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Mama Thoughts: Dads Should Take Parental Leave

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Let me preface this blog post by stating this post applies to parents in heterosexual relationships where there is a mom and dad. Since I am in a heterosexual relationship, I cannot speak to how parents in other types of relationships share their leave time. I am also Canadian. I am speaking from my experience as a Canadian Mama, with my countries rules and regulations regarding parental leave.

In Ontario, there are 17 weeks of paid pregnancy leave that is only available to the individual who is carrying the baby. Then, there are 40 weeks of paid parental leave available to be shared between parents, with no one parent taking more than 35 weeks. The additional 5 weeks was added in March of 2019. I assume that they added the additional 5 weeks in order to encourage Dad’s in particular to take time off to spend with their baby’s. Outside of paid pregnancy/parental leave, any individual who becomes a parent is entitled to up to 18 months of job protected leave in Ontario.

There is no particular way that the 5 weeks need to be used. They just need to be used in the 52 weeks following the birth of the child. This is if the parents are claiming standard parental benefits – which we did. The rules are slightly different for the extended benefit option. They can be used at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the 52 weeks. It can be used simultaneously or separately as the other parent. We chose to take the leave simultaneously.

Our Experience

We waited until Camdyn was 8 weeks old before Connor went on his parental leave. This was in part due to scheduling and part wanting Camdyn to be a little bit older and more alert. Connor took a 6 week leave – 5 of which were paid. His leave fell at the beginning of the holiday closure for his company, so he ended up getting a bonus two weeks off.

Connor taking a leave was great for a number of reasons. We were able to bond as a family, bond as a couple, and it allowed Camdyn and Connor to bond as father and son. It also gave me a little bit of a break. Camdyn went through 2 particularly rough leaps during this time period and it was great to have Connor by my side during some of those (what seemed to be never ending) unconsolable moments.

Since Connor works afternoons, he got to partake in Camdyn’s bath time and bedtime routines which he normally missed. It meant he got to read stories and have the sleepy snuggles.. Yes, he had the weekends to do this. But weekends are short and nowhere near enough time for parental bonding. We also had the opportunity to spend extended time with both of our families.

Dad’s In Charge!

Now, I recognize that it is not always financially feasible for both parents to be off at the same time. But I think if possible, new parents should attempt to save the money that would allow them this experience. I strongly believe that dad taking parental leave is beneficial to their relationship with their child. At the very least, encourage your partner to take those extra five weeks at the end of your leave. Or, consider sharing a greater amount of the parental leave.

As moms, we should encourage our partners to bond with their babies. Talk to your partner and see want their wants/wishes are in terms of taking parental leave. Nothing irks me more than hearing a mother say that it’s “not normal” for a dad to be home with the baby or that the parental leave should only be for the mom. I think we should be working towards normalizing dads taking a parental leave. And I think the introduction of the 5 additional paid weeks in Ontario is a step in the right direction. Luckily, Connor works for a company that supports any type of parent taking parental leave, and his department was nothing but supportive of his time off. Unfortunately, not all companies will be like this, but know your rights!

In my opinion, there is nothing more attractive then seeing a man be a hands-on dad. I am so grateful that Connor is the type of father that he is and that Camdyn gets to have such a positive role model in his life.

What are your thoughts on dads taking parental leave? How can we normalize parental leaves for dad’s in our society? Don’t forget to check us out on Youtube! Until next time, XX.

Check out my other mama thoughts posts below: 

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