I wish I could go back in time and take the same time off with my first daughter. I encourage fathers to take as much parental leave as they can. I want other dads to be able to have that time to bond with their child.
I have been a unit operator in packing and production at the Purina factory in Davenport, Iowa for five years now. When my wife had our first daughter, Emmalyn, a few months after I started, I took one week of vacation and one week of unpaid time off. It was definitely not long enough, and it was rough getting going after that.
When my wife got pregnant with our second daughter, Brooklyn, I began to save up money so I could take FMLA time because I knew two weeks with my first daughter wasn’t enough time. Then I learned about the new Nestlé Parental Support Policy, which included 14 weeks of paid parental leave for primary caregivers.
Taking 14 weeks of leave made a big difference. It made everything a lot easier, especially since it was hard to get my second daughter, Brooklyn, in a daily routine. She hated riding in the car and would scream throughout car rides until she was almost a year old. She would never sleep. It was a relief that I didn’t have to worry about going to work on one hour’s sleep after she’d been up all night. It was also much safer, since I work with heavy equipment and need a high level of focus.
The biggest difference — and the one that makes everything worth it to me — is the relationship that I have with my second daughter compared to my first daughter. I got to spend all that time with her and she bonded with me.
The first time around, Emmalyn just wasn’t used to me. I was working a lot of overtime and felt like we didn’t have time to get to know each other. At night, she didn’t want me as much; she was used to someone else. But with Brooklyn, we got to bond more. I’m one of the people she wants the most. I got to rock her during her naps every day.
My relationship with my first daughter changed as well. At the time, she hadn’t started preschool yet, so she bonded with me more. It was actually really tough for her when I went back to work.
My bosses and co-workers were definitely supportive of me taking the parental leave. When I went back to work, I had a few hand-off days with a coworker to help me get back into the flow of everything, which went really well.
I’ve had coworkers come ask me about the policy and how it works. There have been a lot of people using the parental leave — and it’s definitely for the better. I would advise anyone who’s considering the policy to take the full 14 weeks because you’re never going to get that time back. I encourage fathers to take as much parental leave as they can. I want other dads to be able to have that time to bond with their child.