Name: Paul Speller
Family Members: Wife Lynne and son Edward, three
How long have you been a stay at home Daddy for?
What was your previous occupation and how did you find the transition from that job to caring full time for an infant?
Journalist. The toughest part of the transition was being made redundant. The easiest part was spending more time with my son. He keeps me occupied and given me a proper sense of perspective. Now he’s begun nursery five afternoons per week, I have time to pursue other things in the afternoon.
Did you plan on being a househusband prior to having your children?
Not really. It came up every now and again as a pipe dream (we all want to win the lottery and quit our job, don’t we?)
How has your life changed since you made the transition?
Less stressful. My son may be as tough a boss as any other I’ve had, but I find it much easier to listen to him and the reward system is better than any employer can offer. It’s great to actually have time to do things together, to not feel the need to rush in order to get everything done, and to not be so exhausted mentally at the end of a day at the office that I don’t have the energy to enjoy some quality time with my boy. It gives you a greater sense of perspective: the satisfaction from watching your child learn something, and that you have had a hand in it, is as good as any exclusive you put on the front page. Most times, better.
How do you fit in with other parents and have you found it easy to build up a network?
There was a parental network anyway, so it’s been straight forward. Some friends had children at about the same time and my wife’s still in touch with many friends from her aqua-natal classes. We’ve just finished the birthday party season from that group! Also, Lynne’s family are very close by and a huge help.
Have you at any point considered going back to work?
I am looking at developing some freelance work to try to fit in and around child care. I blog to keep my writing skills active. (http://norbertsdad.wordpress.com/).
How have you found the facilities for fathers when you are out and about?
It’s not too bad here (the Isle of Man). We’ve learned to spot the cafes that are more accommodating of young children and, when Edward was smaller, we knew the places that were good with prams etc. I think the British Isles has some way to go to be as family-oriented in restaurants etc, when compared with the likes of Spain where it’s expected, but it’s getting much better.
What do you think is the best baby/family product invented?
Baby wipes. You don’t need to be a parent to have your life enhanced by them!
What do you think has been your biggest learning curve so far?
Always listen to what your child is trying to say. Sometimes they are playing up just because they want you to spend some time with them (other times, they are just playing up, of course). It’s a good thing to remember in all walks of life – listen. We all know how frustrating it is not to be heard by others, why should that be any different for children?
What has been the best highlight for you over the last few years?
Over the past few years, too many to mention. To be fair, since I’ve been made redundant there have been plenty of family moments to enjoy too. It’s amazing what the extra time gives you the opportunity to do. To pick just two, there was a time when we’d been wandering around in a park before we sat on some steps, held a couple of twigs, and just pretended to be fishing. Silly, but great. And just last week, Edward was able to tell me that two plus two was four. In fairness, it was two chocolate buttons plus two chocolate buttons, but it still counts.