Two first-time dads rec­om­mend tak­ing pa­ter­nity leave

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Cover Story -

Joe Leogue

Be­ing first-time par­ents, my wife Maria and I de­cided it’d be best to have all hands on deck for those first two weeks when nei­ther of us, to be hon­est, had a clue what we were do­ing. Aoib­heann ar­rived a week over­due in Fe­bru­ary — a handy time to take pa­ter­nity leave as it was a time of year when no-one else in the of­fice had time booked off, so there was flex­i­bil­ity in let­ting me take the time off once she was born. In hind­sight, tak­ing my leave for her first two weeks was the right choice for us. Sleep was er­ratic for all three of us, and I know Maria ap­pre­ci­ated the help — how­ever use­ful I was is up for de­bate — while she re­cov­ered from the child­birth. Now that Aoib­heann is a lit­tle older, and more alert and in­ter­ac­tive, I do some­times won­der would it have been bet­ter to wait to take the leave. But while spend­ing time with her now would be more fun and play­ful than when she was a new­born, I know we made the right choice from a prac­ti­cal point of view.

Robert McNa­mara

I took my pa­ter­nity leave in Fe­bru­ary when my son Páidí was about four months old. He’s my first child and the ben­e­fits of spend­ing two un­in­ter­rupted weeks with him are im­mea­sur­able. It gave both him and me the chance to get to know each other at an im­por­tant stage of his de­vel­op­ment. He was just be­gin­ning to smile, so it was great to be around and see that for my­self, in­stead of get­ting up­dates via text at work and feel­ing ter­ri­ble for not be­ing there. Most im­por­tantly, though, I gained an un­der­stand­ing of how dif­fi­cult it is to be at home and care for a child. It’s in­fin­itely re­ward­ing, of course, but it is very dif­fi­cult and I now ap­pre­ci­ate and have a full un­der­stand­ing of how hard my wife works on a daily ba­sis to give him ev­ery­thing he needs. Nappy-chang­ing, feed­ing, chang­ing clothes, play­ing, get­ting him to sleep — the list of du­ties is end­less. Dur­ing my leave, my wife was with us a lot of the time but my pres­ence gave her the op­por­tu­nity to go out for the day if she wanted, or a chance to go and meet friends with­out hav­ing to pack a thou­sand baby-re­lated things into the car. The two-week win­dow isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s so im­por­tant. All dads should con­sider tak­ing it.

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