So its happening….your all settled into your career and BOOM! You are about to have your first fire baby! Congratulations!
Now, at first, its going to be hard to be away from your child but that’s where paternity leave comes into play. Hopefully your department/state will have a pretty decent policy for this. To help make this leave easier here are some tips for before and during your leave.
Oh and while your here, you’ll need this super adorable firefighter themed newborn pictures, and you also might want to get some fire themed baby swag (or send it to grandma!) start em early as I like to say!
Firefighter Paternity Advice
First tip. Try and save up your vacation and sick time that 9 months prior.
This can be difficult I know.
You might be thinking that’s a long time with no vacations. But if your department doesn’t offer paid leave than it might be a good idea to tough it out. If your department allows shift trades that’s also an option.
Second tip. Let your department and Human Resources know far in advance you’ll be taking off. Most people take 4-8 weeks, but you technically get 12 weeks of unpaid leave through FMLA.
Letting work know early helps with managing overtime for other employees to cover you if needed.
Also the earlier your work knows the more likely they can help you out with time off and flexibility. Sometimes Short term disability will cover parts of paternity leave if it’s medically necessary (like if your baby ends up with extra care). Knowing all these options helps you make a solid plan (and will prevent that nasty side eye from your pregnant wife who really needs you to be the ultimate team player from your finish to babies 18th birthday)
Third tip. Don’t be afraid to take the time off you and your spouse need. Truly in my family 3-4 weeks was optimal for us. Now this depends on how the pregnancy and birth went.
Sometimes longer time off is needed and that’s perfectly okay, like when we had our first and it was a csection. With our third born at home, my wife was running laps around me by that fourth week. (the less medications in her system, the quicker she will ‘bounce’ back. And that’s science my friend)
Just Remember, this is your family and they will be around a lot longer than your career.
Your wife may be struggling with anxiety, or insomnia. She’s gonna need help learning how to juggle your shift work and being a mom. So be flexible that the time off you scheduled could end up longer. OH AND, you can take your FMLA in chunks that first year.
For example, you could do two weeks when babe is born, work for two months, and then 6 weeks off when your wife goes back to work. This way you can ‘chunk’ your schedule when it’s the best time for you!
Fourth tip. When your off you don’t have to do only baby stuff. Try and squeeze some time for yourself and maybe finally complete a couple items on that honey-do list. Its easy to feel cooped up when your off from work so long but try and embrace that time and use it to its fullest potential.
Fifth tip. Snuggle that baby as much as you can. Not even joking. That skin to skin contact is key. Most of the time your child is baby all he or she is gonna want to do is snuggle mom. Take this time to try and create that first bond. Hold those kiddos tight
Final Thoughts on Paternity Leave for Firefighters
Look, paternity leave is just the beginning.
Start looking now at how to be the best firefighter and dad you can be– that’s where the rubber meets the road.
Godspeed my friend. You’re gonna need it.