Each day for the past two months, I have tried to scrape food off of the same spot of floor under my 9-month-old son’s high chair. I’ve tried knives, scissors, chisels, scrapers, and I’m even working on a solution that includes fire. (Don’t do this at home.)
I do dishes. Wash clothes, then fold them. I wake my daughter up for breakfast. Next I wake my son up, change his diaper, and make him breakfast. I get them dressed and out the door. I take my daughter Olivia to daycare and then I have five “free hours” until I pick her up. Oh, and one day a week, I have both of the kids. Their ages are 3 and 9 months.
I could go on, but I don’t care to bore you. What is this post about, you wonder?
A Swedish daddy revolution
Along with 85% of the Swedish fathers who take paid paternity leave, I am a revolutionary daddy. Daddies in Sweden are redefining fatherhood, masculinity, their relationships, and, ultimately, I believe, society as a whole.
Over the course of the next month, I will interview a number of these revolutionary Swedish daddies. How do they feel about their stay-at-home status? Are they happy? What challenges do they face? What advice can they offer? How have their relationships with their children and spouses been affected? What do their colleagues say? And their bosses?
With this project, I hope to demolish some of the stereotypes around fatherhood, masculinity, and child rearing. Maybe it will inspire fathers in other parts of the world. Perhaps they will want to share their stories as well.
I don’t want to romanticize paternity leave on this project. Believe me it’s tough; it can be painfully monotonous and non-stop work. But it’s also the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I have relished the opportunity, for months on end, to build lasting bonds with my kids, and found places in my heart, that I never even knew existed.
After almost one week on paternity leave, Herman likes me better and the bond is growing. Watch episode three, “Herman likes me better” of the video series “On papa leave with Herman”. I talk about what I’ve learned so far on paternity leave and our upcoming trip to the states.
Post production note: Mom, can’t wait to see you too:-)
Today work, tommorow paternity leave. I’m on the edge of the precipice. The next major stage of this interesting life. Five months home with my 7-month-old Herman.
It’s a strange feeling to know you’ll be on pappaledighet, which means free from work, but home as pappa. This is the second time I’ll be taking paternity leave and I’m not confused about the challenges and joys I will face.
First, let’s get one thing out of the way right now. It ain’t being free. Paternity leave is hard work. But it’s different than your normal work. For one thing, you trade in your real boss for a smaller one that is cuter and that you actually love, and would jump in front of a car for. That’s a plus.
Sweden is unparalleled in the world for the benefits it affords to fathers who stay home with their children. I’ll basically get 90 percent of my pay to be home. For our family that means no financial worries to raise your kids. It’s also nice to know that I am reaping the benefits of the high Swedish taxes I pay.
So with no financial worries and no real boss, my thoughts move to how to best take advantage of the time I’ll have with my kids. It’s a future, just one day away, that is completely up in the air.
That’s both exciting and scary.
Now, for all of you fathers who have had the incredible opportunity to be on paternity leave, please share the best and worst thing about it. And then the funniest anecdote.
Here’s one of my favorite memories. Watch the video. It’s called goats and snot.