Dan Rawlings is a Data Analyst at 7bridges and has just participated in our extended paternity leave. Here are his thoughts on what it's like to have that time at home as your family grows:
"Oh man, is there some game where I can just lie really still on a comfy bed or something?"
This was something I heard during some iPad breakfast distractions (Don’t judge me too much.) from a blue Australian cartoon dog, but it was something I really felt at one or two points during my paternity leave.
Having the opportunity to take paternity leave is a magical, yet stressful, experience. It can be tiring and exciting at the same time, and it's something that fathers may only get to experience a few times in their lifetime. I believe that this is something that we should be very grateful for in the UK.
Paternity leave at 7bridges
I was fortunate enough to get four weeks of paternity leave from 7bridges, which was split into two two-week chunks. This let me be present for all of the wonderful moments and support my wife and family whenever I was needed. It also gave us the time to learn how to be a larger family and create new routines and coping mechanisms, especially with a toddler and a newborn in the house. #loving-the-challenge
I can't thank everyone at 7bridges enough who contributed to the gifts and flowers that we received during this time. It was a thoughtful gesture and greatly appreciated!
Another thing that the team was able to do to help support me and my family was to pick up all of my projects and tasks and limit communication with me during this family time - even if I did end up on Slack some of the time.
It meant that I could focus on what mattered most without forced distractions, even if it meant that I had to finish each day in the lead-up writing a handover note, not knowing when I was going to be rushing off with my wife in labour. This was a great help, and I'm thankful for the understanding and support that I received from my colleagues.
In a recent CIPD report on paternity leave, "73% of men surveyed believe there's a stigma attached to taking extended paternity leave," however, this is not something that I felt from anyone at 7bridges with whom I interacted. #no-egos-here
Home time after the birth
Despite the challenges and changes that come with having a newborn in the house, we have settled into life as a family of four happily and relatively smoothly. We were very lucky to have a baby girl and mother in very good health, partly due to our wonderful National Health Service. We have been spending a lot of time at soft play, parks, and all of those wonderful playgrounds to help wear out our adventurous and excitable toddler. #making-it-happen
It was also a time for me to give back to my wife by doing some of the carrying in the baby carrier after she had done the heavy lifting for all of those months, while also learning how to use a double buggy and all the intricacies, tools, and processes required for getting around with two children.
This "time off" is full of excitement and bonding opportunities. I feel privileged to be spending this time with my family, developing, learning, and, most importantly, bonding with them. We will look back on this time fondly and be forever grateful.
One thing that I am learning during this time, is to be more in the moment and present to make sure I don’t miss the best moments while trying to tidy the house. And that I need to embrace a messy house at times; it can all be tidied away after you have achieved the biggest mission of them all: getting two children to sleep. (And breathe!)
I am now looking forward to heading off for the second half of my leave with the family to build more memories and get used to being a team of four. I'm grateful for the opportunity to take paternity leave and to have the support of my colleagues during this time.
Source to the report: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/maternity-paternity-rights/extended-paternity-leave