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Is anyone else planning on sharing parental leave with dp/h?

(31 Posts)
qumquat Sat 12-Oct-13 18:43:22

I haven't met or come across anyone else who is doing this and I'd love to find some others. I'm really surprised and quite upset (from a more political, equality of the sexes perspective) it's not more popular. I can only see upsides myself but everyone looks at me like I'm a lunatic when I mention it, or says things like 'sh, dont tell my dh that's possible' (which makes my blood boil) Surely wanting dp to have the chance to be a full time dad for a couple of months isn't that mad? And when I go back to work I think I'll find it so much easier leaving dc with dp for the first couple of months and not having to deal with the double whammy of work and childcare at the same time. Is anyone else out there planning the same? Not looking for a political discussion, just would love to know I'm not alone!

RegainingUnconsciousness Sat 12-Oct-13 18:49:23

We just missed this with DS, and aren't currently planning any more DC but we would definitely consider it if we have a second.

In fact, I think there are new changes coming in 2015 to allow greater flexibility.

I think a colleague did have her DH off for a bit when she returned to work. They both now work part time too and truly share the parenting/earning. They're a great example all round really!

Shellywelly1973 Sat 12-Oct-13 19:02:57

From a personal point of view of course it all should be equal, its 2013...

Now im in the situation where I've been self employed for the last few months so my maternity pay is almost nonexistent. I earn more then dp now but when I had my last dc, dp earned much more then me. We can't afford to take months off with this dc. It will about 1 month between his paternity leave & my leave.

Personally in an ideal world of course it should be equal. The reality is men can't carry a baby, give birth or breastfeed.

The reality is the mortgage & bills need to be paid. Whoever earns the most needs to work, its unfortunately often the man who earns more.

Maybe the next generation will really be equal...

jasminerose Sat 12-Oct-13 19:07:06

Me and dh took the first 3 months off together with dc1. That was really nice. Now we both work full time on similar wages with me in a management role and him in a supervisory role. He does all the childcare when hes around and Im at work.

A lot of people cant afford splitting leave, but a large amount of working couples I kniw have it so parents share equal care

greentshirt Sat 12-Oct-13 19:17:33

Absolutely not, its what i've been waiting for all my working life! (this is a joke, dont get your blood simmering!)

My DH earns a good salary (more than twice as much as me and I earn plenty) and we have been saving too so as well as taking a year off for maternity im also going to take advantage of my works career break policy and have an additional 9 months off unpaid. If the situation was the other way around and there was such a big difference between me being the high earner and him the lower I would definitely consider swapping the time.

We are all very lucky that we have the option to choose.

pizzaqueen Sat 12-Oct-13 19:18:55

I'd consider this if we have another dc.

At the moment DP looks after DS in the mornings when I'm at work andvthen nursery in afternoon when DP works.

We were lucky that DP managed to take 2 months off when ds was born then worked reduced shifts for a while after that.

I wonder how it would work with breastfeeding? And mat pay? My employer only offers statutory but DPs employer offers three months fullpay. would he be entitled to that too? So we'd be better off if he was at home than me. I'm not sure the final details have all been worked out....

qumquat Sat 12-Oct-13 21:23:16

Thanks for your thoughts. We don't plan on dp taking over till after 6 months so less of an issue with breast feeding. Dp does earn significantly more than me but we think it's worth the financial sacrifice - I know we're lucky to be able to afford that sacrifice. But I know several couples where the woman earns more but they're still not considering it, even though the woman is planning on taking a full year's leave. Of course it's everyone's individual choice but it makes me sad.

I also think part of the reason men earn more is because women do the lion's share of childcare, I have a vain hope that men taking more paternity leave should help to change family dynamics and the assumption that 'committed' workers don't have childcare responsibilities. But sadly I don't see that changing any time soon.

I admit I'm quite emotional on this because my dad did the lion's share of childcare for me when I was little. When he died when i was a teenager, so many of my friends commented that they barely knew their fathers. I know it doesn't have to require paternity leave to have an involved dad, but in this day and age I found that pretty depressing.

