7 Huge Lessons I Learned By Not Taking Paternity Leave For My Firstborn

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The following was syndicated from Medium for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].

At the end of November we’re expecting our second child. This time around we’re preparing properly and I’m going to go on a long parental leave from the due date – 10 months. If you know a copywriter who wants to fill in for me, let me know. You’ll only get to work with the most fun and talented people at the Brand Creative Studio of King, makers of Candy Crush Saga. It’s a great place.

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As the job ad went out I started to think about what’s different this time, what lessons I’ve learnt from not taking enough parental leave with our first daughter. I’m not trying to say that I’m great, or even better, because I’m taking longer parental leave for the next one. But, with our first child I didn’t take enough and I made up excuses, excuses I hope to avoid from now on. The list below is filled with recommendations, but really they are reflections on the things I wished I had done back then … one can only learn.

i wish i had taken paternity leave

Go On Parental Leave

Your colleagues will be absolutely fine without you. When I left my previous job for a just a few weeks of parental leave I had a massive guilt for going away. When I got back everything was fine and I had very little to do. Businesses freak out at first, but they are always able to handle it.

Don’t Make Excuses

There’s never a good time to go on parental leave; there’s always a good time to go on parental leave. Work is always evolving, there won’t be a point in time when things are a bit slower, or stable. Don’t wait around, just go.

Don’t Feel Guilty

No need to waste time on that feeling. If you have rights to some parental leave, then use it. It’s there to be used.

Take As Much Time As You Can

You only have one, or a couple of chances, to do this. With our first daughter I took a few weeks here and there, but I’ve never solely been the number one caretaker. With 10 months off I hope to make up for the time I’ve missed.

Don’t Bargain

Adding to the point above, you only have one chance, so why bargain. Last time around I promised to do bits and pieces of work, it was fragmented and my head were somewhere else.

Dads Are Useful The First Months

Don’t think that you won’t be useful. There are loads to do at home, and it’s not only keeping the house functioning, it’s keeping everyone sane and emotionally happy.

Everything Changes

The first weeks are really intimidating, and you freak out a lot of the time and it feels like it’s gonna last forever. It doesn’t. Time passes. Suddenly you sleep more again. You reach 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and then a year. Throughout those months you’ll actually have thought that you reached a place where everyone is happy and where everything is working. Two blinks later and everything is in chaos… again. The only constant is that everything changes, so go on that parental leave before you miss it all.

CJ Malmsten is father of one daughter, expecting a second child in November. He’s currently working as a Copywriter at King (makers of Candy Crush Saga) and chasing his goal of writing every day for an entire year. Visit medium.com/@cjmalmsten for daily posts.

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