return-work-after-paternity-leaveWhen a new baby arrives, both mums and dads want to spend quality time together getting to know their new bundle of joy. With all the joy and happiness also comes a period of great change within the family home.

Routines, dynamics and family structure will all be thrown up in the air whilst new parents work out the ins and outs of caring for their newborn. Working parents may be looking at their working lives and considering how this fits into their new lives.

What changes?

As a couple living alone without any children, you can decide what to do whenever you like and this can change when a couple decides to have a child. These changes may seem difficult at first but the joy of having a baby will overcome this and families will adjust accordingly without even realising it!

The parents to be may have careers in which they will have to look when their new baby arrives. Working Mothers may start to look into when they will have to stop working and non-working mothers may look into what rights the father has to be around after the baby is born. After all, long gone are the days when fathers left mothers to have sole care of the children and here are the days where fathers are entitled to paternity leave to be around in those very important early days.

Parents will also need to think about the baby’s bedroom, and space in the family car as well as where there child will be educated once they reach age 4.


How to manage a new baby at home

The best advice could be to plan ahead before the new baby arrives. This could include attended parenting or pre-natal classes and thinking about what preparations are required before the baby is born.

Babies will need certain articles such as:

  • Crib/cot
  • Feeding equipment (includes items for breast and bottle feeding)
  • Clothes
  • Changing equipment (bathing and dressing)
  • Travel items such as car seats/prams/slings
  • Stimulating soft simple toys such as sensory toys for that early developmental stage

Parents will need to consider how and where they would like they would like their baby to sleep. Under current government guidelines this is in the parent’s room for the first 6 months and in their own separate sleeping space as this is thought to reduce SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

It can be useful for both mum and dad to feel involved in their babies care, so discussing parenting strategies before the baby is born can help parents to be on the same page and have a healthy parenting relationship.

Working parents will need to consider childcare options such as a nursery/nanny/child minder for when (and if) both parents will be in work after any maternity pay/leave has ended.

What is paternity leave?

New dads have the right to attend up to two, paid ante-natal appointments with their partner during the pregnancy and this is very important to ensure that the dad feels involved in the development/care of their unborn child.

Dad’s have had paternity leave rights since 2003 under the Employment bill and are now entitled to two consecutive weeks paid leave to be there with their new family. These two weeks must be taking in one go and a working week is classed as how many hours the father usually does in one working week. The dad must have responsibility for the child’s upbringing and have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks and up to the 15th week before the baby is due (same as mums applying for Statutory maternity leave/pay).

Why is paternity leave and getting the right work/life balance important for dads?

Taking paternity leave not only benefits dads but it also greatly benefits new mums. New mums can feel overwhelmed at first and this can be elevated if they feel they have their partner around helping them in the beginning.

Dads are just as important in their children’s lives as mothers are. Some dads can feel left out if they are in work all day and only spend small amounts with their children. So a great way to ensure dads feel involved is by taking their paternity leave for the first two weeks of their baby’s life.

Studies have shown that father’s who take this leave are slightly more likely to change nappies/ feed older babies and get up to them during the night. This could be because fathers who are present with their partner during those early days feel more involved and able to help in the care of their child. Dad’s who take the leave may find that they have a stronger bond with their partner/child as they are around for those first two weeks.

When parents share the care of their baby during the early days, it can benefit the family as a whole. Fathers may feel more involved and this can have a positive impact on the family as a whole. Happy parenting!