In August 2010, when David Cameron became the first UK prime minister to take paternity leave as head of a new and largely untested coalition, switching off from work would not have been easy – unless you compare his situation to that now faced by Boris Johnson.
Next weekend, the prime minister is due to set off for an undisclosed location in Scotland for a reported two-week August break with his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, and their baby, Wilfred, who is approaching four months old.
The trip is delayed paternity leave, which – as well as being perfectly legitimate – will help to insulate Johnson from the traditional media sniping about politicians taking time off during crises.
Of course, prime ministers are never really off duty beyond hugely rare circumstances such as Johnson’s own stay in intensive care with coronavirus, and he will receive a steady stream of prime ministerial red boxes.
In taking a Scottish break, Johnson both avoids the risk of being caught up in a sudden change of quarantine plans and shows his desire to keep the UK intact, in keeping with his self-appointed under-billing title of minister for the union.
But at the same time, being in Scotland will grant him proximity to one of the key challenges he will face on his return: how to fully reopen schools without either bringing a new wave of Covid-19 cases or shutting down large parts of the economy and society to compensate.
Scottish schools start returning from Tuesday, and while public health is devolved and thus a matter for Nicola Sturgeon, the prime minister will be keenly watching to see what impact the return of students has.
He heads north amid calls for more government efforts to help schools contain the virus beyond the officially-mandated regime of more handwashing and splitting pupils into bubbles, for example routine testing and a better test-and-trace system.
It will be test and trace that is perhaps key to how well the government and its scientific and medical teams can cap any surge in Covid, and prevent the much-mooted nightmare winter scenario of a new coronavirus peak adding to flu and perhaps other factors such as flooding.
It will also be on minds in No 10 that the longer coronavirus seems to be a semi-permanent state of affairs, the harder it will be to argue against an immediate inquiry into the government’s handling of it.
But it is a testament to the political bandwidth understandably taken up by coronavirus that Johnson’s secondary task will be to puzzle a way to a permanent trade with the EU in the coming weeks without alienating his pro-Brexit MPs and the leave-supporting voters who helped propel him into No 10.
Successive waves of talks in Brussels and London involving Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, have seemingly not come close to a breakthrough, amid predictions in Brussels that No 10 will need to take a more central role.
If this does not happen, Johnson will have to factor in how much a no-deal departure from the transition period could add to the woes of already-struggling companies, and a country facing a once-in-a-generation unemployment crisis.
When he headed off for time with baby Florence, Cameron was still six years away from his darkest political moment: the Brexit vote that cast him from office. Johnson does not know what will happen in coming weeks, but the number of potential crises at this crucial moment means that he and his aides must have entertained the possibility that his leave could be short-lived.