First off, Congrats!
As trite as it sounds, having a kid is the best thing that ever happened to me. If this is your first little dude or dudette, buckle up! I mean that in a good way, trust me. That being said, you undoubtedly have a ton of questions and no small measure of anxiety about what is in store for you.
By virtue of reading this, you are obviously considering taking some time away from work to be with your family. Good, that’s a start. But can you afford to take time off? Will it damage your career? What about the money? The perception of bosses & coworkers?
Paternity leave has a massive stigma, period – full stop – end of story. Frankly it’s bullshit; but it’s real. Anybody who tells you it doesn’t, hasn’t had the wonderful experience of sharing their plan to take a few weeks off with their boss. The minute you mention that you are considering taking paternity leave you will be met with a load of eye-rolling, questions, and thinly veiled insults. Here are a few I have received:
- It’s nice and all, but what are you going to do all day?
- Oh wow, that’s crazy, you don’t look pregnant.
- 4 Months!! Do you care about your career at all?
After sharing my plan for my 4 month paternity leave at a kid’s birthday party, a friends’ father in-law actually discussed dumping stock in the company I work for. After taking some cheap shots at me and sharing how he was back at work after 2 days when his kids were born, he told his wife that it must be a poorly run company if they are allowing paternity leave. I was not amused.
Somehow this system has gotten away from us. We no longer work to live and provide a quality life for our families… no, we live to work. When money is always the end goal there will be collateral damage and I for one don’t want the suffering of a jacked up value structure to take away from my family. There are many, many, many years left for work, but the experience of becoming a Dad is pretty damn time specific. You can’t make it up during that almighty mirage of retirement.
Just imagine how it would feel to be there 100% for your family during such an important time.
Now imagine full embracing it without any fear of losing your job or even damaging your work reputation.
Imagine using your paternity leave to not only be the family man you want to be – the one you SAY you are going to be – but using it to demonstrate your values.
That’s exactly what we are going to do.
Everyone’s situation is unique and we all have extenuating circumstances. That’s ok. All of the guidelines here are intended to be applied broadly and cover the most challenging aspects of taking paternity leave.
If at any point you have specific questions feel free to shoot me a direct note or drop a comment as you follow along with my 4 month paternity leave.
What Paternity Leave Is Really About
This is about taking a giant step in regaining control of your life and reestablishing your priorities, not following the script of someone else’s life. This is about using the biggest event in your life as a catalyst for creating true purpose. This is about living intentionally.
Of course, if you are looking for a ‘how to’ on what to say to your boss or how to negotiate the best possible leave that’s all here and we are going to walk through each and every step in detail. The goal is to not just minimize any negatives that stem from taking paternity leave, but to actually use paternity leave to advance your career.
It’s cliche, but we only get one shot at this whole life thing.
I know I spent my 20’s sprinting as hard as I could towards what I thought would get me everything I needed. Climbing high enough professionally to afford the things that my family would need, holding important positions at my office, and proving that I can not just stand but thrive through my own efforts.
Turns out what I actually needed was to stop sprinting so damn hard. What was I running to?
The 1950’s American dream?
The top of the office pyramid?
They are all stressed out and miserable.
The delayed gratification of retirement?
Assuming I even make it that far, my life will have already passed me by.
Who set up these freaking goals?
I know I didn’t.
My resolve is to take back and keep control of my life. To set my own goals not just for for what my life is, but also what it will be. For me that all starts with right now with paternity leave.
It is the flag I am planting in the ground, proudly stating ‘this is what I am about’.
This is about actually making my family a priority and being the family man I say I am.
To be clear, there is no shirking of responsibility here. I am not advocating for some reduced effort or resigning to a life of professional mediocrity. No, I am seeking to prove that with the right priority structure and genuine control of your life you are adding rocket fuel to the fire.
I have already taken one 7 week paternity leave back in 2014. It was great and I took the time to make sure it was done correctly. Not only did it not damage my career, but I was actually given a promotion and a 20% raise just 4 months after my return. That being said I learned a ton about what to do and what not to do when setting up paternity leave. That’s why I created this site; to guide you through the whole thing start to finish – step by step.
Are you ready to start living an intentional life? Ready to stop just going through motions? Ready to step up for your family and do this thing right?
Let’s get started!
Do you have access to paternity leave?
“Stop sprinting towards the life you’re supposed to want and start living the one you do”
Me – a note to myself during a moment of clarity