It's working for Chris McFadden
Silver Spring, MD
"I was able to come up with a flexible schedule in the weeks following the baby, taking half days some days and working from home on others. My workplace was flexible and understanding. After the initial newborn adjustment time, I changed my schedule to follow the rhythm of life with a baby. "
To not be afraid. You don’t need to have all the answers up front. You can read the books, sure, but trust your instincts, trust your spouse to be your partner. Together you can figure things out as you go along.
It was always the plan for me to be the primary breadwinner. My wife and I had discussed and decided early on that she would take care of the children while they were young. It was a natural choice for us for me to go back to work after taking a little time off for each of the babies’ births.
After taking a week of leave after the birth of our first child I was able to come up with a flexible schedule in the weeks following the baby. taking half days some days and working from home on others. My workplace was flexible and understanding. After the initial newborn adjustment time, I changed my schedule to follow the rhythm of life with a baby. I started to get in to work earlier and I would make sure I got home a little earlier to spend time with the baby in the evening, taking him for a walk or to the park.
For all three of my children’s births I received three weeks paternity leave. I took one week off after the first baby, and less time off for each subsequent baby. Instead, I banked the remainder of my paternity leave to use later on in the year following the babies’ arrivals. We found that this worked best for our family. My wife, the primary caretaker of the babies and someone who had easy births and an easy time nursing, communicated that the first two months after the birth were not the toughest for her. She found those months following the newborn stage were actually harder for her, so we adjusted my leave schedule to accommodate that, using that leave for more half days, four day weekends and family vacations that first year.
Having my wife as the stay at home parent worked for us all.
It took about a year. The first year is tough. Babies are up all the time, there are sleepless nights, teething, constant diapers. Everything is changing all the time and therefore you can’t get used to it. After the first birthday we found our new normal.
Looking back, I found it most challenging to balance demanding work with providing support at home that first year.
I worked with a lot of parents with young children and in a pro-family work culture, but my wife was the biggest support.
As a working parent, I never expected leaving work behind at work would be so hard, and having that third baby would be so much easier!