Paternity Leave




Adam went back to work full-time this week. I am so thankful to have had him home for a really good chunk of time with each baby. When Claire was born, he was six weeks away from graduating college, but it was by far his easiest semester and then he had two months off before starting work as a developer at a large software company. When Maggie was born, he had a month's paid leave. Shortly after we found out we were pregnant with Betsy, his company announced they were changing the policy to three months!

He took seven weeks off full-time after Betsy's arrival. Thanks to his time off, hiring a house cleaner to come once a week, my parents living in the same state instead of across the world, and our church friends so generously bringing over meals, the transition from two to three kids went pretty smoothly. Claire and Maggie are nineteen months apart, while Maggie and Betsy are twenty-seven months apart. That extra nine months spacing was really, really nice this time around. But the shorter spacing between the two oldest also worked in our favor because they play very well together.

When Adam was home full-time, sometimes he would take the girls out in the morning while I went back to bed or just enjoyed the quiet. Sometimes we would all go out together to the park or the children's museum. And sometimes I would take all three girls to play group or to a friend's house while he ran errands. Man, I could get a lot done if there were two of me! Certainly our back to back celebrations in March of Claire's birthday, Betsy's baptism, and Easter would have been incredibly more stressful without Adam's help. And, of course, it was really nice for him to be home the whole time when his parents and sister visited.

Right after Easter, Adam went back part-time. His company's paternity leave policy lets you turn a two-week portion of your leave into four weeks of part-time work. That was a completely seamless transition. He worked from 10:00 to 3:00 each day, so he was home to help us get out the door in the morning and back for the making dinner rush. I just had to take the girls to our usual activities, feed them lunch, read stories, put them down for naps/quiet time, and then he was home before their Daniel Tiger episode ended. If only he could work part-time forever!

Alas, it was back full-time on Monday. We had a few rough moments this week - definitely lots of extra whining and fighting. It's like we had two transitions (and the resulting small child behavior) to deal with, first when Betsy arrived and then again when Daddy went back to the office all day. For some reason Adam working part-time didn't faze Claire and Maggie at all. Maybe because he was gone during our most structured chunk of the day?

 We weren't late to any of our activities, I got everything accomplished that I needed to, and I feel like I spent a decent amount of quality time with each of our daughters, so overall I'd say my first week on my own with three children went pretty well. Way better than it would have gone ten weeks ago, that's for sure. But I'm very, very glad we scheduled a dinner date for Friday evening!

My best tips for success when adjusting to a new baby - wear them as much as possible and do all the chores you can in the evening. We start the dishwasher right after dinner and empty it before bed. We make all our lunches the night before. (This also helps Adam to avoid buying his at work!) We make sure the diaper bag is packed. We shower. We sort and fold the laundry, that way I just have to turn over the loads and put the clothes away during the day. Eventually I'll have more margin in the day and we'll move away from some of this, but right now prepping as much as possible at night keeps our home running smoothly.

We made room in our budget for a weekly house cleaning starting in January, when I was thirty-six weeks pregnant. We thought we'd wean ourselves off in May and hire a lawn service for the summer instead. After really thinking it through, we decided to keep doing the yard work ourselves and reduce the house cleaning to every other week. We'll probably keep that up through August. By September, Betsy will be on a regular nap schedule, Claire will be in preschool, and I'm sure I'll be able to get back to my old cleaning routine.

Besides fitting a bit of cleaning back in, my goal for May is to really start exercising again. Actually, who am I kidding with "exercising again?" I've never really managed to exercise much since having children, just walks with the double stroller in our hilly neighborhood. That, coupled with three pregnancies in four years, definitely shows! Betsy is almost three months old and sleeping well at night. It's time. I think need the external accountability of signing up for a class, so I'm planning to try out our local Pure Barre studio.

Adam has used nine weeks of his paternity leave (seven weeks full time and four weeks part-time). He'll use the remaining three weeks lieu of vacation time when we visit my relatives in Canada this summer. Since you can break the leave into two chunks that's what our friends seem to be doing as well - using most right when the baby arrives but saving a few weeks for a vacation several months later. Families with two working parents or parents of multiples might think differently though.

During Betsy's pregnancy, my doctor's medical assistant was also pregnant with her third and due just a week before me. When I went in for my six-week postpartum appointment, she was already back at work. It made sad and guilty that my husband wasn't even back at work yet. I'm proud of Adam's company for establishing such family-friendly policies and incredibly thankful that we get to benefit from them. I really hope the rest of the nation follows the tech industry's lead.


  1. Ahhh I am trying SO hard not to be jealous about this! Jeff has zero paternity leave other than taking vacation days, so we've been restricting our vacations this year and last year. He was allowed to carry over a maximum of 10 days from last year, which we did. We canceled a Mexico trip we had planned for this summer due to the Zika virus, so we have a total of 20 vacation days now to use for Abigail's birth. He'll probably use 10 of them to take off 2 full weeks, then do a few weeks just working Monday/Wednesday/Friday. I do hate that we seem to be stuck in a pattern of avoiding vacations for two years for each baby though. It's not very convenient when you also get in the pattern of having a baby every two years!

    1. Katie, I was an avid reader of your blog! Congrats on your newest little one!

    2. Aww, thank you, Cortneigh! I miss blogging, but I've found myself becoming more and more conservative about Connor's "internet footprint" as he gets older, and his little life is so intertwined with mine right now that it's hard to write anything I'm comfortable sharing with the big wide Internet! I keep saying I'm going to get back to posting recipes and crafty things occasionally though!

    3. I totally understand and hope you do! Or at least keep your wedding things up because I keep sending others to them and I plan on using your info too! Lol

  2. Jealous here too! Chuck will possibly take 2 days off this time around (meaning 4 if you consider that he doesn't work weekends anymore!)... which would be better than with Maria, I guess! But that is awesome that Adam's company is so family-friendly. It must be so nice for the girls, as well as you, to be able to spend so much time with daddy!

  3. I'm very jealous. Your husband gets more paternity leave then I get maternity leave after having actually given birth! It is wonderful, I can only hope more companies get in line! We are expecting our second and I will have 6 weeks covered, then take 6 weeks unpaid and my husband will have no paid leave. He is a part time stay at home parent and will probably just take a few unpaid days so we have a solid week or two with both of us home.

  4. Caitlyn, I have been reading your blog for a while, and I think you are an amazing mother. I was thrilled for you that you were able to experience the birth that you had with Betsy. I just had my third baby a bit after Betsy was born. And, I just started going to Pure Barre! I really like it. It's tough, but hang in there. I leaned about you from a mutual church friend, so maybe I'll see you there sometime. ~Kathy

  5. Wow - 3 months paternity leave!! I thought my husband's company was being generous when they recently started their 2 weeks paternity leave policy (of which he was only able to take a week, since he's very swamped with tasks)!

    I'm pretty intrigued by this housecleaner thing. How much work does it save you in day-to-day cleanup? Or is it more the occasional tasks, like mopping and dusting?


You are awesome.