Should I take a sabbatical

January 15, 2014 · 79 comments

sabbatical

In college, I remember being jealous of the professors who had earned a sabbatical. They would take a whole semester off, with pay, to basically do whatever they wanted. It seemed like the sweetest gig in the world. Every ten years they worked, they could take a three-month sabbatical.

About a year ago, I asked my boss if sabbaticals were a “thing” in our field. He told me Heck No and laughed in my face. I was bummed to say the least.

But guess what guys! I had another meeting with my boss yesterday, and thanks to future baby Ninja, I can finally take a sabbatical. Okay, not a sabbatical, more like unpaid time off because of FMLA benefits. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. 

My boss explained things like this…

I can take off as much (or as little) time off as I want, up to 12 weeks, immediately after our baby is born. Do you realize what this means! I could take ALL SUMMER OFF!!!! How incredible would that be!? I’m sitting here thinking of all of the different ways I can take advantage of these FMLA benefits. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Option A:

Take the whole summer off WITH pay. I think I have about 550 hours of sick leave banked currently (14 weeks). So if I wanted, I could take virtually the whole summer off, with pay, by exhausting my sick leave. Awesome to take three months off with pay. Not awesome being “sick leave poor”. What if baby has a serious medical complication down the road, or I break my leg six months from now? I’d be screwed if I needed to take more than three weeks off.

Option B:

Take the whole summer off, WITHOUT pay. I am not required to use any sick leave under the FMLA laws. So essentially, I can take up to 12 weeks off, without pay, and keep all 14 weeks of sick leave in tact. Super sweet to maintain a healthy sick leave balance. Not so sweet to forfeit $18,500 in gross pay over those three months.

Option C, D, E, F…

Combine sick leave and unpaid leave. Here’s where things get interesting. As long as I give my boss advance notice, meaning a written plan before baby comes, I can combine my paid time off with unpaid time off anyway I’d like. So for those first 12 weeks I could do something like….

  • Take two weeks off with pay, take two weeks off without pay, work two weeks, and repeat the cycle.
  • Or how about, take every Monday off as paid leave, every Friday off as unpaid, and work every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
  • Or Take a month off paid, take a month off unpaid, work a month.
  • Or… well you get the point.

Between June 18th and September 18th I can work as much, or as little, as I want. And I can take off as much time as I want, paid or unpaid. It’s a FANTASTIC situation to be in.

Only problem is, I’m not quite sure what to do!!!

I’m seriously dreaming about taking the family to San Diego for three months and eating 10 years worth of California Burritos. Or maybe volunteering to work at a Young Life camp all summer. Or maybe knock out some major projects around the house. Or have four-day weekends, every weekend, for three months.

Put yourself in our shoes. You have a decent chunk of change in the bank, 16 weeks of sick leave banked (about what I’ll have when the baby comes), and the ability to take 12 weeks off.

What would you do?! 

 

{ 79 comments }

1 Jessica

My husband is in the military so he is given 10 PAID days off for the birth of a child. (We have had two babies in less than 17 months and he has gotten 10 days for each child). So he automatically get those 10 days, and then he can use whatever VACATION days he wants on top of that. So basically he had the possibility of taking around 60 days off when our youngest son was born 6 weeks ago. He did not take that whole time off. He took his 10 days of ‘free’ days, then with added another 20 days off with VACATION days so he got a month off. It was nice having him home for that long! Also with the holidays it worked out he even got more time off, which was a huge plus!
If we were in your shoes, I would definitely want you take off to be at home when Baby Ninja arrives! Girl Ninja is going to want help, even if other family comes (we had my mom here but I was still so thankful for my husband here as well, plus you are never going to get those newborn days back, soak them up!!!) Girl Ninja is still going to want you there! Whether she wants you to change all the diapers, or cook dinner or just be up with her at night during feedings (because having someone to talk to to help you stay awake during those feedings is very important!). So I would say definitely plan on being off, also do you really NEED 11 weeks of sick leave? You could definitely use come of that time as paid time off, and then take a week or two as unpaid if you want to keep 8 weeks of sick leave or something like that. (ALso don’t know how it is with your job, but with my husband in the military if your wife/child is sick in the hospital you automatically get that time off as paid, so if something did happen to myself or one of our sons, my husband wouldn’t have to use his vacation days to be home/in the hospital with us, maybe ask your employer about that).

2 TPol

If I were you, I would take a part of the summer with pay. Why 12 weeks? How about 6-8 weeks? This way you can still have some time banked.

