My employer graciously offers three months of paternity leave for new dads, which I’ve been so very grateful for. My family expanded from two to three kids in November, and the transition, while easier in some ways than with previous kids, is more difficult in others.
I wanted to take a few moments to share some things I’ve observed and learned taking six weeks off from work (with the remaining six taken off part time).
I’ve taken long breaks from information feeds like Twitter, Facebook, and others before. But in this circumstance, dang, I didn’t realize just how much these feeds were stressing me out. And not even just social media, but my Discourse communities, email, and even the news.
It was really healthy for me to take a long break from these things and try to temper my consumption, but it was quite difficult. I’m sure the challenge was amplified by the lack of sleep an infant brings to the house, too!
Speaking of sleep, I forgot just how much you go into survival mode when you’re exhausted. It’s all about feeding, eating, feeding, eating, feeding, eating, and sleeping as much as you can. Or something like that.
As a person who dreams a lot and can be ambitious at times, it’s difficult for me to temper my ambitions in seasons like this. But I also think that ambition is what keeps me from sinking into survival mode too deeply.
I can get overwhelmed. I wouldn’t say easily, but more easily than others at times. While having two young children is enough to keep you on your toes, having a third was more than enough to overwhelm me, and regularly at that. Even without the extra burden of work on my shoulders and having my wife at home, everything usually happens at once and is plenty to put me into an overstressed state.
Partially in response to kicking social media and other feeds to the curb, and partly because I enjoy learning, this time has been filled with reading (or as much as I can). It’s so much easier to pick up a book, or, rather, an eBook on my phone, holding a sleeping baby than it is to watch a television show or something of the sort. I’m coming to the close of my full time off, and I just completed my third book.
Pretty good considering the circumstances!
Despite the busyness and stress of this season, the place I keep getting drawn to is one of stillness. The place to let my emotions go, to truly process my day, and to begin to live in a state of presence.
It’s also in this place where my mind begins to chew on new ideas, or old ones being reborn again, creating new possibilities.
Despite being on the edge of survival in the place of absolute overwhelm, there’s still a place of peace and calm I’m able to retreat to and live anew.
There’s a million things I’ve been processing on during my leave – there’s much philosophical musing when there’s an infant around – but, when it comes down to it, I’m simply grateful to have an employer so generous to give me three whole months off (and to use flexibly at that) to be with my family and new baby. I’ve taken a couple of weeks off for both of my prior kids, but having a long leave like this really changes the game. I hope is other employers will consider benefits like this, too.