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2013 – a year in review

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I was flattered to be mentioned in the ‘2013 – a year in review’ post by John Adams of DadBlogUK. It’s always flattering to receive this sort of compliment from a fellow blogger, especially one has so much to contribute to debates about what it means to be a dad and parent today.

Another reason that I was pleased to have been mentioned in John’s post is that it helped me to decide what  would blog about this week. This is what I am supposed to do as I have decided to participate in this ‘2013 – a year in review series’ (…if I’ve tagged you in this post, please feel free to follow suit or not as you see fit, I appreciate that you may have a whole series of other posts lined up for the next while):

1. In your post, be sure to link back and thank the blogger that previously tagged you

2. Answer the questions below and tag at least 5 other bloggers

3. Include the badge in your post

Right, here are my answers to the questions that the other bloggers who have participated in this chain of post have answered:

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1. Your top 5 new favourite blogs to read in 2013

 As I only started blogging in June of last year, I’ve gone for five blogs that were new to me even though they may have been up and running for a while:

– Stephen Greene’s Head of the Heard. Stephen is from England but lives in Brazil with his wife and son. His blog is full of fascinating insights on Brazillian life and culture as well as humour and reflections about bringing up their child bilingually. As a fellow bilingualparent, I find this last topic particularly interesting.

– Olga Mecking’s European Mama. Olga is another parent blogger who has moved from one country to another, being originally from Poland and now living in the Netherlands. On her blog, she discusses topics such as multilingualism, traditions and cultures around the world and also general issues to do with parenting.

– Dean Beaumont’s DaddyNatal. Dean is the founder of DaddyNatal, whose tag line is ‘practical, memorable and enjoyable antenatal education for men, by men’. He is also the first professional male antenatal educator in the UK. I first heard about him and his organisation after my mum mentioned that she heard him take part in a discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. I love his upbeat focus on what it means to be a man and a dad, and this really struck a chord with me around the time when I was about to become a dad.

– Tom Briggs’s Diary of the Dad. Tom has a real knack when it comes to writing humorous posts about all sorts of things with which a lot of parents will identify. The anecdotes that he recounts about being a dad often have me chuckling away in front of my computer. He has also discussed various topical issues to do with parenting, children and families.

– Leanna Guillen Mora’s All Done Monkey. In addition to running a lively and fun blog where she discusses bilingual and bicultural parenting, Leanna is also one of the main people behind Multicultural Kid Blogs, a group of bloggers who are interesting in topics such as raising kids to be aware of a variety of different cultures and languages. This group is always coming up with fun projects to do with parenting such as online book clubs and is also full of articles about all sorts of different traditions and cultures around the world.

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2. List your 5 most read blog posts of 2013

1. Being a Bilingual Parent. In this post, I talked about why my wife and I have decided to bring up our son bilingually using Welsh and English. We live in Wales and have found this to be quite a fun challenge as neither of us grew up speaking Welsh but we have both learnt the language since moving here.

2. It’s International Baby Wearing Week, so we went to Sling. My wife and I both enjoy carrying our sun about in a variety of different sorts of slings. We also live only a few miles from a small village called Sling. It only seemed right to go there to mark International Baby Wearing Week and take some photos of us with our son in a sling next to the Sling road sign. As well as this random silliness, this post contains some really interesting input from bloggers in different countries about attitudes to babywearing around the world.

3. Parenting clubs shouldn’t just be for mums. I wrote this piece due to my frustration at how the parenting clubs run by some big chains of shops in the UK seem to devote very little focus on the fact that dads are parents too and can play a positive role in the raising a family. I called for dads to be more visible in materials the ‘parenting’ materials produced by some such parenting clubs that focus almost exclusively on mums.

4. Baby ‘essentials’ – things that you’re told you need but could probably do without. In September of last year, a Saturday newspaper in the UK ran a feature entitled ‘The 50 best baby essentials’. I saw a lot of the items on the list as expensive luxury items that it is fairly easy to live without, so I wrote this post in response (…after counting to ten, sitting down and waiting for steam to stop coming out of my ears).

5. 6 things I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent. In this post, I took stock of what I had learned about parenting in the half year following the birth of our son. After writing this post, I really enjoyed hearing other parents let me know what they had quickly learned about parenting after their arrival of their children. I’m constantly learning all sorts of things about parenting as our son grows up and now do a post each month in which I reflect on the lighter side of being a parent. The most recent one is entitled 9 thoughts from my 9th as a parent.

