Monday 14 June 2010


90 minutes a day, normally, 2 hours if we get lucky.

That’s less than I spend driving.

Life and work and being responsible-ish squeeze most of the life out of us before I get to see Mango.

First thing in the morning, I peek into her cot and she is stretching from head to toe with excitement, grinning so wide you can’t tell if her ears are outside or inside her mouth.

For the next 10 or 11 hours she lives out her days, her walks, her snoozes, and her finger chewing - all while I’m elsewhere behind a laptop, speaking pigeon Dutch and all too often counting to ten.

At the end of the day she is just as pleasant as she was when it started, coyer perhaps, but full of smiles and dribbles saved up for me.

With four months having already flown by, should things have to remain on the same schedule it would be a true shame. Thankfully, and luckily, they don’t. Dutch law entitles both parents to 26 weeks parental leave, to be used, within reason, in any form they wish.

Because of this, I get to spend July getting it all back. Aside from the wee bit where I abandon my family, I have the entire month free when ET goes back to work. That leaves 22 of those 26 weeks, which I get to use 1 day at a time, once a week, for the next 2 years or more.

Thanks to some sensible parental leave legislation, from August onwards I’m cutting to 4 days a week.

From then on, Donderdag is ‘Papa dag’.

From then on, I get to do some serious squeezing back.


Ed said...

That is nothing short of awesomeness!! 26 weeks one day at a time. Nice.

Mwa said...

This is making me absurdly happy. Yay for both of you!

Sadia said...

And I thought I loved the Netherlands before!

My husband has an employee (they're US soldiers) who has already had to return to work. The baby she just birthed is 6 weeks old. Fortunately, having supported me through nursing twins, he is supportive on her efforts to pump breastmilk for her newborn.

When our twins were born, he was granted an entire two weeks off, but only because we weren't sure if they'd live. As soon as the doctors declared them out of danger, he had to go back to work, on the other side of the country.

My employer must provide the federally mandated 12 weeks off, but it's unpaid, and if both parents happen to work here, they must split the two weeks.

Also, since modified bed rest at the end of my pregnancy ate up a week's worth of maternity leave, I had to come back to work when my little ones were 11 weeks old (4 weeks after their due date).

All that is to say, I'm jealous, but am grateful that you appreciate the Dutch!

Liz said...

That is fantastic. I dream of a four day week and for a much less deserving reason (sleeping mainly).

Unknown said...

So do you get the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking and ball juggling too?
I doubt it, you have a penis.

But enjoy it anyways!

Kori said...

Well, you already know how enamored I am of your system there, so I will just say congratulations, and ENJOY!

darcie said...

wow. good for you!

Our flawed system barely gives mothers time off - much less fathers.
Enjoy every second!

Jenni said...

that's really awesome. really, really awesome.

Ms. Moon said...

And I can't wait to hear the reports.

Veronica Foale said...


Anonymous said...

It sounds lovely!

Heather said...

From a fellow 4 day worker, enjoy! The extra day really does make all the difference in the world.

Corkmum said...

Wow, that is such a great and sensible system! I have no idea how parents, especially mums who have literally just given birth, go back to work. How the body and mind (not to mention newborn child) can cope with the separation is beyond me....
On another note when are you bringing mango home to the fatherland?

River said...

I'm so happy for you. A whole month with Mango! Then the shorter working week so you two can really get to know each other better as she grows. Sounds wonderful to me.

Kim (frogpondsrock) said...

Nice. Very very nice. :)

Dan said...

That's fantastic.

trust me, once you've gone part time you'll never want to work full time again.

Steve said...

Envious and delighted for you in equal measure.

WhatAboutNovember said...

Wow. 26 weeks! That's awesome. And it'll leave you lots of time to post more pics. :)

areyoukiddingme said...

Fantastic! I have a very liberal employer (one of the states), who lets us stock up our sick time (7.5 hours per month, as much as you'd care to hoard), vacation time (within limits), and holiday time (acquired from already having a 4 day work week). In addition, I was able to work part time for a year (at reduced pay, of course), so in total I was off of work for almost 15 months. Well, I'd go in for 20 hours about every other week. It was heaven.

You will so enjoy your extra daddy time! How else will she get a chance to learn all those disgusting behaviors of which Mom will not approve?

Barbara said...

Excellent news - I'm very pleased for you.

Anonymous said...

That is brilliant, I'm so happy for you!

Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

you're beyond lucky.

A Free Man said...

I spent all last year doing the four day week thing and it was brilliant. Sometimes it was hard to jam 5 days of work into 4, but it was worth it. I keep hoping to find a way to do it again. Enjoy it while you've got it.

tiff(threeringcircus) said...

Thank goodness for some sensible people in high up places. Enjoy your precious days with Mango and give her a squeeze for me.

Jo said...

Good work. It's tough alright.

Jane G said...

Enjoy the time with your gorgeous little girl.

James (SeattleDad) said...

That sounds fantastic. You will never want to go back.

Valery said...

yay for Papa dag!

Martin said...

@Ed - Yep!

@Mwa - that's the hormones

@Sadia - 6 weeks is almost criminal

@womb for improvement - why do you think we had the kid?

@Irritatingly Optimistic - meeeeouw

@Kori - thanks

@darcie - it must be noted, that's parental leave, which is seperate to paternal/maternal leave.

@Jenni - sure is

@Ms. Moon - well, we'll have to see about that

@Veronica - yep!

@livingrightnow - it does to me anyway!

@Heather - i think it really will

@Corkmum - actually, this weekend, a very very flying visit.

@River - yep yep yep!

@Kim (frogpondsrock) - crocodile dundee voice?

@Dan - I already don't want to, but that's a whole other thing.

@Steve - I dare say more envious than delighted ;-P

@WhatAboutNovember - heh, behave.

@areyoukiddingme - exactly!

@Barbara - ta

@alylala - cheers

@Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] - No, I'm just European ;-P

@A Free Man - hey, they pay me for 4 days, they get 4 days.

@tiff(threeringcircus) - will do!

@Jo - yep, but it'll all work out.

@Jane G - Will do

@James (SeattleDad) - already dont

@Valery - :-) and why is there not a 'mama dag'?

Reg said...

I should have moved there to have babies! I got less than half that!

Geri Atric said...

Oh yes, I recognise 'Papa dag'! My grandsons' Papa dag is also on Thursdays.
My day - 'Grandma dag' (I refuse to be called 'Oma') is now on Wednesday (used to be tuesday and wednesday) - but I don't get paid for it... I know I could though. Here in Holland parents can make a claim to the government for a 'grandparent child-care' subsidy. But for just one day a week (?) I'll continue to do it for love!!
Mango is going to treasure her Thursdays. Just watch that wriggling and smiling go up a notch when she realises she has her Papa all to herself for a whole day! Lovely!

Blues said...

What the hell. Why am I not living in the Netherlands, dammit? I thought 4 months in Spain was good. And now I'm wondering how I'm gonna take advantage of a 4 month maternity leave if I'm unemployed when I get pregnant.

IrishNYC said...

What a wonderful deal! Luckily my husband has ample vacation time at his job (8 weeks, I think), plus he works off-hours so somehow earns an extra day of time off every two weeks, so he's often able to stay home for fun days with us.