Paternity leave. This is the time that most Dad’s really look forward to. You have a newborn baby, brand spanking new and it’s time to get stuck in to fatherhood. My question is however, is 2 weeks enough time? How much can you really bond with your baby in 14 days?
My Paternity Leave
I’m currently 4 weeks into my 6 weeks off with my newborn baby. You may be thinking…you’ve had 4 weeks off work and you are writing a post about how unfair paternity leave is. The truth is, I’ve had to use all of my holidays and 3 weeks of unpaid leave to get that. This is no fault of my employers, who I must add were amazing in letting me take so much time off. The cruel reality is that I was entitled to ZERO days of paternity due to the fact that I hadn’t been with my employers long enough before my baby was born. That’s right…if I hadn’t of used up all of my holidays I would have been going back to work days after the most difficult transition of my life.
Two weeks is nothing. Especially considering how busy the first few weeks can be after you’ve had a baby. You are expected to register your baby, attend appointments for vaccinations and be constantly disturbed by health visitors and midwives. That’s without even taking into account all of the family members and friends that are on a constant cycle of visiting. You hardly get a chance to enjoy your time alone as a family. Before you can even blink your baby is a couple of weeks old. Then you are faced with the prospect of going back to work.
Is 2 weeks enough?
Now I’m aware that not all fathers will share this view of mine. A lot of new dad’s will be mortified at the thought of spending more than 2 weeks with a newborn baby and an emotionally unstable wife or girlfriend. For me though, I would give my right arm to be able to spend more time with my new family. My parenting style is getting my hands dirty….literally. Changing nappies, night time feeds, cleaning up sick. That’s partly because I just don’t want to miss out on anything to do with being a Dad. Also, there is no way that I could sit back and watch my girlfriend struggle with having to do everything, it just wouldn’t sit right with me. We created this life together so surely as a father I should share the parenting duties.
What about mother’s who give birth through C-Section? The recovery time for C-Sections is 6 weeks, yet we still send the Dad back to work after 2 weeks. This surely does not make any sense!
It’s time to take note
As a country we seem to be so far behind the rest when it comes to paternity. In Finland, new fathers get 8 weeks of fully paid leave. In Norway, fathers have the flexibility to have up to 10 weeks depending on their partners income. Slovenia…90 days. Sweden…90 days. The list is endless and it begs the question…why are we not allowing fathers a similar right. It’s no surprise that 1 in every 10 mothers goes through Postnatal Depression within the first year of having a baby. That’s not including all of the women who suffer in silence without seeking help. I’m not saying that the lack of paternity leave for fathers is the sole reason for this, but I think a lot of it could be avoided by allowing fathers to support mums more and help out at home for longer.
I am dreading going back to work. Not because I dislike my job, I’ve actually missed the staff and the children that I work with. I’m dreading going back to work. This that means that I have to leave my month old baby and my tired and worn out girlfriend to fend for themselves. After working as a team for the first month or so I will be expected to pass on all responsibility to my girlfriend for over 13 hours a day. I have no doubts that she is capable of doing it. Is it really fair to expect mothers to do so much on their own from such an early stage?
Time For Action
I have started a petition that hopefully will be the start of some change to the length of paternity for fathers. My hope is for dads to be off work for 6 weeks with C-Section births (as this is the recovery time for the mother) and 4 weeks for normal births. This is still not enough time in my opinion but we have to start somewhere.
You can sign my petition at https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/313/846/440/.
Lets tackle this problem head on and make lives easier for everybody. More time for dads to bond with their babies. More time for mums to recover, and more importantly more time for newborn babies to spend quality time growing and developing as a family.
You can also follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with my progress