3. Name one blog you wish you had found sooner

Scott Behson’s blog Fathers, Work and Family is one that I always love reading due to the way in which it combines being thought provoking, practical and highly engaging. Scott describes his blog as one that ‘is dedicated to supporting work-family balance for fathers’. So much of what he says strikes a real chord with me as I continue to try to do my best to balance work and family life. If you’ve read any of the posts that I’ve written on here about paternity leave, you’ll probably realise that this something that I see as a really important issue.

4. Your favourite blog post of 2013

If this means my favourite post from 2013 of those that I wrote here, I’d probably have to say that it’s one entitled What parenting and game shows have in common. It was quite a fun post to write, especially as the writing process involved watching YouTube clips of some of game shows such as Catchphrase, Going for Gold and Takeshi’s Castle that I used to love watching.

If I had to nominate the blog post that I most enjoyed reading as opposed to writing in 2013, it would have to be one entitled Dad, are we poor? from Aaron Gouveia’s blog Daddy Files. It provided a really poignant focus on striking a balance between earning money to support one’s family and spending time with one’s family.

5. What would you like to improve (if anything) on your blog next year?

I keep wanting to improve the layout and visual aspect of this blog. I think it’s improved a bit since I added the pictures under the title. I’m also trying to become a bit more focused when it comes to the types of posts I do. Each month, I plan to do a post about languages and cultures, one about what I’ve learned about parenting that month, a topical post and one or two others on whatever takes my fancy.

6. Name one blog you have a blog crush on

Hmm. Having a crush on a blog seems a bit of an odd notion to me, especially as I am now in my mid-thirties. I don’t think that there were anywhere near as many blogs around when I was of an age to have crushes.

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7. How often do you post?

When I started this blog in June 2013, I was planning to post twice a week but this swiftly became once a week so as I had more time to read other parent blogs and also make sure that I was being a parent in addition to blogging about it.

8. Share your first post of 2013

Despite being just under 9 months old at the time, our son was kind enough to write a guest post entitled Baby’s first Christmas in which he gave his perspective on what December 25th 2013 was like. I am hoping that he will do occasional guest posts on my blog during 2014 and will be bribing him with blueberries and apple rings.

9. Name one thing you would be doing if you weren’t typing this post right now

I’d probably be reading a newspaper.

 

10. What have you loved the most about blogging this year?

I was really flattered to learn in the last few days of 2013 that I’d made it onto the shortlist for the Best Newcomer prize of the Love All Dads blog awards. As the result was annouced earlier this week, I can’t really tell you about it was revealed during 2014. Here’s a link if you want to find out though.

However, I don’t see blogging as being just an individual thing. I really loved being part of groups such as the Dad Bloggers Facebook group, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Kid Bloggers Network, DadzClub and LoveAllDads. It’s great that they exist and provide a supportive environment for parents and parent bloggers. There are so many great blogs out there and I am delighted to have discovered so many over the course of the last year.

What do you think of this post and what were your highlights of 2013? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it 

 

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UK Paternity Leave Changes: 5 key issues

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2013-04-24 18.26.42Major changes to the UK paternal leave system were announced last week that will make it easier for both parents to share almost a year of leave. Two weeks of leave will be specifically reserved for the mother in the period immediately following the birth, but it will be possible for the remaining 50 weeks to be split between both parents in the manner that they wish. This story was major news last Friday and the subject of articles in The Guardian, The Independent and on the BBC News website.

I have previously given my own views on the current UK paternity leave system on this blog and pointed towards some things that I would like to see change. I have also talked about what I learned during my two weeks of paternity leave. Although I welcome the general direction in which the changes are heading and the way that they have been framed by politicians such as Jo Swinson (Secretary of State for Women and Equalities) and Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister), I do feel that there are five key issues that need to be examined when discussing the likely impact of the proposed new parental leave system:

1. What happens prior to birth needs to be addressed more fully. As I have said previously, a major failing of the current paternity leave system is that men are not entitled to time off to accompany their partner to antenatal appointments. For this reason, it is good to hear that the new proposals mean that men will be allowed time off to attend two antenatal appointments. After attending the standard 12 week and 20 week scans, this leaves no time to attend antenatal classes. I see this as a major issue given the importance of antenatal classes to first time parents and the role that they can play in reassuring dads-to-be and mums-to-be about the challenges that lie ahead when it comes to childbirth and adapting to life as parents.

