Shared Parental Leave. Story #1 - SIMON, lawyer & policy adviser for the UK Gov
Updated: Nov 10
Are mums and dads equally good caregivers? The answer is - not the same, but equally good. Dads can be great caregivers, they just need time and space to become confident and competent in it.
In her fantastic book "Overwhelmed", Brigid Schulte concludes that both men and women are, biologically, "naturals" when it comes to caring for children. It's just that the culture has always expected and given women the time to become good at it. Dads can be great caregivers, they just need time & space to become confident and competent in it. They need experience of flying solo as the baby’s primary caregiver. Having this experience not only creates a secure attachment to both parents, but also improves couple and family relationships.
I met three dads, all lawyers (working for the government, in-house and in private practice), who took 3-4 months of shared parental leave and noticed how it strengthened their father-baby bond and created a positive shift in their couple and family relationships.
These dads now want to inspire more dads to take shared parental leave.
This is Story #1.
Back in 2017, my friend Simon took three months off when his baby girl was six months old. Simon and his wife are both lawyers and at the time Simon worked a senior policy advisor for the Department for International Trade in London. They had no family close by to help with the newborn. His wife wanted to go back to work six months after their girl was born and they decided to share the leave.
Simon was the first of our group of friends to take shared parental leave and he started to blog about his experience in a brilliantly humorous and at the same time insightful manner, calling it Paternity Pearls.
In his blog Simon talks about the stress of the first week, being the only dad at playgroups, building your social network, finding your role as a dad, finding time for exercise and more. Check it out here.
In the UK, we are lucky to have shared parental leave and flexible working available to both parents. Use them to benefit you as a parent, your couple and your family.
Read two more dads' stories to get insights and inspiration:
If you want to review your career trajectory after mat leave,
are considering flexible working,
struggle with life choices and are stuck in overwhelm, or
you face a health challenge,