Fathers’ experiences on parental leave

How do others feel about their paternity leave?

Most were very satisfied with their paternity leave
In general, most dads say they were very happy about their time on paternity leave. They emphasise especially things like being alone with the baby and building up a better relationship.
In surveys there are very few fathers who say they would have taken shorter paternity leave if they could choose again. On the contrary, the great majority say that they would have liked to take an even longer period of paternity leave.

I would say it is... or was, I mean... the best time of my life in fact. Well, it was just fantastic to have so much time alone with her and spend so much time with her.

What is everyday life like on paternity leave?

Many describe how everyday life on leave was something of a surprise. On the one hand there is a lot of time to fill, but on the other hand it may be difficult to get very much done. It may require
planning to get out of the house. At the same time, planned and unplanned midday naps or sudden nappy changes can disrupt even the best plans. Still, many dads find they enjoy some breaks during the week when they can go to
activities with the child or meet other dads and parents.

It was cool. And it was tough. I was full of about a lot of things you could do and have fun with the child and stuff like that. So I sat down on the first day and made a list of all the things I wanted to find time for. But I never managed to do more than make that list.

For some dads, going at a really gentle pace and doing nothing is a relief when life is generally hectic. Others feel there is too little happening, and time crawls by. In that case it can be a great help to talk to others in the same situation, or to plan things you and the baby can do together.

Three good books for dads, that you can read or listen to during your leave:

● "Father for life – a book for the man as a father"
by Tobias Prentow and Svend Aage Madsen
● “Fathers – Tales of coming alive as a father”
by Aydin Soei
● “What every father should know” by Thomas Skov.

What you can do on paternity leave

You can keep a good book or film series handy, that you can turn to. You can also listen to the radio or podcasts while you go for a walk with the pram. Or you can spend time calling old friends and family members whom you don’t usually get round to talking to.

If we had nothing planned for a whole week and were just at home, and the family and friends were at work, so they didn't really have time to come and say ‘Hi!’, things could get a bit monotonous, and heavy going. Not as if looking after the baby was difficult, but well, yes, the monotony. Things just went round in circles, and that could actually be tough.

Paternity leave can be tough

Some fathers find it is definitely tough going. They have been surprised how much energy was actually needed to take care of the baby while they were on paternity leave. This is often because
you can be short of sleep, and for some it is demanding when they have to be available for the baby all day.

It’s hard as well, and... Well, there was that time when he cried for two hours in the middle of the night, and then it’s hard to get up and feel like the world’s best dad the next day.

Podcasts for all those walks when the baby is asleep:

● The DAD Side
● Being dads
● Dad, there is something we should talk about
● Bloody Daddy
● I’m a dad

Even though some find it hard, the same fathers still say it was well worth it all the same, and they would do it again. Many also mention all the positive things that paternity leave has meant, even after it is over. There is especially the relationship with the child, but also the understanding of what the mother has been through during her maternity leave.

How does paternity leave fit in with work?

Some find that becoming a father and taking paternity leave gives rise to considerations about their working life. Some feel that taking a long period of paternity leave can get in the way of their careers. Others find it a challenge to be the first or the only man at their workplace who chooses to take paternity leave.

Some say that becoming a father has given them new priorities in connection with work and family life. Suddenly, family life takes a bigger place in their lives. That is often reinforced by taking a long period of paternity leave. Consequently, many fathers also find it hard to go back to work after paternity leave. They miss their child, and they miss the closeness and time together with the child. Some consider finding another job, perhaps something closer to home, so they can spend more time with the child in their daily life.

It has been hard coming back. All that about suddenly having to go back to the treadmill... and now, suddenly, you simply have higher priorities than your job.