2. As union leader Frances O’Grady has stated, greater incentives could be provided in order to encourage men to take more paternity leave. In some countries in Scandinavia, there is a ‘use it or lose it’ approach that means that a certain number of weeks are assigned to the dad to take as paternity leave and cannot be transferred to the mother. In other words, a dad’s decision to take paternity leave helps to increase the overall amount of paternal leave a couple can take. It is also important to note that the present UK system means that a man can currently take two weeks of paternity leave and a women can take 52 weeks of maternity leave (some of which can be transferred to the dad after the 6 month mark). This adds up to 54 weeks but the new system will reduce the total leave available to a couple to 52 weeks.

2013-03-24 13.56.513. The Financial support for those taking parental leave needs to be increased if more dads are to take paternity leave and more parents are to take their full entitlement. Currently, women are paid 90% of their pre-tax wage for the first six weeks of their maternity leave and then the lower out of 90% of their wage or £136.78 (which generally means being paid £136.78) for the next 33 weeks and the remainder of the 52 week maximum is unpaid leave. Paternity leave is generally paid at a statutory minimum of £136.78, although some employers top this up. This means that it makes more sense from a purely financial perspective for men to take two weeks of holiday after their partner gives birth rather than taking paternity leave.

4. More needs to be done to get business leaders onside. American business professor and blogger Scott Behson has talked about the benefits of flexible working on his blog Fathers Work and Family, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was last week quoted in The Independent as saying that ‘many businesses already recognise how productive and motivated employees are when they’re given the opportunity to work flexibly, helping them retain talent and boost their competitive edge’. However, the UK’s Institute of Directors described the changes as ‘a nightmare’ and expressed concern at both the complexity and difficulties of implementing the changes from the perspective of businesses (see article on BBC News website).

5. Leading figures in the Conservative Party do not support the changes. The key figures that have talked up the new plans for paternal leave in the UK, such as Jo Swinson and Nick Clegg, are both from the Liberal Democrats (the junior partners in the UK’s coalition government). Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats’ leader, apparently wanted to see initial paternity leave extended from four weeks to two weeks, but this was rejected by government colleagues. Several articles about the changes, such as this one from The Guardian have listed senior Conservative ministers who are opposed to the changes.

2013-06-12 10.20.55Even though the coalition government has not really given its full backing to the changes, I am glad to see that the Liberal Democrats have helped to bring about the imperfect but improved new system. The Lib Dems have taken some flak for abandoning some of their flagship policies since entering government (e.g. opposition to large increases in university tuition fees). This has led to a joke about a person who phones the Lib Dem headquarters and explains that he would like to buy a copy of the party manifesto. When they are told ‘I’m sorry, we’ve sold out’ by the person on the other of the phone, their reply is ‘I know, but I’d still like to buy a copy of the manifesto’.

Now, I would like to see both Liberal Democrat and Conservative members of the government doing more to get business leaders onside for the sake of dads, mums and families. It is a real shame that certain business leaders have denounced work place flexibility without acknowledging that it can have benefits both for employees and businesses. I feel that striving towards a decent work life balance helps me to be as involved a parent as I can be and means that I am more content and productive when I am at work.

What is the parental leave system like where you live and how happy are you with it? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

 

There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it! Here’s the pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/428827195740201335/

 

I’ve linked this post up with the #PoCoLo parent bloggers link-up hosted on Verily Victoria Vocalises.

