How Are We Doing Parental Leave? - ROCKPAPERDRESSES
How Are We Doing Parental Leave?

Rockpaperdresses, Barsel, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand

Today has felt like the first ‘real’ day of leave. We have done real holiday stuff. We had breakfast at a cafe – primarily to leave the house in the capable hands of our cleaner. Pretty wild experience, by the way, to be out and about with a child. I was really sitting there with the thought, ‘do you then just leave your baby out here, with an entire wall and window separating us?!,’ haha! I was constantly looking out at the stroller – I wouldn’t even ever leave Frida outside a store, because people steal dogs. But how about babies?! Haha! You’d think they were a bit more desirable. But, you know. It doesn’t happen, so that’s just what people do. With a baby monitor, of course.

We’ve also been walking around with the stroller in our neighbourhood – at a sloooow pace. Adam just can’t get used to it, the snail pace, even though it definitely wasn’t a lot faster near the end of the pregnancy. We’ve been to the pharmacy for small baby thingies. Picked up Frida from her sitters – even though I honestly must admit that I’m not entirely ready to have her here. But that’s what it’s like being a dog owner. Just little things like that.

We’re taking visits very slowly – our parents and siblings have been here. But apart from that, we’re really just relaxing and getting used to it all. Everything is new, and Adam’s fourteen days are so precious! I just want to spend them with him. Part of his leave was spent in the hospital – that is, these first fourteen days of paternity leave. It’s a bit of a shame, because it’s also a big adjustment to be back at home again, adopting new habits and routines and generally doing everything a bit smarter to make ends meet. We could easily use a few extra days. Luckily, he’s only going back to work mid-week and then it’s soon the weekend.

Rockpaperdresses, Barsel, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand

But how will we be doing it? Parental leave. I promised you a post a long time ago, but we’re only just sorting it out now.

From the very beginning, we’ve been planning for Adam to take as much leave as he possibly could. Because I’m self-employed and ineligible for standard maternity leave, but also because we want it. In the consultant world, and maybe also among men in the corporate world in general, it’s not so normal to take more than those fourteen days, but as father and employee, you’re actually entitled to 32 weeks (or, they’re supposed to be divided between the two parents).

That’s our goal, 32 weeks. And despite the fact that Adam is yet to meet a colleague, who has taken more than 12 weeks, it was not problem whatsoever to ask about the many weeks. That, I think, is so cool and forward-thinking of his employer.

As self-employed in Denmark, there’s no easy fix – it’s been so difficult to figure out the public system. In this case, I’d love an HR department to just fix things for me! The application process for ‘parental leave for self-employed’ says it all; the public site isn’t compatible with MacBooks. I had to complete the form online. Email it to Adam so he could print it at work. Sign manually. Give it back to Adam so he could scan it for me. In order for me to send it to the system. I mean….

All of this is just boring admin, but to sum it all up; I’m slowing down a bit over the next few months. It feels a bit dangerous to write it here, black on white, as I don’t want to scare off any existing or potential clients, who might think I’ll be gone for a year, which is the standard – on the other hand, I am actually planning on taking it easy for a little while. Honestly – I just want to gaze into those blue eyes and stroke his forehead. TV and other pastimes have never seemed less tempting. Everything is about the baby.

I have some wonderful collaborations scheduled for the rest of the year, which have all been well-planned and -coordinated. And from January or February, Adam will be on leave. We’re trying to figure out when it’s best for him to begin in relation to when we should start preparing the baby for daycare. We don’t really want that to happen until a year from now. All of that in order to help me as much as possible.

None of us has done this before, and we agree to take one thing at a time. We have no idea what sort of baby he’ll turn out to be – even if he’s sweet and calm like something out of a fairytale right now. This parental leave is really a mutual task, real team work, and I’m deeply grateful that Adam has the option of taking leave as well. It will all work out so well.

BUT the coolest thing is that I, alongside with my more or less daily blogging over the past few months, together with Super-Ellen, my assistant, have been planning a lot of, hopefully, great guest posts. A bunch of interviews with and stories about women, whom I admire or hold very dear. We have various categories; weddings – in which women share stories and photos from their day. Perfect warm-up for the launch of our wedding book! We have women, whose careers are so cool and inspiring. We have something for those interested in interior design, etc, etc.

Additionally, several of you guys have been sharing your wonderfully strong fertility stories with me – and let this be yet another encouragement.

If you want to share your path to becoming parents after fertility treatment, please email Super-Ellen (assistant@rockpaperdresses.dk).

Maybe insemination was successful already the first time around? With twins? Maybe you have been through the public as well as the private system? Maybe you decided to choose adoption instead? Maybe you made the tough decision of letting go of the dream of becoming parents? Did you do it solo? With a partner? A friend? There are so many paths, and I want to share them with your help. So, if you want to share your story, please write it down and send it. To me, it has almost been therapeutic.

I look forward to sharing all of your wonderful stories, you great, strong women. On business, entrepreneurship, home, babies and weddings. I hope you’ll embrace it.

Rockpaperdresses, Barsel, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand

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