If your mom and/or Girl Ninja’s mom will be around for the first few weeks after birth, (that is an assumption on my part because this is what happens in my culture) I would take the first week off and then go back to work until the moms return to their homes and then take about 6 weeks off with pay.

If moms will not be present or if they will stay with you only for a very short time, I would take about 6-8 weeks with pay so that I could minimize my risk.

3 Fiona

My husband took 3 weeks off (2 weeks paid paternity + 1 week unpaid). It was great and allowed him to bond with his daughter and me to recover.

We had no local support, but we also had a very content new born. Sometimes mothers, despite their best intentions can be a little too interfering :)

Could you return to work on shortened hours? That way you can give your wife an opportunity to sleep in while you take baby Ninja and Puppy Ninja for a walk, then come home early and help with the “witching” hour. In the early days my husband always gave our daughter a bath, which again was great bonding time.

4 TPol

I read my previous comment and it sounds as if I thought wanting 12 weeks off was spoilt. I do not think so but knowing that you do not like the idea of losing one income, I made that comment. I do not like to sound insensitive. You may opt for a combination of paid and unpaid leave to stretch the time off to 12 weeks. This way you will not feel stressed about using up all your banked days or losing significant income.

5 Brit

I say take the the summer off and spend it with your family. Take advantage of the time that is given and get to know baby ninja. I will recommend not taking all your 12 weeks though. Keep at least 2 weeks just in case.

6 S L

If you are willing to take 12 weeks unpaid now, would you be willing to later? If you had a broken leg in six months (by which time you might have a few days back, depending on business model) would you then be able to afford the six weeks recuperation time, which might be covered under short term disability — get familiar with that also, jic. The FMLA only occurs now. I would check with the boss on the policy of half days. Look at four weeks full FMLA, perhaps another four weeks with some half-days with FMLA (or vaca hours) and then start bringing in full days but an extra day or two off a week to make sure doc appointments are handled at the three month mark.

It’s an exciting, TIRING time. Get all extra help you can, you NEED at least four weeks to learn your new schedule and how work with be able to work around it.

7 Eric

I took 2 weeks off after the birth of our daughter and then worked part time for 2 weeks following that. To be honest, as a father, with plenty of family around, there wasn’t much of a need for me to be around the house. Our daughter was extremely attached to her mother at the beginning and there wasn’t much bonding with me (especially because she was nursed, no bottles/formula). If I could do it over again, I would probably take 1-2 weeks off at birth to help out and then take 1-2 months off at around the age of 6 months (which is allowed in Washington under the state’s parental leave policy – can take time at choosing within 12 months). This 6-month period is where you can really interact and bond with your child significantly more than at birth.

8 Craig

Easy: Decide how much sick leave you want in your back pocket so you’re not sick leave poor, and use the rest. Then take unpaid leave for the remaining time you want to be on your break.

9 Larry

The academic who takes a sabbatical is almost certainly not using the time to do “whatever they want.” He or she is using the uninterrupted time to do the scholarly research necessary for tenure or promotion.

10 C The Writer

Understanding other people’s jobs and what they entail has never really been Ninja’s forte (see his post about how much realtors get paid).

11 Brian@ Debt Discipline

You may want to take a portion of time when baby ninja is born 2-4 weeks and then save time for later. So my variables when having your first baby, recovery for mom, babies schedule, sleep, etc.

12 Alice

I think that in cases like this, it’s best to listen more to what your wife wants than a bunch of strangers, lol. However, whatever time you decide to take off, keep some sick time as a back up for future occurrences. You’re going to want at least a few weeks with Girl Ninja and Baby Ninja. Enjoy that time.

13 Jess

I’d say you want to take at least 6 weeks off. The 1st 3-4 weeks are so rough with lack of sleep and recovering from childbirth. My husband took off 6 weeks with both of our kids and it was wonderful.

Planning with babies is hard to do, you never know what will happen. If you can, try to not travel the last 2 months of ninja-mama-to-be’s pregnancy… my 1st came unexpectedly 6 weeks early. And make sure she has all your phone numbers and phone numbers of several co-workers… my hubby was in a presentation and almost missed the little one being born!

14 Money Beagle

I would probably take 6-8 weeks, half paid, half unpaid. Having read your blog for years now, I think anything longer than that and you’ll start to feel unproductive, even with a new baby that will occupy your time. By that point, you’ll probably want to settle into more of what the long term routine will be for your family.

