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Returning to Work After Paternity Leave

Going back to work after only two weeks of paternity leave was a tough adjustment, and has led me to reflect on whether new dads get enough support

10/02/2016

 

Waving goodbye to my wife and baby after my Paternity Leave came to an end was hard. Heading back to work was daunting. I was not ready. Two weeks to adjust to a totally new life didn't seem enough. I felt lost.

Looking after other people's children

When I returned to work, I suddenly found myself emotionally drowning in a pool of unsociable shift patterns consisting of early, late, sleep-ins and weekend shifts. Somewhere within that pool I had to also fit in my new full time job - being a father.

As I work with children in a residential home, I initially found it difficult accepting that I was going to be spending more time looking after other people's children than my own. I often found myself questioning why I was looking after someone else's child; I wanted to be at home with my wife and baby. But I wasn't. I struggled with this concept of putting smiles on the faces of other family's children, and yet I was not able to hold my own.

Being in charge

Our baby was delivered via caesarean; as a result, Mummy was in pain and discomfort for the first couple of weeks - one of which she spent in the hospital. This was where I stepped up to the plate and took over. I was in charge whilst Mummy rested. I coped really well considering I had no idea how to change a nappy prior to birth. And wow, what an eye-opener! I will always remember the first poo!

Just over a week later, I went back to work. Absolutely. Exhausted.

Suddenly my life had changed in the blink of an eye and I had no idea how to mentally adjust. Like any father would, I got on with everything, but something was not quite right. I felt I couldn't speak to my wife as she was still recovering from the C-section. I felt alone.

Adjusting mentally

For subsequent months I struggled mentally to adjust to the new world of balancing my job with fatherhood. Nothing can prepare you for it. Your own resilience and attitude should be enough to carry you. For me it wasn't. Society expects fathers to just get on with it as this is what we do. We are men. Lads. Banter. Strong. Muscly. Tattoos. Kebabs.

During the weeks and months after the birth I can't recall very many people asking how I was coping with fatherhood. Mummy and baby rightly received the attention and advice and sympathy from sleepless nights, along with a genuine interest in their general well-being. I just felt I was automatically expected to be ok based on being a father. I was probably fine in everyone's eyes.

Becoming a nanny

I remained on a mental merry-go-round for months but have since managed to completely adjust my mind-set. So much so, I am now entering the world of nannying.

It is good to see the government finally acknowledging the father's role within a 21st century home by allowing the mother and father to share the parental leave between them.

This post is just a friendly hint to society to occasionally remember to ask the father how he is finding his new job as daddy.

Andy Robinson, Working Dad and Tinies Manny

 
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