Parenting clubs shouldn’t just be for mums

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In the run up to becoming a dad in April, I joined several ‘parenting’ clubs run by big brands that provide special offers for parents. However, I’ve been dismayed to see that some of these clubs could be doing a lot more to engage dads as well as mums. Reading an article that Darell Milton (a.k.a. Modern Dad Online) wrote on his blog back in July of this year made clear to me that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I’ve written twice to the supermarket Tesco about this issue but have not received a reply. Here’s an extract from one of my e-mails that summarizes the issues that I have with their Baby and Toddler Club:

I recently joined the Tesco Baby & Toddler club as my wife and I are expecting a baby in April. Having just been on to the website link accessible through my Clubcard account, it seems that the Baby & Toddler club is very much focused on mothers and babies and largely ignores fathers. I find this disappointing and believe that it represents an overly stereotypical and outdated attitude towards parenting. I intend to play an active role in bringing up our child along with my wife, but feel somewhat excluded by the limited focus of the Baby & Toddler club. Such an approach both fails to acknowledge that men are increasingly playing a greater role in parenting and does little to encourage men who may feel reluctant about doing so. There needs to be a focus on Parents’ choice and not just Mums’ choice.

I would be most grateful if you could explain why the Tesco Baby & Toddler club fails to focus on fatherhood (or parenthood in general) as well as motherhood. I would also like to hear what steps you intend to take in order to make the Tesco Baby & Toddler club more inclusive and less gender-specific in the future.


To be fair to Tesco’s Baby Club, they do appear to be taking some steps in the right direction when it comes to including more features about or by dads. There is now a brief article entitled ‘How to be a good dad‘ and a longer and more useful looking one entitled ‘Top tips for dads-to-be‘. However, the section of the Tesco Baby Club entitled ‘Your family entitlements and benefits‘ makes no reference to paternity leave. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that paternity leave is a topic about which I feel quite passionate; I’ve given my views on the UK paternity leave system and talked about what I learned when I was on paternity leave.

One of my other main gripes is that the Tesco Baby Club offers section features the slogan ‘Making mums’ lives easier’. Whilst I fully appreciate that childbirth and pregnancy can provide many challenges that are felt most acutely by the mother, I’d have preferred to see a phrase like ‘making families’ lives easier’. Although some of the products on offer at the time of writing included shampoo and shower gel that one would most likely find in the women’s toiletries aisle, it also included different sorts of products in the categories ‘baby’, ‘toddler’ and ‘family life’. The ‘family life’ section included items such as razors and deodorant that would be found in the men’s toiletries aisle.

Recently, I thought that the Boots Parenting Club (Boots is the name of a well-known UK pharmacist) had started to turn over a new leaf when it came to trying to engage dads. The letter to me that accompanied their free magazine, began with the following words before talking up a variety of promotional offers:

What a thrilling time to be a dad.. All those experiences, all those ‘firsts’

However, the focus of the accompanying ‘parenting’ magazine was somewhat disappointing, and not just because it featured the slogan ‘making life easier for mum’ as the main tag line on the front cover. In the 52-page magazine, there was one picture of a dad and a mum with a baby compared to 22 pictures of mums with babies or young children. There was not a single picture of a simply a dad with a baby or child. In addition, there were many features where women talked about their experiences of being mums but none where men talked about their experiences of being dads.

When I see the sort of narrow focus on parenting that I’ve described here,  I feel that I – as a dad – am effectively being excluded. I may be working full-time while my wife is taking charge of more of the childcare, but I’m doing my best to achieve a work life balance that allows me to be as committed and involved a dad and a husband as I can be. I just wish that more big companies out there would realise that I am one of a great many dads who are striving to do this.

In addition, I am also aware of quite a few stay at home dads who are taking the lead with childcare whilst their wife or partner is out at work. Their experiences also need to be more prominent within materials about parenting. The same goes for adoptive or foster parenting and same sex couples who are bringing up kids.

To end on a positive note, I am glad to see that some companies are reaching out to dads and demonstrating a decent level of sensitivity and understanding where fatherhood is concerned. Within the last month alone, I’ve read articles from Huffington Post, The National Fatherhood Initiative and Scott Behson’s Fathers, Work and Family blog that discuss companies that have made commercials that provide positive and empowering representations of dads. I hope that it won’t belong before more brands follow suit by also focusing on the role that mums and dads play in parenting.

What did you think of this article? Are there in companies that are particularly good or bad when it comes to reaching out to dads when it comes to either their advertising or materials about parenting that they produce? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

 

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it!

I’ve linked this blog post up with the ‘Something for the Weekend’ parent bloggers link-up hosted by The Voice of Sarah Miles and Diary of the Dad, and also the #PoCoLo link-up hosted by Verily Victoria Vocalises.

Happiness and being a parent

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This week I’m looking at what happiness means from my perspective as a new parent.

