Things I noticed during paternity leave

A roll of kitchen towel.

My fortnight of paternity leave came to an abrupt end with my return to work yesterday. I’m knackered. No big revelation there then, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve noticed – or at least remembered from last time – over the last couple of weeks. Please bear with me if any of the following is massively incoherent…

The most obvious of these is how different things are to the first time around. Both Kate and I have been a lot more chilled out and, as a result, Xander seems to be a pretty relaxed little lad. He doesn’t cry much. It’s only really when he’s being changed that he demonstrates his lung power. That’s fair enough though. I wouldn’t enjoy being subjected to such treatment either.

Dylan, meanwhile, has mostly taken to his little brother. Mostly. He’s been lovely with him for the majority of the time, but there have been a few mini meltdowns and small acts of attention seeking. It’s to be expected, so there are no real concerns, but one of the things he has done needs to be shared. He’s started to act like a proper little player!

While Kate and I took Xander to be registered at the town hall, my parents took Dylan to get some new shoes. I’m reliably informed that, when the shop assistant knelt down to measure his feet, instead of getting shy and looking away like he used to in such situations, he flung his arms around her and gave her a big hug!

We met them all for Xander’s first trip to a restaurant afterwards. Dylan spent the whole time flirting with the waitress.

A close-up of some cornflakes.

Back to some more stuff I’ve become aware of though, here are my top ten:

  1. Dylan seems absolutely massive now.
  2. The Moro reflex, as demonstrated regularly by Xander, is hilarious.
  3. With the notable exception of the excellent CBeebies, kids’ TV isn’t what it once was.
  4. I had forgotten how good cornflakes taste and to think I used to mercilessly mock those adverts.
  5. I now know The Gruffalo by heart, voices and all. My version of Owl sounds like Terry Jones.
  6. Jam on toast is an underrated breakfast choice.
  7. The post is delivered really late these days; poor show, Royal Mail.
  8. There seems to be a direct correlation between lack of sleep and significantly faster beard growth.
  9. If you have to change a newborn boy’s nappy, a piece of kitchen towel is your best friend in the world.
  10. If you neglect to use kitchen roll for the previous point, don’t worry – you get Matrix-style bullet time reflexes that will help you evade the ‘fountain’, whether you’ve had any sleep or not.


  1. Sarah Miles

    What is it with baby boys peeing all over you? Early territory marking?

    I remember the older siblings seeming huge, but then so did the dog. Too much gas and air….

    Glad it’s all going well!

  2. kateab

    Haha. I definitely remember thinking “Jesus, Monkey is bloody enormous” when I saw him just 36 hours after having Missy Woo.

    I also agree about the baby being more chilled because you are. Missy Woo is very laid back and Monkey definitely has a shorter fuse. They do say that birth position has an effect on a child’s personality and this continues into adulthood. Quite scary to think that where you come in the family affects your whole life like that.

  3. Andy

    Hey Tom,
    The other thing you will notice is that Xander develops faster since he has the input from Dylan as well as you and Kate. With your third of course there is a synergic effect!

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