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Tonight we look at when should Dad take time off work.
This is totally up to you guys as a team but here are some of the Pros and Cons we found from experience and talking to others.
This will vary from person to person as everyone has different structures for leave. The biggest tip is to find out what your employer allows you as standard Maternity Leave as a dad. Once you have this, then you can ask what other options are a available;
1] Can you join your maternity leave with your long service or annual holidays?
2] Can you take leave at half pay to double the length of time off?
3] Of you travel, can you reduce this for a three month period so you are closer to home?
Once you have those answers, you only have to look back on the budget you did up, you have done it haven’t you? Snakes and Ladders time…got back to part 5 of this series and read it again. Here is a timely remind as to why I am writing this down for you. I’ve been there, done that, have the T-shirt and postcard so now you can finally see how all these small little tid bits are going to start falling into place.
Ok, so you’ve now done your budget and see what time off you can afford but the question remains as to when. The biggest problem, is of course, is that you don’t know when the Tin Lids are going to arrive. Bless their little cotton socks for being cute but as for being on time, well….don’t even try to guess. Being a multiple pregnancy though, you can have your bags packed and ready from 28 weeks along. It seems the more prepared you are, the more likely they will want to stay in that toasty oven!
Here are the best tips I can give you and why….
1] Let your employer know you may need a FEW days off initially anywhere from the 28th week of the pregnancy, as a guide.
Obviously you’d like to be there when the kids arrive, but don’t get to carried away just yet. See if you can take 2-3 days off now and then formalise the rest of time off you wish to take. These first few days will be a euphoric and adrenaline pumping high. You will be in five states of mind at once as you all hunker down to get things on track to come home. Maybe there will be some NICU time or special care, maybe not.
Have a chat to the wife about this and get on the same page now if you can. While Mum is in hospital, you will only find yourself under foot as she tries to wrap her head around everything she has to do and learn. From waiting for her milk supply to kick in to learning how to latch the kids the right way, just to name a few.
Family will be hovering around, friends may drop in and then there is the hospital staff as well. It’s like a freeway through your living room. Let the ladies do what they have to do and stay at work after the initial two days off. More than likely you will only be in the way, so each evening, go home, have a shower and then go up in the evening for a cuddle of the kids, a smooch and support for your wife / partner. You will have after hours access so make it your time then.
2] The REAL time off….
The time you REALLY need to take off work is from the day you are all discharged. There is nothing worse than finding your quality time off has been eaten up by time the kids spend in NICU or special care. There is nothing more frustrating than loitering around a hospital not being able to do diddly squat for 22 hrs a day.
You will be needed most when you get home and start getting into your routine there. The hospital staff will be gone, the family may linger a while but essentially you guys are now on your own. THIS is the time you need to be there, this is when the wife teaches you what she was shown. The tips, the tricks the time to bond as a family. It will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to hit your stride depending on the kids themselves.
This is the time where you lean from each other on how to do the most enjoyable and simple things, like giving the kids a bath. It also allows you time to get a formulate a plan for the wife to be able to do ALL of this on her own before you go back to work. It is also the time where you can do the most of the little things I mentioned in Part 1 of the series, mainly restocking and the night shift so you can all get some sleep.
This small window of allowed time off will literally fly and before you know it, you’re back at work, or you’re lucky enough, a SAHD (Stay at home Dad). This is the honeymoon of working out what your kids need, when they need it and who can do it.
Be gentle on each other, the changes happening around you both will be both big and small, yet you are fully armed with all the tips I gave you earlier. Remember, that it’s all about the kids now, the ‘I wants’ are gone, it’s now ‘we need’ that has to prevail.
When everything feels like it’s becoming too much, get in touch with your local AMBA club for support, you’ll be glad you did.
You’ve got your wings now, so learn to fly but remember, as the wright brothers discovered, you take off better flying against the wind rather than with it.
In part 8 I’m going to talk about people dropping in all the time and how to stop this disrupting your routine. Until then, give the kids an extra hug or seven, a few special kisses more than you know you should and hopefully you will all dream the stuff of dreams of being awesome, super mums n dads.