I'm getting dangerously close to my soap box now so I'll shut up!

TheBeanpole Sat 12-Oct-13 22:29:00

We're doing this. DC1 due in December. I'll be taking 7 months off- to get to six months of breastfeeding, and then DP will take over. When the year is up he will go part time at work too. I might compress my week, not sure yet.

I do earn a fair bit more than he does, but that's not the primary consideration- we have enough savings I could take the year if we wanted. It's important to us from an equity perspective, establishing shared care early on, and we both think it's important we use the legislation. I also really enjoy my challenging job and think I will probably have the easier time of it when I go back- coffee in peace!

People have been nothing but supportive when we 've told them, and a fair few have said they would have done it if the law had changed earlier. I have found it weird, though, that I am constantly asked how long I am taking off. DP hasn't been asked ONCE. But he really enjoys telling people. ..

CrispyFB Sat 12-Oct-13 22:48:24

I'm a SAHM, but when I worked, we both earned similar, and it would have been great back then. I think it's also extremely handy for the situations where the woman earns more (as I did for most of our relationship until I became a SAHM)

Sadly it's of no use to me now. I'm a SAHM and even if I walked back into a job tomorrow, DH would be earning four times what I could get as his career really took off just as mine turned into dealing with nappies. It would make no financial sense and we couldn't spare the money.

However I am very glad there is now the option for other families in better situations.

kernowmissvyghen Sat 12-Oct-13 23:11:00

We did it. We swapped over at 8 months. I breastfed until DS was nearly 2, it really wasn't a problem. (he did feed half the night at first, though...)I'm pretty sure the mother has to take the first 2 months, which is to allow time for establishing breastfeeding and physical recovery. It really gets my goat when people trot out lame arguments about men not being able to breastfeed as though it's proof that nature has made it impossible for men to care for their own children! Really, once you're through the initial constant feeding phase, it is a non-issue, surely. Not to mention that the majority of people don't breastfeed for very long anyway!

It was incredibly easy to arrange, just one simple form to fill in and sign a few months before you planned to swap over the mat/paternity duties. As far as I recall, the second person takes over rights to maternity pay etc as if you were the same person, so no additional benefits but no losses either. Of course, you might get individual workplaces offering more, but we both work in the public sector and were only eligible for the statutory minimum.

We now both work reduced hours and take turns when covering things like child illness, which works really well for us and means we are both an equal(ly small) burden to our employers!

Child number two is on the way, and we'll be doing the same again.

Slightly different subject, but I am truly amazed that most of you have said that your DP earns significantly more than you. Really? How come? Assuming the majority of people are in a relationship with someone of roughly similar educational and social background, with similar length of time since entering the job market, how have you have ended up earning significantly less? (I am genuinely interested, not having a go at anyone- are there reasons for the pay gap other than sexist employers and lower pay for "women's work"?)

Suzietwo Sat 12-Oct-13 23:24:57

I'm self employed so if anyone is taking leave, it's him!

greentshirt Sun 13-Oct-13 11:16:13

On the subject of differences in salary, I think there comes a point where over a certain amount there isnt the gap in social background etc and the difference in money doesnt mean that much. I earn enough in my own right that I could support me, my DH and a baby and we would have a nice lifestyle. He earns more than twice as much but the lifestyle is still similar because you only want so much anyway. Where we live for example, even him earning that much wouldnt have bought us an extra bedroom, more space etc, the gap to the next jump is just too big. His salary to mine is only the difference between a slightly better car, slightly better holiday etc for us not being able to pay the bills or not, which I think is the sort of gap you mean?

I suppose it changes again when you get into another bracket, where there is a whole different set of skills required to earn that much money so then you see the same sorts of gaps but on a different scale.

