top of page
  • Writer's pictureLewis Prescott

My Experience on Shared Parental Leave

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

I'm currently on shared parental leave, 2 months in. Currently my daughter is learning to walk and talk which are amazing milestones to be able to watch and experience with her. However it hasn't always been this easy, I haven't always been so comfortable being the primary carer for my daughter. I'm only going to get this time once with my daughter so it doesn't feel like a sacrifice to my work or career at all.


At First, my workplace didn't know what it was. My manager said "I didn't know we did that here". It's really not common knowledge still that you are entitled to share parental leave. Realistically you have to apply for shared parental leave before your child is born. In order for the financials and mother's maternity to be arranged. For me the idea of taking 3 months based on no experience with my future daughter seemed like a great idea, I thought the hard part was the birth and the first few weeks, I was very naive about the rest. When it came to starting my leave I was quite anxious and I found the first month stressful. This was down to a few different factors. But giving up your structured day which gives you a break from the 24/7 care for your child is actually something I was really dependent on.

Why I took 3 months

It only really makes sense to take the last 3 months. Because father's don't get paid the same as mothers, it's basically an unpaid sabbatical for men. Also from the babies perspective, our daughter was quite attached to Mum up until 10 months (a month after I started 👍). In retrospect I properly would just do 2 months due to the separation anxiety of both mum and baby at the 9 month point. 3 months when I worked for a large organisation with set processes and stable projects seemed like a short period of time. Whereas working at a startup with a constantly moving landscape and all of my team being relatively new to the company, it seems like quite a long time actually.

Before everything

Online there is not much to read about dads taking shared leave apart from those who could travel for 9 months or took the time unpaid at the same time as their partner meaning they weren't the primary carer at all. This is a flaw in the way it is currently setup, you aren't given the flexibility of when financially it makes sense. Unless like my friend I met at "happy parent, happy baby" classes who works for an Australian company who give 3 months paid leave to father's. As a couple my wife and I want everything to be as equal as possible, parental leave was no different. The difficult part about sharing parental leave is that Mum will never be ready to go back to work and was really enjoying all the baby activities whereas I was dreading the monotony and not having the challenge of work. Turns out our daughter transitioned better than we did to the change in parenting setup. I've still managed to busy my time with appearing on a podcast, running a 99 minute workshop and exploring career advice. So I have made time to develop my own brand.

My expectations

Before having a baby, I thought that I would be a great parent. I worked 2 summers at a special needs camp while I was a student, really experiencing how to care for others. But nothing sets you up for being a parent, they change and develop so quickly, while you have only just got the handle of the previous development. As well as this you have to pray that you have a good sleeper, because our daughter has never slept well. Another element I was dreading was how I would be tired and frustrated, luckily she turned a corner with sleep right on queue. Everyone says to you "it gets easier" implying you are going through a difficult phase which will pass and they will sleep through the night, go to another person without crying and never be frustrated by things they physically can't do yet. However the reality is there is a lot of swearing, chores that will never get done, stressful nap times and the next day you do it all again. Not to mention the strain on finances when you have a mortgage and only 1 salary coming in. I know we have chosen to live in East London and we are very lucky to have good jobs and some savings to help us through this period but nevertheless. There should be more financial support for families during this period as your child goes through key developmental steps.

My Daughter looking through window at a meerkat
My Daughter at a farm waving at Nigel the meerkat

In the swing of it

I'm now very much in the swing of navigating naps, going to the park rain or shine, planning what we need in advance and chatting with all the mum's at play sessions. I'm really enjoying my "time off" bonding with my daughter, which I would never have got without this opportunity. Seeing my daughter walk her first few steps and learn to swim is such an amazing thing to see. Also she sleeps for over an hour in the morning which allows me to work on my side projects, developing online courses, building a website for a side hustle and writing blog posts. So I am getting the "me time" I was so worried about giving up. Overall I'm so glad to have this time, it just turns out I wasn't well prepared psychologically and there were things I wish I knew before requesting the leave but all in all it turned out well.

I wanted to share my experience to provide a real story of the ups and downs on shared parental leave.

I have a podcast, blog and a free course.

Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page