Dedicated to my amazing wife; mother of my two children and to all new parents welcoming their new additions.
On the morning of March 25th, my life, my family and my heart grew a little bit bigger as my wife and I welcomed our second child into this world and began a wonderful new chapter in our lives.
It also marked day one of my paternity leave, which would ultimately wind up being one of the most rewarding personal journeys I ever embarked on filled with some excellent life lessons. If you’re fortunate enough to take paternity (or maternity) leave, there are definitely ways to minimize your work distractions so you can maximize your time off. Here’s five ways to maximize your time off:
- Be prepared and expect the unexpected. Whether you’re a new parent or not, your life has changed and the sooner you embrace that fact, the sooner you will be open to the unknown. Even if you’re lucky enough to enlist the support of your better half, clearing your schedule is key to being prepared and creating the space to take on whatever comes your way. Make sure your calendar is clear of all non-essential items so that you can focus on your home front.
- Be in communication with everyone everywhere. This cannot be overstated enough. It starts with turning on your OOO work email to letting everyone you (need to) know that you are caring for your new child (and wife/partner) and it will require your full attention. If your company has granted you paternity leave then hopefully they have also supported you in creating the space you will need and want. Don’t overlook and forget to communicate with your significant other first and foremost, as that’s critical in creating a wonderful bonding experience. Communicate how you’re feeling and what you each need.
- Be mindful and seek balance often. Sure if you can find time to go to the gym, do yoga, run, bike or do some mindful meditation then by all means do it. Whatever you need to do to find an outlet and balance, then give yourself that gift and opportunity. Striking balance amidst the changes that are occurring will help you manage the life change. You should however keep in mind that your normal 2 hour run may now look like a 15min sprint or a 45 min stroll with the stroller but if you need a break no matter what it is, find it and get creative – it will work wonders.
- Be sure to breathe. Sounds simple right? Change on any level can produce anxiety and that can produce shallow breathing amongst other more detrimental outcomes. Breathingcan be your best friend and get you back to center. This is an exciting and magical time and since you want to be there for all of it, remember to breathe.
- Be patient with yourself and others. This one gets lost on many new parents especially when you factor in sleep deprivation but in reality it’s a great lesson for anytime of the day. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your new child isn’t going to be dressing themselves for a while so be patient with both yourself, your significant other and of course your little one.
Whether it’s your first child or you’ve seen this movie before, spending quality (and sometimes quantity) time is key for the parent child bonding experience to take place. Paternity leave specifically is not just good for proud papas, but also for kids. According to one academic study, they found that men who stayed home after birth were more likely to be involved in their child’s activities later on, and that their kids did better on cognitive ability tests. If you’re curious about where you and/or your company stacks up when it comes to this type of leave, take a look at this article.
The floor is yours: What’s your tip to blocking out time for the important stuff?
Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.
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