15 mollyjade

We’re going through this exact same discussion at our house. Though my company requires you to use up all your paid leave first.

My husband is in a really competitive field. He gets paid (80%) paternity leave AND a paid one month sabbatical after working there for 7 years. We’re trying to figure out how to combine both our options when it’s baby time.

Our kid is going into daycare eventually, so we’re trying to figure out daycare waiting lists and things like that.

16 Mysti

Um, FMLA is designed for you to be involved in the care of yourself or immediate family member. I am disheartened that you view it as “free time.”

How about using it to spend time with your family? You don’t know how this baby is truly going to impact your lives….no one does until they are in it. Maybe you have an easy going baby and it is pie. Maybe you have a colicky baby who cries 22 hrs a day.

The idea that you would leave your wife and newborn to go off really upsets me. And that is not the time for them to be traveling either….

As for leave….Take 4-6 weeks off, paid. And then you need to settle back into real life. Don’t exhaust your FMLA or your sick leave. You really don’t know what is ahead.

17 Ninja

Ummm when did I say I was going to leave girl ninja and my baby? You should know me better than that. The implication was that they would come with. I would take the whole summer off with the specific intent of hanging with them full time

Maybe via a long vacation to her parents vacation home in California. Or maybe we both go to Young Life camp for a month where I would work and she would hang out.

18 Alice

Since you asked our opinion, I’m going to give mine on this. I think that if you take the time off work, you need to be at home with GN and BN and not working at the Young Life camp. While that is admirable work, you need to spend those first few weeks of BN’s life getting to know him/her and getting on a schedule. That won’t be possible if you’re not even home.

19 Ninja

Sorry I could have made that more clear. If I go to work at a young life camp girl ninja and baby would come with. We would live there for one month. I work and girl ninja plays, they even have childcare at the camps for families.

20 Alice

Girl Ninja is going to be taking care of a newborn, which I don’t think anyone would describe as ‘playing’. I didn’t assume you would leave her at home. When I said that you should be home with her, I meant that you should *both* be home with new baby getting to know baby and getting baby on a schedule.

I am totally not trying to be ugly here, but this is your child, not your puppy. The first few weeks of this life need to be taken in, enjoyed, savored and cherished. You can volunteer later.

21 MelissaZ

It might not be a good idea to plan to go anywhere the first month or so after baby ninja is born. You never know how easy/difficult labor will be, or if there will be any complications or health issues. And even if everything goes smoothly, it’s still an intense process to give birth & your wife might not wish to be out and about (and not to be indelicate, bladder issues are common for a short time after delivery).

I lived with my parents for a short time right after my daughter was born, and frankly, much as I absolutely love and appreciate them, really would have preferred to be in my own home. When you’re at someone else’s house, you feel as if you should be a polite guest, and young babies do not know the meaning of polite. Even when everyone is gracious, it can be a little uncomfortable.

22 Mysti

With a newborn??? Are you kidding me???

A baby changes your life in ways you haven’t even begun to think about. While it may sound nice to be at the vacation house, GN is going to want her own bed…her own stuff. The key to newborns is getting them and you on a schedule and establishing a routine…not vacationing.

I am so sad for you. I am not sure you really realize how much your life is going to change.

23 Ninja

I’m sad that you’re sad for me. Virtually all of our friends have kids. We have walked with them through the good, the bad, and the ugly. I know this parenting thing is going to be a lot of work, and a lot of fun. That said, I don’t at all agree with the way you make it seem like becoming parents is a burden. If we want to take our baby to California we will, if we decide not to, we wont. That simple. If that makes you sad for me then there isn’t much I can do about that.

24 Midwest

You’re in a good position, a truly first world problem. Having a 17 day old in our house, all I can say is try to get ready. Seeing others go through it and mentally preparing is one thing, but it’s a whole different beast. But a good one.

You guys will do great. I took two weeks off and feel like 3-4 would have been more ideal. In my profession being gone too long will only make coming back harder. Things move too fast, but ymmv.

Best of luck man, enjoy the ride.

25 Mysti

Watching others and having your own are two different things. NO ONE really gets it until they are in it. We ALL thought we knew what to expect. And some of those expectations come true…and some don’t even come close.

I certainly do not think that parenting is a burden. I spent lots and lots of money in order to become a parent. Having kids is great…but they are a job in themselves. Your priority should be parenting…not working at the camp, even though it is a wonderful organization and doing alot of good things.