I was initially motivated to write this post by a blogging carnival on the theme of ‘Happiness around the world’ being organised by Multicultural Kid Blogs and hosted by Giselle Shardlow of the blog Kids Yoga Stories. The event got me thinking about what happiness means, especially within a family context.

As fate would have it, whilst thinking about writing this post I read an article from BBC News about how there had been a slight increase in overall happiness here in the United Kingdom over the last year. As well as health, employment and relationship status, the article speculated that one-off events such as the 2012 London Olympics may have played their part.

On  a personal level, I’d say that getting married and going on honeymoon to Andalucia in Spain played a bigger role in my overall happiness as did the news that our first child was on the way.  As my wife works in conservation, I’d joked during my speech that I’d heard some of her colleagues would be heading off to the Olympics on a tractor with a load of wooden posts and barbed wire… to take part in the fencing competition.  That’s probably one of my better jokes and may go some way to explaining why my wife jokingly said in her speech that she was marrying me ‘despite my sense of humour rather than because of it’.

The Olympics were in their own small way linked to one of our happiest pieces of news during the last year as getting emotional about some of the events was one of the signs that led my wife to wonder if she was pregnant. She phoned me to let me know that she was while I was on a work trip to Paris. The very same day, I went to see the French Olympic team travel down the Champs-Elysées on open-topped buses.

At times, I think that happiness is seen as being something that is overly seen as being accessed through the accumulation of wealth. Whilst money certainly can make life easier, I think it’s important to focus on the value of time spent together as it is something that money cannot buy.

This notion was brought poignantly in a recent post by Aaron Gouveia on the Daddy Files blog entitled Dad are we poor? One of his main points was that focusing on achieving a work life balance by working 45-50 hours per week, rather than 70-80 hours, allows him to spend valuable time with his family. For him, this is worth more than being able to buy a massive house, fancy car and always being able to buy his children the newest and most in demand toys.

As I’ve talked about in a previous post, taking my two weeks of paternity leave was very important to me. I was very lucky to have two weeks of leave on full pay due to the policy of my employer. This goes well beyond the statutory minimum of £137 per week that the state pays to fathers on paternity leave.

Being able to spend time with my son and my wife in the days following his birth was really special and I felt so happy to be able to be there and see him develop and help out however I could. It was also great to be able to go and do simple things as a family such as go to a cafe by the sea or for short walks in the local area.

At the same time as blogging about being a dad, I really enjoy reading other blogs that focus on issues such as well-being and work life balance. Such matters are closely linked to achieving happiness as a parent.

Like many articles on his blog Fathers, Work, Family, a recent post by Scott Behson entitled Regular Exercise Can Help Us Be Better Dads really struck a chord with me. It came at a time when I’d just started to try to get back into running, an activity that I’ve also found has helped me to feel good both physically and mentally.

I also loved the focus of a post on the Dad Down Under blog about the author’s decision to set himself a series of monthly challenges in order to ‘have [their] mind, body and soul firing on all cylinders’. This month, he’ll be aiming to read for 30 minutes every evening and go to bed by 9.30pm each night. Next month, his target is to do 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week. Of the twelve monthly challenges, I’ve identified at least six or seven that I will try to stick to myself. With the first one, I’m going to allow myself to go to bed by the slightly later time of 10pm but this is a reward for having recently increased my exercise levels 🙂

In the last week, I also listened to an old episode of the Dads Unplugged podcast in which the presenters discussed an article entitled Don’t Carpe Diem. In this article, the author argued that focusing on enjoying parenting masks challenges and difficulties and can make parents who don’t enjoy every moment feel inadequate.

Looking back at both our son’s birth and his first three months, I’d freely admit that there have been a few stressful or difficult moments. However, that is probably to be expected with something new that brings with it changes and added responsibilities. Overall, I would say that the last three months have more importantly also brought with them a new and exciting sort of happiness emanating from his daily presence. As I have said here, this time is one when I have thought a lot about what it means to be happy and how to achieve happiness.

I’d love to hear your views on this article, so please feel free to leave a comment below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen.

