Kids are both in daycare today. Mom snuck home for lunch. I walked down the hill from work to join her. It’s the first time in I don’t know how long since the 2 of us have been alone in the house together with no kids.
No kids. Just her and I. Alone in the house. So naturally, we took advantage of the situation. She did the dishes and some telephone banking while I paid some bills, put away a bit of laundry and filed tax receipts. Before we knew it our time had passed and back to work we went.
You were expecting something else?
Sigh…how times have changed. But it was sure nice to carry on a running conversation with my wife in our kitchen without the constant tug at the pantleg or toodler mayhem raging in the background.
The Girl turns 4 today. A month ago, The Boy turned one. In between there was the month of December where Mom headed back to work after her 1 year mat leave and I (temporarily) stepped off the work track and climbed back in the SAHDle again.
It was only for a month, but I was looking forward to it with great anticipation. Too bad I didn’t follow my own rules, especially #1 – Lower Expectations.
The plan was supposed to be to not only spend time with the kids, but also begin acclimatizing The Boy to daycare in preparation for the new year when both my wife and I would be back at work. Along the way, The Girl was going to continue her 3 days a week routine at her preschool. It all looked good on paper, as they say. A few days a week with both the kids, a couple days with just The Boy and me and, depending on how the transition to daycare went, perhaps even a few days to myself in there.
Oh, how much I would get done! Imagine – having a full day to yourself? Oh the wonderful things that could be accomplished. Why, I could design a rocket ship, create a new high yielding crop that would triple the amount of food farmers could get off their land, and maybe even cure a horrible disease. And then after lunch I could paint the living room, watch the entire first season of the BBC’s version of The Office and catch up on all those 2006 World Cup soccer matches I recorded but never got around to watching.
Yes, I had plans. However, the plan I needed the most was a contingency plan. Three days into my month long “vacation” The Girl came down with the flu. She was out of action for a week. Meanwhile, The Boy and daycare was proving to be more difficult than I had imagined. I ended up spending hours with him at the center, trying to get him used to the new routine.
And then, (no doubt helped along by getting puked on by The Girl at 2 am one night) it was my turn. Now this wasn’t a normal flu…this was a full blown Man Cold.
The good news was that we were all fine by the time Christmas rolled around and had a great last week before we headed into our new routine with 2 working parents and kids in daycare.
So, while December didn’t turn out quite like I expected, I am grateful that we have managed to juggle everyones schedules enough so that the kids are in care only 3 days a week, thanks to some great bosses, creative scheduling and a very helpful daycare & preschool. Sure, Mom and I have wonky work weeks, but if it means that the kids get to spend more time with their parents then so be it. For them they have “Mommy days” where Mom is at home and Dad is at work, “Daddy days” where I am at home and she is at work and days at daycare. The downside to the working family schedule is that we only get one day a week (Sundays) where we are all together as a family. But for now, it’ll do.
The reporter, Matthew Ramsey, contacted me last week about the story. One of the things that he told me that was new information to me was the new Stats Can figures that show the number of Canadian fathers taking leaves from work to spend time with their kids has increased from 38 per cent in 2001 to 55 per cent in 2006. As Vancouver Dad points out in his post about it:
But the dads don’t stay home for nearly as long. Two-thirds of fathers returned to work within a month of the arrival of the child. It’s no wonder. While mothers usually took formal maternity leave, the dads tended to use vacation time or unpaid leave rather than paid parental leave.
One thing I am noticing with my circle of friends is the number of parents who are splitting their parental leave benefits. The federal government allows for up to 35 weeks of parental leave for either parent, and I know a few parents who are splitting this time between both parents. Dads may take the final 8-12 weeks and Mom may re-enter the workforce a few months sooner.
A panel appointed by the Conservative Harper government to find ways of improving access to child care is recommending that Employment Insurance benefits for new parents should be increased from the current 50 weeks to 18 months and eventually to 2½ years.
What is really exciting for Dads is that the report recommends that the benefit be extended to both parents. With the current 50 weeks, parents can split the time with one or the other taking it. With the new recommendations, both parents would be eligible for the full time available. Imagine. Both parents at home for 2½ years with their kids.
