Call it maternity leave for men, paternity leave, or even family leave. Whatever label you choose, the evidence has become overwhelmingly clear. When dads take paternal leave, family dynamics get strengthened. Although not all jobs offer it, paternity leave has been gaining popularity the past couple of years. If you’re lucky enough to get paternity leave – or better yet, paid paternity leave – then this list is for you. Here are some things that all men should do on their paternity leave.
Sort Through The Paperwork
Any mom knows that the closer you get to your due date, the higher the mound of paperwork stacks up. Dads, here is your chance to shine. While mom will be the one in charge of signing off on almost everything, It can help to have a spouse who can sort out that paperwork while she focuses on getting ready for delivery. If you are like most men and choose to start your paternity leave the day the baby is born, then be prepared for even more paperwork. From vaccine information, to legal documents, to discharge papers, it can be super helpful to have a spouse who can sort out the information. Especially since your spouse will most likely be too exhausted or too medicated to focus.
After coming home from the hospital, my husband was an extreme help during his paternity leave. From filling out surprise forms to rearranging doctors appointments, dads can alleviate a great burden of stress by taking care of the annoying paperwork that will pop up, and continue to pop up during your family leave.
Be Her Nurse
This isn’t a job reserved just for the nurses at the hospital. Get ready to scrub up and take notes. A huge part of your paternity leave will include being her home nurse. Recovery from labor is intense and demanding. An invaluable way to spend your paternity leave is to be by her side attending to the tasks that her nurse took care of at the hospital. This means helping her use the bathroom (a feat easier said than done), and managing any medicines she may need to stay on top of. If she has had a c-section, then she will really need you to be her nurse. Recovery from a c-section can be brutal, demanding, and exhausting. Being there for her as her nurse is a big help during recovery. After all, she has just had major abdominal surgery. From doling out her medicine to helping her sit, stand, and move around the house, the grueling recovery can be softened with your helping hand.
Some women will need this more than others. I know with both my girls, I needed major mental support after delivery and I would not have survived had my husband not taken his paternity leave. Labor is demanding, both physically and mentally. A lot of women (myself included) experience some level of postpartum depression. The most valuable part of my husband’s paternal leave was having him home with me to cope with my baby blues. His mere presence helped to keep the loneliness and fear away. And overall, it was just nice knowing that I had him close by in case I had a meltdown.
Be The Set of Legs She May Not Have Right Now
Literally. However she delivered, she’s going to be sore, and she’ll need your help to move around. This is especially true if your partner is recovering from a c-section, or an episiotomy (ouch). Being the pair of legs, she doesn’t have will almost be a no-brainer. Especially in the early days after delivery. Luckily, having you there on your paternity leave is an easy way to eliminate her pain and worry about constantly having to get up and down.
Play With Younger Children
When my second daughter was born, my first was old enough to understand that there was someone else who needed mommy’s attention. Unfortunately, this led to a short bout of sibling jealousy. Thankfully, my husband’s paternal leave allowed him to focus more attention on our eldest daughter while I took care of the newborn. His time off allowed him the opportunity to have more time with our eldest. With the sudden addition to the family, having you there to play with the other siblings is an effective way of reminding them that they are just as important and loved as the newborn. This is a must for all dads who get paternity leave. If you are getting paid parental leave, then that’s a bonus, because if you think about it, you are literally getting paid to hang out with your kids. How awesome is that?
Be Her Chauffeur
Chances are, she can’t drive after delivery. And if she can, chances are she won’t want to. With both my girls, it was almost an unspoken rule. The first month of their lives, I refused to get in a car unless I sat in the backseat to make sure that they survived their awkward positioning in their uncomfortable car seats. (I know, paranoid much?) Get ready to spend a good chunk of your paternity leave as a chauffeur. I know my husband did. It was just easier that way. The baby cried, and I attended to her while he focused on the road. Along with this, it was just overall easier having him be in charge navigating while we were outside while I got to focus my full attention on the baby.
If you can’t cook, then hopefully you have a stack of take-out menus nearby because after delivery mama’s gonna be hungry. There’s no better way to spend your paternity leave than to cater to that hunger. A lot of things change once you bring home a newborn. And unfortunately, cooking is one of those things that gets neglected the first couple weeks after delivery. You can help create a new normal in the house by cooking any meals that she might have frozen beforehand. If there aren’t any, then you can be a big help in running out to grab takeout.
Spend Time With Your Family
Perhaps the most invaluable way to spend your paternal leave is just by being present. For you and for her, use this family leave as a time to slow down and enjoy all the special moments in this new chapter of your lives. Take time to go on a family trip to the park when she’s ready. Or to stay up late and cuddle with your growing family on the couch or the bed. It’s a great thing to lose the concept of time when your home on family leave. Take advantage of it. Soak up every moment and let go of any duties that might be work-related. Instead, focus on your family and enjoy the fleeting moments and memories that your newborn is sure to bring. Best of luck!