Your flip tone of the post thought appears that you are more interested in taking time off of work than taking time to become a new Daddy.

You have every right to take your child where ever you want, when ever you want. He or she is your kid…your rules. But as many people are telling you…those first few months are a big adjustment. Your primary focus should be becoming a family, and learning what that is going to mean for all of you.

The reason I am sad for you might miss out on the experience without realizing it. You are mentally planning all sorts of other things to happen at the same time as becoming Daddy. And you might look back and wish you had taken the time to just be in the moment. You don’t get those moment back.

You are fortunate to be in a financial place to really enjoy this time of your life, but you seem a little mentally checked out of it. Of course, you only write a small snip of what actually happens….I get that. But really stop and think about what you want from this time….and then make it happen.

26 C The Writer

Oh man, are you ever in for a rude awakening.

Out of curiosity, when you “walked through” your friends having kids, did you happen to watch their babies through the night? Change a diaper? Feed the kid? Have you actually spent significant time with a baby?

you have NO idea what you’re getting into, and it’s not a good idea to take an infant off on your jaunts. You’re going to be a parent. Grow the hell up. It’s not about you and what you want to do anymore. That stuff all goes out the window when you have kids.

I honestly think you have NO CLUE what having a kid means. I do, and that’s why I don’t want any. I fully understand and respect what a sacrifice it is, and I decided long ago that it wasn’t one I was willing to make. I’m coming from the “no kids” side of things, as you’ve heard from parents.

What they and I agree on is that you seem pretty clueless.

27 Ninja

I’m a pretty happy person. I’ll be tired. I’ll likely be frustrated. But I’ll also embrace every moment and love the crap out of my kid. To suggest otherwise is silly.

You’ve been reading my blog for years now, you should know that I am a fairly responsible person.

Heck, this puppy’s is great training. I’m up two or three or times a night taking her potty and can’t tell you how many accidents I’ve cleaned up. Is it as much work as a kid, no, but there are definitely similarities.

Keep reading once baby ninja comes along. I’m excited for the journey and hopefully you’ll enjoy my posts about parenthood.

28 C The Writer

Interesting how you avoided my question. Have you ever had to look after a baby for longer than a few hours? Or even that? Have you ever had to change diapers or feed a baby?

Taking care of a dog is not like taking care of your baby. Holy shit. You really are going to be surprised, and not in a good way.

What I’ve learned reading your blog is that you don’t take criticism well, you always want to be right, and you spout off about things you have no clue about.

You’re not excited at all. I’ve always told you that you’re ambivalent at best about having children which is why you should have been actively taking precautions until you were truly ready to have kids. You weren’t. Oh well. For your kid’s sake I hope you grow up fast.

29 Ninja

All I can say is I’m excited and ready to be a dad. If you don’t believe me there isn’t much i can do about that.

30 Melanie

Holy crap lay off.

I have two kids and I had NO CLUE what I was in for. No one did! So yes maybe ideas that Ninja is tossing around right now won’t be viable when the baby is born, but until the baby is born and he experiences that, it’s blind optimism. You sir seem like a straight up pessimist about everything so I get why you wouldn’t be able to see that point of view.

Don’t you dare insult someone on whether or not they’re fit to be a parent. You’ve made your choice and should respect others too.

31 tom

When my kid was born, I took 4 weeks. It was plenty of time. I’ll do the same with the next kid as well.

4 weeks allows you to spend a lot of time with your baby and wife and help her get into a nice routine. After 4 weeks you’ll be itching to get back to work.

And, to be completely blunt… newborns are kind of boring. They are really interesting at first, but after a week, you realize all they do is eat, sleep and poop. I will caveat that by saying naps with a baby on your chest are the best.

32 Drockafeller

I was going to comment but the after looking at a few I realized the people with children probably know what they are talking about more than I, a DINK. That said, I say take 8 weeks paid. This will allow you to be at home yet not feel guilty. Judging by your time off balance you are like me and never use it anyway.

33 C The Writer

I don’t have kids either, but I had to take care of my four month old cousin when I was 11. I had to take care of him for two summers after that, when I was 12-13. I had to give up a lot of the fun of being a kid, and I resented my aunt for being a drunk and forcing me to take care of her responsibilities (as well as my grandmother). She basically relied on us for free babysitting. I was a kid myself and I shouldn’t have had to do that. I had trouble sleeping with a crying baby, and I had to change diapers, something I never want to do again.