Am I making any sense whatsoever? im struggling to articulate it!

puddleduck16 Sun 13-Oct-13 13:48:31

I earn a lot more that hubby. So this is something that we are considering. I'm hoping that his career takes off though so I can spend more time at home.
I suppose this all depends on how long we can make our savings last!!!

shellsocks Sun 13-Oct-13 14:21:50

I can only speak anecdotally based on my experience but I couldn't have left my baby, especially in the early months whereas DH was much more emotionally able to work than me. He found it easier to leave DS to go to work whereas I just wanted to be with him all the time. I don't know but I suppose I assumed this was part of our evolutionary make up as he certainly would have loved to have the time off with DS as much as me.

Obviously if for reasons such as finances etc. I would have had to work then I would of but I know I would have found it a lot tougher emotionally than DH so maybe that is part of what drives some peoples decisions.

qumquat Sun 13-Oct-13 14:24:59

I'm so pleased I started this thread! I have genuinely only met with complete bafflement and incredulity when I have attempted to bring this up in real life. I actually avoid mentioning it at all now, which I hate myself for, but I've been finding the reaction hard to deal with. I was actually scared of setting up the thread in case I got the same; this has made me feel so much better!!!

Regarding salaries, DP earns more than me because he has worked in the same job for 10 years, whereas I recently changed careers. Also, I'm a teacher and he makes trash TV - which is unfortunately valued much more highly . . .
I think the income gap often doesn't exist exist until a couple has children. Then she, for example, takes a year's maternity leave and misses out on payrise, while he continues to progress. Then the routine of her being main care giver has been established, so when an opportunity for promotion comes up, she doesn't take it because she is too busy, while he now feels responsible for the family's finances so goes for every promotion going. And so on. So the situation of dad working all hours and mum earning significantly less is set up. Rinse and repeat for any further children. Obviously the effects are even more stark if she goes part time. This is why I think shared parental leave is so fundamental to changing the pay disparity in the UK, as well as the disparity of attachment between mothers and children and fathers and children.

Regarding the logistics it's dead simple. The pay calculations are the same. We are planning on me taking 7 months and him 2 (we can't afford longer). I will get my 90% followed by 50% followed by SMP, then when he takes over he will get SMP until it runs out then nothing, just as I would. I don't think the father can take over before 20 weeks so the early calculations aren't relevant. The HR department at his work are very supportive. He actually only needs to give 8 weeks notice, even if he is were taking 6 months off (which the HR dept were a little alarmed to discover!). He has told them well in advance though. It is scary because there's always the fear it may impact on his career and how seriously he is taken in the office (just as with women), but that's why I really hope lots of men take up this opportunity as it should help to change attitudes in the workplace, and reduce discrimination against women of childbearing age.

Sorry for the essay. x

VinegarDrinker Sun 13-Oct-13 14:52:51

I am all for it but it needs to move towards companies offering paternity packages more akin to maternity. We can't live off SMP + one salary and that is the same regardless of which of us is off. So I'll be going back at 6m as I did last time.

We do both work PT and share childcare, though. We both think we have the best of both worlds. I'm surprised more couples don't consider it.

40WeekWait Sun 13-Oct-13 16:06:59

We're doing this. I'm taking 6 months leave and DH will take 3. I earn more than he does so it makes sense financially. It also sets the tone for how I hope things will be split in the future in terms of responsibility for child care. I don't want anyone (DH included) to assume that I am automatically the main child care just because I am female!

bsmirched Sun 13-Oct-13 16:22:52

We're doing this - also glad you started this OP as I haven't found anyone who's done it either!
I'm a teacher but DH is an upholsterer, so he earns a lot less than me. He is taking over from 20 weeks - I'm a teacher and we couldn't pay the mortgage etc if I went down to just SMP, but we can take the hit with DH's salary. I get the same package as you and am technically returning at 18 wks, which coincides with the Christmas holidays, which is when the 50% + SMP finishes.
I am breastfeeding and am hoping to build up some frozen supplies for the daytime. If that doesn't work out, then he may have to have some formula during the day.

