It’s been a Summer of very little time watching, of later mornings, of wearing pyjamas a-past 8am, of the luxury of snuggle times in the mornings. Downtime has been a treat that we have fully overindulged in. We took complete advantage of not having to partake in the morning rush.
No dragging ourselves out of bed , no running around the house as despite being as organised as one can be there is always something to rush about on a normal work/school morning. There was no fishwife roars about jackets and shoes ,yes this does happy no matter how many times you say tomorrow will be the morning we all skip out the door smiling as most mornings I bet you have to grit your teeth as you mutter shoes and jackets for the hundredth time. No tripping over the piles of washing that have to be done, no grimacing at the fridge that never seems to stay full( well that’s an all year round complaint truth be told) no mentally figuring out what’s for dinner that night, or remembering to take out the frozen spaghetti Bolognese or switch on the slow cooker, I lie there actually I hate my slow cooker it’s gathering dust in the forgotten appliances press in my kitchen, so it’s either a fresh dinner or batch cooking that I generally try half heartedly meal plan or whizz together as soon as my heels are kicked off when we all get in the door.
It’s been bliss to not feel guilty dropping them off to Montessori every morning as I go spend the majority of their waking day away from them. Working full time carries a lot of guilt which I have written about before so I won’t ponder too long about it but what I will say is that had I not been in the very fortunate position to take parental leave then perhaps there would be serious reviews of my life as a working mother addressed far before now.
Back to the basics of parental leave, which is a right to every paye worker, woman or man, it is unpaid and let’s be honest from speaking at length with others ,not all companies like parental leave and there is a low uptake of it. Let’s also not forget that whilst Ireland is making strives to increase the time allowance and the age of your child it can be taken up to ,we still lag far behind Europe, where it is paid leave. Childcare costs are amongst the highest in Europe (see my article here) Sacrifices have to be made when I am on leave, I seek out a lot of low cost or free ways to spend our Summer days, unfortunately in Ireland August has been a washout the last few years shy of the odd day of sun, but really it’s the fact that we have solid quality time together that we most look forward to.We have time to enjoy each other and without the rush of usual life it’s a time that I will never regret taking. I save and budget throughout the year to ensure that we have a treats kitty but during those few weeks it’s not really about spending money . I have over the years heard all the negative comments of course, that isn’t it great I am “off”, but I always challenge back to those negatives why wouldn’t I want to spend as much time as possible with my children. Yes I also crave “me time” but for the most I want to be with my children who are only young for a very small amount of time. There is only so long where they will happily want to run around a park with me, go for adventures in the forests together, have me push them on a swing, hold their hand on a walk on a beach,play hide and seek and I want to be there for as much as I can for this . There are of course advantages for me too but it is still busy just a different busy and my choice would always be my children. I enjoy the slower pace of life, I enjoy getting out every day, I enjoy sitting in and having a lazy day watching far too much tv and eating far too much treats, I enjoy my children ,five is an amazing age by the way, normal age challenges aside we have had so much fun this Summer and I know looking back in years to come I won’t regret spending this time with my kids.
Too soon they will be grown up but what an amazing bunch of memories we will have. Memories are made every day of the year and parental leave comes in many different forms but for us it affords us the balance between working full time and being at home full time and I am already wistfully looking forward to our next Summer together .