite enough not to comment on the bags under my eyes or the unkempt mess of my beard. And I have so far received no comments on the marks of baby vomit I find on my clothes around lunch time.
Whilst the office still takes up most of the days, I had a lot of time with Little Bear, taking every Friday off, and having ‘Pappa-bebis tid’ (Swedish for daddy-baby time) for 2 hours every morning when I woke up. This became more and more fun as he started to smile with excited eyes every time I great him with a ‘god morgon plutten!’ (morning little ‘plop’) at 5:40am (because that’s when he decides to wake up). These morning hours have been great, and I’m sure mum will be enjoying ‘Mamma-bebis tid’ in the morning from Tuesday.
So all around you feel messier, more tired, and slower in the office than before. But at the same time things are just better. I’m looking forward to seeing how Little Bear's mum will manage with it, just as much as she’ll be looking at me settle into the full-time parenting role.
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