34 og

I definitely think it depends on your wife, and on the baby! Newborns can be “boring” at first but I remember not sleeping much for the first six months. If both of us had been at home, I’m sure we would have taken shifts so one could nap during the day and the other got some sleep at night (which is kind of what we did while I was on maternity leave). I have heard of babies who sleep well early on, so you may get lucky.

35 StackingCash

From what I can tell of your finances, you can afford to take the time off. So do it!!!

36 chicarmoire

Fellow Fed here. Take a minimum of 2 weeks off, YOU WILL NEED IT. Seriously, baby’s are exhausting. And Mom Ninja will need your help. Then, taper off. Work 3 days week 3, 2 days week 2, etc. Then save some days for well baby check ups because you’ll be in there every month for the first 6 months.

Best of luck!

37 CR

I was lucky to have my mom with us for a good number of weeks. My husband took 6 weeks off after she left. If I didn’t have the option of having my mom, I’d have wanted my husband home for at least 4 weeks. It truly helped me recover fast when I got quantity and quality sleep in the first 4 weeks following the birth. Nobody mentioned to me postpartum aches and pains, so I’m still so grateful that I had the support that I had. You might want to save some of your leave for later. Things can get unpredictable in the first year of parenthood, but it’s also going to be exciting and fun.

38 Bert

I’d take 3-6 weeks off (with pay) and get back to work. Not trying to be heartless or anything. There will be plenty of time for play and burritos later. We’re men, and we provide for our families. I would totally unplug for those weeks and have my full-time job be nothing but Dad and hubby. I’d also let my wife pick how many weeks for me to be out. But just because I COULD take 12 weeks does not mean I WOULD. That kind of time off would ruin me. Speaking from 5 kids-worth of experience.

39 momninja

Do what works for GN, even when you are working you are home so she may want breaks from you. You will need to manage the puppyninja as she will be busy and tired.

A few weeks off is great if you can go to Cali for part of it that is even better get some sun and California Burritos of course.

Bank some sick time, it’s best to have some on the books as you know surprises can pop up at any time.

It’s a great “problem” to have and you two will work out what works best for you.

40 katy mom of 2

You are not going anywhere the first month. If C-section (hope not) GN needs weeks to be able to recover. If regular birth her recovery will be less. You will also need to be able to take baby to doctors appointments and you want to have your doctor that you actually like. You have to shop around for pediatricians. Healthy babies go to the doctor at least three times in the first month. You can have fun and be out and about with a newborn. Please remember that when they say you lose sleep, they mean you have to steal what sleep you do get, and you want to be in your own bed for that. As for future sick time remember that if GN gets sick you will be using your time to take care of her and the baby. After a month you will know how easy or difficult your baby is in a car, being held by strangers, etc. I say paid leave for a month.

41 M

Wow– what a cool position to be in! I will say that this choice is highly dependent on so many things to your personal family that whatever anyone else’s opinion is truly doesn’t matter :)

But since you asked, for our family, my husband took three weeks off with our first, and then only a week off each with our next two children. With the first, three weeks was almost too much for me. Don’t get me wrong I adored having him around all day helping me, but in some ways it made me transition to being a SAHM a bit more difficult. By the end of the three weeks I wanted him to quit work and we all just stay home and hang out with our sweet little baby forever. Since we aren’t independently wealthy that wouldn’t have worked out for us! He didn’t use all his time in the beginning though so he was able to take lots of days off for the first year and we enjoyed that thoroughly.

As a parent you learn that there are many people that won’t agree with your parenting choices/thoughts/opinions and often times people will be very (negatively) vocal with those opinions. You just have to focus on your family and what you think is best for them. Keep being positive, and know that babies can throw wrenches in even the best laid plans. Roll with the punches and things will be just fine.

42 JE

I remember when I was a soon to be dad, I hated all the “YOUR LIFE IS OVER” comments people would make. It seriously depressed me. People took every opportunity they could to tell me this little baby I was so in love with was going to ruin my life, but “enjoy every minute of it…” It built up so much pressure in me that when my son was born, I had a very hard time enjoying it because I was (1) scared to death; and (2) too worried I wasn’t enjoying every minute of it. I’ve learned “carpe diem” is distracting. Let yourself be you, do what you know is right, and don’t be worried that not every part of fatherhood is fun (but, honestly, a lot of it is really, really fun).