What a fantastic idea for our society to be able to give parents the financial ability to stay at home longer with their kids during those very important formative years, and still be able to transition back into the workforce.
There is also a recommendation that employers “top up” EI benefits to remove financial pressure on parents to return to work.
The government commissioned this report to find ways to ease the childcare crunch in Canada where demand for infant spaces far exceeds available spaces. Nice to see some acknowledgment from the feds that there is a shortage of high quality care in Canada and that this is probably the biggest issue facing working families in this country.
I urge every Canadian reader of this blog to email their MP and give full support to this report. Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg says he is in no hurry to act on these recommendations, so some public support would go a long way to keeping this report from being shelved.
I’m reading our local newspaper this morning, digging to find reaction to the federal Conservative government’s new budget and the first non-politician quote I come across is from a stay-at-home dad.
Reymond Page, a stay-at-home dad in Winnipeg, says he would have preferred to see the money spent on health care, education and infrastructure improvements, something he sees directly impacting his family.
â€œIs this a short-term thing thatâ€™s supposed to fire up voters because the Conservatives are throwing money at us? Could that money be used to better effect?â€ said Page.
It’s really nice to see a media story where a stay at home dad isn’t the focus of the story, or portrayed like an anomaly, but instead is just another regular, everyday participant in our society.
As for the budget itself…man, this kills me because I loath the Conservatives. Actually, I loath the Alliance/Reform wing of the Conservatives. The old Progressive Conservatives were not so bad, and it seems there is much more Progressive Conservative than Reform Conservative in this budget.
True, there is no income splitting, which would have been even better for families where both parents work outside the home. This budget is going straight at the heartland of Conservative support – the single income family with a stay at home parent. Only in the Conservative mind, you have to think they see that parent as a Mom and not a Dad.
Overall, parents in Canada should be fairly happy – I know, I know, yes you can smell the slightest hint of praise for the Conservatives. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in his budget speech, “a single-earner family with two children and a $37,000 income will see its income tax bill cut by $620 or nearly a quarter.” That should pretty well get us parents back to even with regards to making the Child Tax benefit taxable income.
Most of that is due to a new tax credit of $310 per child under 18. There is also an increase in the basic personal tax credit for low-income spouses so that it equals that of the working parent, and an increase of $100 to $500 per year in federal government contributions to a child’s Registered Education Savings Plan.
There are still a few things missing from this budget for families, first and foremost a dire lack of quality, affordable daycare for many working parents. And in many parts of the country, housing costs are so high that it makes the dream of owning your own home just that – a dream. Address those two major concerns and you’ll make a lot of families in this country extremely happy.
Those of you who have read this blog for the past couple of years know that I have been a part-time stay at home Dad, staying home with The Girl a couple days a week. Well, after close to 2 years, my p/t SAHD days are over. I have started work at my new, full time job. Continue reading →
The findings are based on the results of a recent BBC reality TV show in Britain where all the wives and girlfriends in the village of Harby were sent away on a holiday. While they were frolicking in the sun, their partners were filmed getting to grips with child care, domestic chores and community projects. And surprise surprise – the men didn’t fall on their faces.
The piece is fun, but I do have to take exception with Jemima Lewis when she says
As bachelors, they often live quite contentedly in a sea of discarded underpants, beer cans and mouldy crockery. Nothing terrible happens as a consequence: they still manage to hold down jobs, make friends – even pull off the occasional seduction.
I know it is in fun and jest, but the underlying truth perpetuates the myth that all men are slobs, which is far from the truth. Anecdotally, I have known many women who are slobs and many guys who are fastidiously clean. I’d imagine that, like many things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but yet conventional wisdom holds that men are slobs and incapable of doing more than lying on the couch drinking beer and watching hockey and soccer…oh, wait a sec
In the meantime, good on ya Dads of Harby village, Nottinghamshire for showing a skeptical world once again that Dad can do it.
I’m a 47 year old Father of two great kids: a 10 year old girl I call “The Girl” and a 7 year old boy called “The Boy”. The names are changed to protect the innocent – they can choose to reveal themselves when the time is right – probably in 20 years with their therapist when the contents of this blog will be used against me :)