3 Thoughts about paternity leave

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IMAG0942In my last postI had my say on paternity leave entitlements. This time I’m taking a more personal look at the topic based on my own experiences. It seems that reflecting on paternity leave is a bit of an in thing at the moment. Facebook employee Tom Stocky recently posted about what he’d learnt during the four months of paternity leave that he was able to take  and his initial post has gone viral. In addition, Scott Behson has just posted a story about Major League Baseball players who have recently taken paternity leave on his blog Fathers, Work and Family.

Here are three thoughts based on my own experiences of paternity leave:

1. It’d be a real shame not to take paternity leave. On some levels, the idea of taking two weeks off during a time of year when I wouldn’t normally take a fortnight’s holiday seemed odd. There were also practical questions. What would I do about the work that I would normally be expected to do during the time that I was going to be off on paternity leave? When was the paternity leave going to actually fall and how would the timing affect my work?

However, the most important things were that I wanted to be able to take paternity leave in order to be able to support my wife and soon-to-arrive son / daughter. With living in the UK, this was thankfully a legal entitlement so not something to feel remotely guilty about. Indeed, I recently read that 90% of fathers in the UK opt to take the two weeks of paternity leave to which they are entitled. What was foremost in my mind was that we were preparing for a major life event and I wanted to be as much a part of it as I could.

I did take some practical steps to manage the work situation so as I wouldn’t be too swamped on my return from paternity leave. I worked extra hard during the last few months leading up to the birth of our son, mainly during times when my wife was going to aqua-natal classes, mindfulness classes or the local community choir. I also brought forward a few engagements that were likely to fall during the time when I was going to be on paternity leave. People were very understanding about this, which was a real help.

2. Paternity leave certainly isn’t a holiday. I had perhaps somewhat naively thought that I might have a moment or two to read through some things for work during my two weeks on paternity leave, but it didn’t happen (…which I reckon was a good thing in lots of ways!). Our son’s preferred napping position during the day was curled up on someone who was sitting on the sofa. This meant that either myself or my wife could be pinned down for two hours or more at a time. Moving without waking him felt a bit like playing Jenga or Buckaroo, except with greater pressure.

One thing that I found satisfying on a personal level during paternity leave was being able to go out and do simple practical things such as going to the supermarket or stocking up on baby supplies (…and not just because I managed to build up enough loyalty card points for several free slices of cake and a free lunch or two!). I had tried to be as supportive as possible during pregnancy and labour, but at times felt that there was only so much I could do as it was my wife who was experiencing the pains, tiredness and other effects that come with carrying and giving birth to a baby.

However, the most important thing for me was simply spending the quality time with my wife and son as we got used to life as a family. Seeing our son do all sorts of little things for the first time felt amazing. Helping to give him his first bath and going on our first family outing together to a little cafe by the sea just fifteen minutes away were particular highlights. As he hadn’t yet started smiling, I for some reason took great pleasure from taking pictures of him doing big yawns. I am also very proud of one picture where he appears to be imitating the pose that sprinter Usain Bolt did after winning the men’s 100m at last year’s Olympics. It was also great to have so many people both nearby and far away who were happy for us and shared our sense of excitement about his arrival and who communicated this to us during this period via cards, presents and e-mails.

3. Returning to work can be challenging. I normally come in to work feeling fresh in the morning, especially at the start of the week. However, things were a bit different when I came back from paternity leave. I had got used to having reduced and broken sleep during paternity leave but not the combination of these sleep patterns and putting in a normal day of work. I certainly felt a lot more tired when I got home after work.

In some ways, the hardest part was going from spending more or less all of every day with my wife and son to leaving while they were still asleep and not seeing them again until 6pm. That said, being a dad has given me an extra incentive to be productive, make sure I get what I need to done and have as little work as possible to take home at evenings and weekends.

My experience of returning to work has lead me to question the stereotypical notion that men on paternity leave often see heading back to work as a welcome return to normality or sanity. I was glad to hear this notion challenged by Dean Beaumont of DaddyNatal during an appearance on BBC Radio Four’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ back in January. ‘Normality’ is now being a father and trying to do my best in this role as well as in my job. Fatherhood has certainly brought plenty of new experiences and I would not have been able to experience these anywhere near as fully had I not taken paternity leave.

I’d love to know your views on paternity leave, so please feel free to use the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s the way I like it’ page on Facebook and the new ‘Dad’s the way I like it’ page on Google+. You can also subscribed to this blog via e-mail using the link on the right hand side of this page.

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