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Paternity leave advice: Real tips, from real dads

Becoming a dad for the very first time is truly life-changing, but there’s no denying it – fatherhood can be daunting, too. And since paternity leave for fathers isn’t yet a right for every dad, you may be wondering what to expect. Here’s some advice for first time dads from fathers who have experienced how incredible (and challenging) fatherhood can be.

Figure out your paternity leave rights

How much paternity leave should I take? Every first time dad will find himself in a slightly different position when it comes to taking paternity leave, so it’s important to find out in advance what you’re entitled to. 

If you have one, talk to your HR department to find out what your company’s policy is: how much time off you’re entitled to, if any, and how much of it will be paid. Once you’re clear on what’s available to you, you can start planning and preparing for paternity leave. 

Father of one, Paul, tells us: “Two weeks was paid by my company, and I took a month off unpaid. I saved to cover a month of no salary. It's hard to do, but well worth it.” 

The average paternity leave policy is different around the world (and the US), but many men don’t have access to paternity leave – and some don’t feel empowered to take it due to societal pressures about being breadwinners, not caregivers. . 

That’s why we’re taking action to make paid paternity leave for fathers a right for every dad.


Plan + prep how to go on paternity leave

Preparing for paternity leave is all about planning ahead. Arrange a pre-paternity leave meeting with your manager or employer to talk about what will need to be covered while you’re away, and how the team will manage it. The transition back to work as a working dad can be just as difficult, so this will make your return a little easier, too. 

New dad Danny says: “My colleagues were more than supportive over the time I took off. They banded together to ensure my store ran just as well as it would if I was there, chipping in to do extra hours where needed.”

Our advice for first time dads? It's amazing – but it’s hard work too

There’s no getting around it – paternity leave for fathers is tough, so you need to go in with the right mindset. With night feeds, new emotions and big responsibilities, caring for a newborn is physically and emotionally challenging. 

Johnny, a dad of two, says: “Learn to be patient, and to put your considerations last. The worst thing is the lack of sleep. For almost all of my three months off, our daughter would spend the hours between 10pm and 4am screaming her head off.”

For new dads, tiredness is inevitable, but it won’t last forever. And there are so many benefits of paternity leave, it’s well worth those sleepless nights. 


Make the most of every minute

What is paternity time off for if it’s not to enjoy and experience every moment? It’s not only time to learn how to be a dad – most men agree that it’s an unforgettable experience, too. 

Here’s another top tip from father of one, Paul: “Always have your phone to hand to take photos. There are so many amazing moments to capture.” 

But Gareth, father to a seven-month-old, perhaps has our favorite piece of paternity leave advice: “Despite all the books, nothing will prepare you for fatherhood. Just try to embrace it and enjoy the crazy experience that it is.”

For even more advice for first time dads, head to our #DadsCare Hub for all the tips and how-to videos you need.

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