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What is it like to be a father who took paternal/family leave in 2015?
I’m on parental leave at the moment. Since my wife is both a full-time student and works as well, I am eligible for approximately 11 months leave, and will still be paid 80 percent of my salary.
I’ll answer a few questions you might have:
What company do you work for?
I work for a Norwegian bus company.
What was the overall experience with your coworkers/bosses?
They were all very supportive. In fact, there was a last-minute problem with the paperwork that would have been a big problem for me and my wife. Luckily, one of our supervisors fast-tracked my application through the system, so that I would get my leave at the right time. He didn’t have to do that, so I’m very grateful.
What did you do during your leave?
I look after our son (14 months) most of the time, of course. I take him to “open” nursery schools, where he plays with other kids under my supervision. I keep fit by putting him in his pram to sleep, then jogging while I push him. The house needs to be kept clean and tidy, and I also do that while he sleeps. I go shopping while he’s awake, as he enjoys taking in the sights at the shops.
On occasion, I take him camping. Even in the Norwegian winter, he’s fine so long as he has enough clothing and a good sleeping bag.
My day generally starts at about 5 AM, and I’m responsible for him at least until my wife gets home. Sometimes she has to study or work in the evenings, in which case I’m responsible for him till he sleeps at about 7 PM. After that, I’m free (as long as he sleeps!), but try to get an early night most nights. He often wakes up in the middle of the night, unfortunately.
The days are quite long, but it’s surprising how much you can get done during nap times, times when his mum is playing with him, and when Grandpa pops by!
Although I can no longer do “what I want when I want,” I can still work on my projects. Some of my hobbies — like time lapse film-making — only require my attention for a few seconds at a time, so I can just take my son along! I wrote a novel — The Earls of Norway — in 2014, and am now thinking about writing a compilation of historical stories for my child(ren?), if I can get the time. I also put some of my writing online now and then, of course!
What expectations were there of you during that time, both personally and professionally?
The major expectation of me is that I look after my son to the best of my ability whenever my wife cannot. Also, I must keep the house reasonably tidy and the kitchen stocked, as my wife doesn’t really have the free time to help out with this every day.
My company doesn’t expect anything of me during this time, except that I don’t get in trouble with the law, and report back to work at the correct time! In the weeks before I go back to work, I will check that I’m familiar with the latest routines, so I can “hit the ground running” on my return.
James Yeoman is the author of The Earls of Norway , a novel about life and politics in a post-collapse Scandinavia. Read more from Quora here: