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ICE Community blog

Daddy day care - the best career break you'll ever have

31 July 2019

The government recently announced a consultation on reforming parental leave rights. As ICE considers its response to the consultation, Michael Melnyczuk, who sits on the Walking and Cycling Community of Practice, shares his story to encourage other dads to take the plunge. 

Daddy day care - the best career break you'll ever have
Michael Melnyczuk, dad and engineer

Have you ever been to one of those meetings where everyone knows each other and you’re the new face in the room?

Now imagine everyone welcomes your 8-month-old child and, as an ice breaker to the group, you all sit on the floor and sing nursery rhymes. Sounds like it might be quite daunting but, it's amazing how quickly the words come back to you after 25+ years.

Even those who are the most experienced of project managers will struggle with looking after a small child.

As you know, if the client changes the scope every five minutes, then the programme soon goes out of the window and expected outcomes are replaced with new ones.

After the first week, you soon realise that punctuality means getting to a baby group or appointment within 15 minutes of the start time, which is an achievement.

As the days go by, you can establish a bit of a routine by following the critical path from the day before, but the more you teach your little one, the more they can do new things.

It’s a constantly evolving project. By week three, you’ll be thinking ‘how I miss those chats with colleagues while drinking a hot cup of tea’.

Still, the enjoyment of making new friends, visiting new places and exploring the town you thought you knew well on a much smaller scale is very rewarding. You take for granted the wide junctions of side roads you used to walk across the mouth of when you have to find a dropped kerb, or someone has parked too close to the corner and your sight line is blocked. When you use the train, you realise how much extra time is required to get in the lift up, across and down to get from one platform to another.

Keeping in touch

After month two, you wonder what your boss is going to say on your return; have John and Penny been keeping your project on track? The time soon flies past and, if you add in a couple of Keeping In Touch (KIT) days for a monthly project catch-up or inputting into a bid for a new project upon your return to work, you still feel connected to the day-to-day office routine.

Returning to work seems like an easy thing to do, but after having all this fun for the last few months, dropping your child off at nursery for the first time leaves you with a funny feeling in your stomach. Is it the worry and anxiety that your child will be looked after by a stranger for several hours, or is it a more personal emotion that you'll be missing out on playing games and singing songs?

Take the opportunity to share some time with your children at a crucial stage in their development: don’t let mothers have all the fun! Shared Parental Leave: it’ll be the best career break you’ll ever have, so why miss out?

  • Michael Melnyczuk, Project Manager at Hertfordshire County Council in the Design & Capital Delivery Team at Hertfordshire County Council