In July of 2017 my wife and I welcomed our first child, our son Cameron. With Cam’s arrival came the challenge of juggling my newly joyful, chaotic, and exhausting home life with the everyday demands of work life. And let me tell you, is was a complex and sometimes stressful affair.
I am fortunate to work for a company with a liberal parental leave plan for both mothers and fathers. Our VP of People, Lisa Nielson, wrote about why it’s important to her to have parental leave at Amplitude, and why it’s important for people to take it. I took advantage of the flexible nature of our policy at Amplitude and was able to take four weeks of leave when he was first born, and another four weeks just after he turned one.
As a dad, and as a manager who took advantage of this benefit, I want to share why taking parental leave was important to me and my family.
Let’s acknowledge that it takes a village.
The joy of having a child is unlike any other feeling in the word. I’ve also been pretty upfront with my family and friends that it can be a stressful time as you adapt to a new way of life and find a new balance as partners. Many countries in Europe have national
policies providing generous parental leave, and these countries seem to acknowledge and support the investment required from new parents. In my opinion, a government or company that does not provide parents any (or gives very little) time off, is implying that this minimal time with a new child is enough. And it’s not.
“In my opinion, a government or company that does not provide parents any (or gives very little) time off, is implying that this minimal time with a new child is enough.”
Every parent has their own unique situation. Some may be single parents. Others may have extended family nearby or be able to afford a caretaker to help them. Parental leave gives parents the chance to deal with their situation the best they can. My wife and I don’t have family nearby, so the time off helped me support my partner as we were getting used to taking care of a new human. Major kudos to single parents, or parents who are not able to take much time off, for surviving the early days without as much support. Taking care of a new baby was so much harder than I expected. My time off gave me an appreciation for how much effort goes into raising a baby and how hard it actually is to be home with the baby every single day, without any breaks.
Related Reading: How Tech Can Help Parental Leave be the New Normal
Parental leave gave me a new outlook.
Without sounding overly hyperbolic, my paternity leave gave me a new outlook on life. During my time off I realized that I want to be more present and focus on living in the moment. It’s important to plan for the future, but I also realized that being in the moment actually allows me to do that best. The best gift I can give my child is to be present and attentive when I am with him. I want to
enjoy all the small moments and remember the pure joy he experiences as he discovers the world. I don’t want to look back years from now and feel like I missed anything.
“The best gift I can give my child is to be present and attentive when I am with him.”
I can apply this same principle to my work. When building and scaling a company, it’s important to enjoy the small moments and celebrate the wins and losses. Like with my son, I want to bring my best self to the office every day, so I can continue to help the business grow and be a coach to my team.
My time away from the office actually benefited the company in some ways as well. I used the time away to rest, enjoy time with my family, and disconnect. This gave me the ability to reset and come back to face some of our business challenges with a fresh set of eyes. I believe that providing parental leave, and encouraging employees to take the time off, is an important way to keep employees happy so they are able to make an ongoing impact.
“I believe that providing parental leave, and encouraging employees to take the time off, is an important way to keep employees happy so they are able to make an ongoing impact.”
Dads, we need to lead by example.
I’ve been fortunate. My last two employers have both provided employees an extended parental leave benefit. At both of these companies, I’ve also seen some parents decide not to leverage their entire leave. I understand that everyone has their reasons, and I would never judge them for that. But I felt strongly that I wanted set an example for other parents, and I also wanted to show that I value our policy at Amplitude.
Amplitude really allowed me to make the most of my leave. Cam was born shortly after I had first joined the company, so I didn’t feel it was the right time to take 12 weeks of leave. I agreed to take four weeks, and I thought that was that. Almost a year later, someone on our leadership team asked if I was going to take the rest of my leave. Thanks to this nudge, I decided to take another four weeks shortly after his first birthday. I am so appreciative of this leader and friend for encouraging me to take the time with my son.
Through this process I’ve learned how important it is to take some time away. My job as a manager is partly to be a coach, and partly to be a team builder. We have worked hard to build a smart and diverse team at Amplitude who can have a big impact on our business. There is no better way to acknowledge what we’ve built then by trusting the team to handle things while you’re out.
Aside from my team, I also want to set an example as a father. I want my son to know that I value my time with him. Parental leave is not a guaranteed benefit at many companies in the US, and many men are still not comfortable taking it. I think that the more common it becomes, the more comfortable fathers will feel taking the time off. All I can do is try to lead by example and tell others why I feel this benefit is so valuable.
“I think that the more common parental leave becomes, the more comfortable fathers will feel taking the time off.”
Thank you, Amplitude
These are just a few of the reasons I appreciate and value Amplitude as a company, and in particular our parental leave policy. If you’re in a position to take advantage of parental leave at your company, please do, I highly recommend it!