"The kids are hellions and holy terrors at times, but fundamentally are comfortable with me. Mostly we have lots of fun and I never anticipated what a gratifying feeling it would be to hear the baby crying for 'Da Da' on the monitor in the middle of the night!"
Kevin Wilson. I've taken two parental leaves, one each for my two sons (now 4 ½ and 1 ½ years old). I stumbled onto the parental leave path when I unwittingly became a male feminist at the age of 18 to meet women. At the time, I had no idea the implications these values would have later down the road. Then suddenly, I was married to a feminist and expected to share the workload at home.
Later when kids were anticipated and planning was underway, I liked the idea of parental leave to bond. My wife is a capable professional and I wanted to keep her engaged in the workforce. I am not sure I fully realized it would be on-the-job training for me.
For my both my leaves, I worked 1-2 days per week and was primary caregiver for the other 3-4 weekday. This arrangement lasted for several months. With both our extended families living out-of-town, it allowed my wife the opportunity to transition back to work smoothly, and we were able to bridge the time until we felt the children were old enough to be in daycare. I was also able to stay plugged into my own work, though it certainly was a culture shift for older colleagues.
We now both work and both kids are in daycare. Things are busy. Parental leave has ensured a fairly even distribution of household labour. My wife does the heathcare, daycare, child administration, and worrying (mental labour, gentlemen). I do more than my share of cleaning up (toys, clothing, beds, dishes, vacuuming, bathrooms, poop, nearly every bath). It's a balance that works for our family.
Importantly, my wife's career means she has to take bi-monthly trips and is often away for several days at a time. Those early months of parental leave helped me get confident with bathtime, bedtime, feeding, daycare drop-offs, and all-round nurturing. The kids are hellions and holy terrors at times, but fundamentally are comfortable with me. Mostly we have lots of fun and I never anticipated what a gratifying feeling it would be to hear the baby crying for “Da Da” on the monitor in the middle of the night!