Anothermrssmith Sun 13-Oct-13 16:55:05

Qumquat I'M really glad you started this thread as well!! My husband read something about this in his employee handbook when he was checking their paternity leave policy and I admit, while I liked the idea, I was pretty dismissive of it (although him saying take 2 months and he'd have the rest as a joke didn't help sell me on it!) but you've all just made me realise that as I'm only planning on taking 7 months maternity leave he could use the remaining 2. We've been stressing already about the cost of childcare as we have no family near by and while we could probably afford it I really cant see myself as a SAHM, it's not that I'm particularly career driven or anything it's just a work to live as opposed to live to work and think I would go crazy being at home all the time. Our flat is on the market but it has been for over a year and only 2 viewings in that time and no signs of it selling anytime soon, the plan is to move back to our hometown to be closer to family, this could give us some extra time to do that.

TheBeanpole Sun 13-Oct-13 18:53:40

In my very unscientific sample of my mates, I'd say about 80% of the couples have women as the higher earner. We're none of us investment bankers, but just seem to have cracked on a bit better. We're among the first to have a baby so I will be interested to see what happens as more do, and whether that dynamic is maintained.

I think I read only about 2% of couples have taken this up in the first year, so we will all be in the minority for a while. vinegardrinker totally agree on the need for a change in the parental leave package as a whole. If you're interested I very much recommend reading Rebecca Asher's 'shattered' which explores this very well. It's interesting that in the much cited Swedish parental leave utopia, many fathers didn't take their leave until the government earmarked a set number of weeks for fathers, or they would be lost. It's now the norm and almost all fathers take it. There's a lot more going on than salary in the choices that people make in terms of expectations of specific roles.

randdom Sun 13-Oct-13 20:11:25

I do think this is a really good idea and I think for future pregnancies we may consider it. At the moment with this pregnancy we aren't going to. The main reason is that my job while paying more involves lots of weekends and nights even if working part time. We feel that in total we would have more time together as a family if my husband worked his 9-5 and I was off. In a couple of years my abnormal hours will reduce so for a second child it might be more feasible

Mogz Sun 13-Oct-13 20:51:31

We would love to do this but as DH is currently contracting he's only been able to secure 2 weeks, which his employer is not legally obliged to give him so we are thankful they have. We are hoping that over Christmas and New Year as there is usually a lull DH will be able to either do shorter days or work from home more. He is so excited about this baby he's looking in to any possible way to be home more.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 13-Oct-13 21:29:28

We are definitely thinking about this - I am due April '14. With DS1 (5 years ago) I was able to save loads of money and take a year's ML while keeping a reasonable lifestyle - thanks to a promotion and pay rise. However this time we have double the mortgage, childcare costs and higher costs of living all round, so at the moment I am looking at around 6 months ML with hopefully DH doing a few weeks / months.

I earn more than DH - though his income is still considerable - and I work for a corporate behemoth so benefits are much better. The only thing that might scupper it, is his plan to move companies and the industry he works in is very traditional. I really hope he can get some parental leave - even a couple of weeks would be good as he is much better with babies than me smile and it is so nice when they are little to be spending time at baby groups, parks and cafes - I have such fond memories of ML and would love if DH could have a bit of that experience.

Blankiefan Sun 13-Oct-13 21:37:35

We're doing this. I'm going back after 6 months then DH is taking 2 months. As well as letting him bond more with the baby, the main reason he's doing it is to make my return a bit easier. Like a PP said, I won't have to worry about "abandoning" the baby to childcare at the same time as I have to re-engage my brain at work!

(he's a great man - v. Thoughtful... although, he thinks he's going to be pushing the sleeping baby down to the pub most lunchtimes so he can have a pint and read the paper... Am looking forward to hearing how that goes!!)

Thants Sun 13-Oct-13 21:39:24

Yes I would definitely do this if dp weren't self employed. It seems great.

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