So here I am, ready to return to work after two amazing weeks off with my newborn daughter, 12 month old boy and my incredible wife. My second bout of paternity leave in 12 months is coming to an end, and it’s difficult.
For some background, my wife and I welcomed our baby boy in June 2017, and just less than 12 months later (361 days to be exact) we welcomed our baby girl (which makes them “Irish Twins”!) – hectic to say the least!!
First time round my paternity leave diary contained ‘appointments’ such as:
- ‘Fix the garage light’
- ‘Tidy the loft’
- ‘Paint the garden fences’
I can honestly say that none of these things were done during paternity leave. This time round I thought I’d learned my lesson and limited the list to:
- ‘Watch the World Cup’
Again, I can honestly say that during my paternity leave, I watched a grand total of zero world cup matches.
The truth is that Paternity leave can be hard for Dads and I make no excuse for saying that.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing, rewarding time but as soon as the baby is born the countdown clock to returning to work begins. You spend every minute of every day trying to squeeze the last drop of love out that you can, knowing that in just 14 days it’ll all be over and the time you get to bond with your baby (babies in my case) will likely be limited to bath and bed time.
This realisation forces you to fill every moment you can with an activity, a job, an errand, a load of washing – anything that can help ease the load on your partner whilst also maximising the time you have with your new baby.
It becomes very easy to feel guilty for returning to work, with the passing comments of ‘back to work for a rest’ ringing in your ears. The irony is that rather than sitting in your daily traffic jam, you’d love nothing more than to be spending another two weeks embroiled in the never ending battle with nappies, bottles, baths and washing!
Returning to work for most dads is a necessary evil. Although I really do love my job, since starting a family, it’s no longer my absolute priority. The drive to succeed and progress hasn’t left me, I’m still determined to push my career forward at every opportunity. However nowadays it isn’t for my own gratification, it’s for my family. There’s a new level of pressure to perform on your shoulders, one which doesn’t go away.
Having experienced the return to work previously, I know what to expect. Or at least I think I do!
Making it work
The key to making the transition as easy as possible is to re-energise yourself on your way home from work. You might have had a long day, a hard day, a boring day – but your children don’t know that. They don’t even know why you haven’t been at home all day.
The chances are that your time with them will be limited to a short amount of play time, and then it’s time for bath and bed. You’ve got to grab this time with both hands because you can’t get it back. Not only do you get to spend some precious moments with your children, you give your partner a deserved break after a day of undoubted bedlam.
The recent Daddilife post around dad’s at bath time pretty much sums up the reasons why you need to embrace this time and I can’t echo its messages loud enough.
From experience I can promise you that your time with your little ones increases as they get that little bit older.
I now give my 1 year old his morning bottle and manage to have a quick roll around the front room pretending to be a dinosaur before work. It’s something I can’t wait to share with my daughter when she gets to his age too.
After work provides the beaming grin as they see you walk through the door, followed by another opportunity to play before it’s time for a bath and bed, make that YOUR time.
Cherish the moments
Say hello to our beautiful ‘Irish Twins’, Theo and Alice. Born 361 days apart we’ve had our hearts stolen twice within a year….how lucky are we? #babies #babiesofinstagram #irishtwins #babyboy #babygirl #baby #parenting #kids #children #igbaby #igbabies #son #daughter #newborn #toddler #12monthsapart #luckyparents #love #cute #1yearold #boy #girl Photo credit: @newbornphotoart
Right now though, as you’re sat watching the paternity leave clock near its end, you’re probably struggling with coming to terms that you’ll soon be back at your desk, waiting for 5pm to come so that you can get back to your brood.
My advice is to take your eyes off the clock, cherish every moment with your family and make your work your vehicle to provide for them.