To all soon-to-be dads out there, a word of advice: Have you discussed your paternity leave with your wife and your employer yet? If not, then you need to get to it now. Take it from a dad who's been there on how to make the most out of your leave.
My wife’s pregnancy was an intense experience, not just for her, but also for me.
While she was almost entirely focused on the health of the tiny person growing inside her, my concerns were centred more on her well being and to some extent on: what would happen once the baby actually arrived.
That is not to say, that I was not concerned about our baby boy. But to be honest, I think, as a dad it is hard to “bond” with a foetus as we don’t have a direct connect like the mums do.
But believe me, once the baby is actually here, things are a whole lot different.
Are you ready for take-off?
While, my better half and I were busy digesting all the information that we had been reading in books and going over everything we had learnt in childbirth classes, my colleagues brought something up that we had not given much thought to until then: paternity leave.
Paternity leave was something that had not even crossed my mind, but given that the people who brought the topic up were all dads, I was all ears right away.
Each one of them, without exception, recommended that I take the entire paternity leave. Singapore regulations allow to make sure that could I spend as much time as possible as I could with my wife and our baby boy.
But it wasn’t that easy.
The first thing I did, was to read up on paternity regulations in Singapore. And you should too. Singapore’s Prime Minister announced recently to fund up to two weeks of paternity leave. So that means, one week of paid leave is there for sure. Your employer must agree to the second one. And there is even a way to get a third week, if your wife is willing to swap one of hers with you.
Next thing you need to do is check your work contract and your company’s policy on paternity leave. The company I was with, paid up to two weeks of paternity leave. Some companies even grant you longer leaves. So make sure, you know what you are entitled to.
You’re not done yet
The most important step: ask your wife what she wants. There is a very high probability that she would want you to be there at home as long as possible. But don’t take your leave just because you are entitled to or because your wife wants you to.
Dads-to-be, listen to me: do it for yourself. As far as I am concerned, taking paternity leave was a great choice for me personally.
Bonding with your child as a dad definitely starts right after birth and the more time you spend with your family, the easier it will be to understand not only the baby but also what your wife is going through.
Just do it. Just be there. Don’t miss that first moment as a family.
What did I do with my two weeks of leave? Read on to find out.