Finances and Other Basics Article

Arranging Time Off Work










About 60 percent of new fathers are able to take time off work after their baby's birth, and of those, 75 percent take off 1-4 weeks.

Since most time off is unpaid (unless there is vacation time owed), it can take some serious planning to figure out how to be there for your new family and get the bills paid at the same time.

Consider Your Alternatives
If taking weeks of unpaid leave is not an option, consider the following alternatives:

  • Save up and use your vacation time.
  • Work half days, which can stretch out limited time off.
  • Take off one midweek day each week for 1-2 months, which gives both you time with your new child and mom a break she can plan on over a period of time.
  • Ask other recent dads, particularly fellow employees, for their insights and suggestions.

Even if you can only get one day off, make the most of it, and make nights and weekends at home count by pitching in all you can with diapers, feedings and holding, rocking and walking your crying baby.

Negotiating With Your Employer
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act companies with more than 50 employees must offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Small companies are exempt from this law, and there are some other exceptions.

Leave can be taken anytime in the 12 months after the birth, and it may be spread out rather than taken at one time (e.g., two weeks at first and then one day a week for a while.) State laws apply as well, and many companies offer their own benefits, so ask around.

Some suggestions for getting the best deal from your employer:

  • Try working overtime now in exchange for time off when the baby arrives.
  • Talk to your boss as far in advance as possible about using accrued vacation time.
  • Ask your HR department or manager about other benefits your company might have.
  • Check out your state laws and union benefits.

Consider Your Employer's Needs
A CEO of a small company who attended Boot Camp for New Dads suggested that you put yourself in your boss's shoes and think of mutually beneficial solutions. Come up with ideas that enable you to get your job handled and take care of business at home, and your manager will likely provide you more flexibility.

If You Cannot Get Time Off Work
There are two major reasons new fathers want to be home for a while when their baby arrives:

  • To help mom in caring for the baby, as two pairs of hands are definitely needed.
  • To be part of your new family, right from the beginning, when a new baby, a new mom and a new dad all get to know each other.

Not all new fathers are able to take time off work to be with their partners and babies. Circumstances range from military obligations to the demands of your own business to simply not being able to afford it.

If you are not able to do so, you will need to make sure the above issues are handled. The first is simple; make sure mom has enough help with the baby when you are at work, and pitch in when you are home.

The second is much more complex. A lot is made of dads bonding with their babies. But an even more important issue is the bonds a new family makes, especially when they are first together.

Mom needs to know you are her partner from the start, and more to the point, you need to feel like you are her partner and part of your new family. Be there as much as you can. And when you are home, make the most of it, especially in caring for your baby.

Make something important, like giving your baby a bath, your thing. Take her for walks in a stroller, or better, on your chest in a Snugli or something similar.

Let mom know you wish you could be there more, and how much you appreciate her hard work in caring for your baby. Look for opportunities that will enable you to be home more.

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