43 Sara

That’s a fun problem to think about! It sounds like your company is somewhat flexible, but I would just double check with HR on the work two weeks, stay home two weeks thing. My mom had to take FMLA early last year for breast cancer, and she wanted to be able to work when she felt well enough and take off when she didn’t, but her company was weird about it.

44 Ninja

That makes sense. I have complete flexibility as long as I have a written plan documented before I begin my FMLA. So I can do the two weeks on, two weeks off thing if that is what I indicate up front.

what I can’t do, is call in on a day I’m supposed to work and say I’m not coming in because of FMLA. Or vice versa, can’t work a day that I had indicated in my plan I would be taking off.

45 Lindsey

First, I think it’s awesome that you will have the flexibility, as the dad, to be home for any length of time. My husband got one week only after each one of my two kids. From my perspective, as the mom, I would have LOVED to have him home for a greater length of time. I would suggest for you 4 weeks of paid time completely off and then go back 1/2 time (maybe half days) for the rest. That way you can schedule doctor’s appointments in the afternoon or whatever.

I think what you will find is the first month or so you will be living in this complete fog of sleep deprivation (you will know it when you experience it – I’ll be interested to read your take on this when the time comes) and will be trying to figure out the whole kid thing in general. This takes time that I think you might be underestimating.

Also, don’t forget you could encounter any of the following:
Baby comes early (#1 was 2 weeks early, #2 was 3 weeks early)
Difficult pregnancy/birth resulting in longer/slower recovery for GN
Baby could require special care after birth – for a host of reasons and even if not serious, might require additional Dr. visits.

Having been there, you should build in a margin now and not overbook yourself lest you get overwhelmed and need to cancel on commitments.

46 Jane

I too am a government employee. I wouldn’t burn all of my sick leave, you are going to need it in the future now that you have a child and one income. I might consider using some of my SL with the unpaid FMLA option. I would probably take as much unpaid leave as I could stand and reasonably afford.

47 chicarmoire

Be careful about too much lwop, it can effect benefits like leave accumulation, health insurance and tsp contributions. Check with hr.

48 coolfamilylife

What an amazing opportunity! We have three kids. My first two kids came a week late and my third came three days late. Every parent is different but I took my son to an NHL hockey game when he was 2 weeks old and my daughter to the Calgary Stampede when she was 3 weeks old. Some people don’t feel like leaving their house for a month. Some days are exhausting but if you’re both looking after one baby and taking turns during the night, I hope that will be helpful. I breastfed all my babies so it was just me, myself and I at night and hubby only had 5 days off. I find there are trying times and super wonderful times in those early weeks/months. Depends on hormones, your personalities and that of your baby as well as medical issues if any. I’d take the summer off or at least one month and then part time the second month. As for your parents vacation home and working at the camp, you’d just have to book it around appointments and how your wife and baby are doing!

49 Money Saving Dude

I think you should take the time off with pay, so that you can have the money to spend when needed. It really is quite unfair that not every profession has a sabbatical, isn’t it?

50 Christene // MommaBird

Congratulations :)

When do you have to decide by?

If Girl Ninja has a vaginal delivery with no complications health & recovery wise, I would say a few weeks (3-4) and if you can gradually go back to work. If she needs or decided to get a C section, then I would add in some more time off to allow her to recover.

You guys will do great!

51 C The Writer

AFTER the baby is born? Dude…you’re not going on vacation. You’re not having burritos, and you’re not going to San Diego. You’re going to stay home and help your wife change diapers, burp your baby, and get up at 2 am because the baby’s screaming his/her head off. You’re going to be exhausted and drained of energy and after awhile you’re probably going to want to kill yourself.

Whatever that crack is you’re smoking, it must be some pretty powerful stuff!

52 Ninja

Optimistic as always you are.

And I wasn’t aware I would be unable to change diapers and burp babies in California. Why do you think that can only happen in our home. It’s this weird things families do called, wait for it, vacation.

53 C The Writer

How about focusing on being a parent and not whisking your newborn infant off to strange new locales? Maybe you should try to bond with your child and let your new little family adjust instead of trying to live like you did when you had no kids.

Many parents have said as much in the comments above. I don’t even have kids and I know it’s a stupid idea. Use your leave to take care of your kid. That’s what you’re going to do–take care of your kid. And yeah, I recommend staying home. It’s not really the time to go on vacation.

54 Ninja

Strange locales? It’s a freakin newborn. It doesn’t know left from right. It sure as heck won’t know that Palm Springs isn’t its permanent residence if we spent the first few months of its life there.

I couldn’t think of a better way to bond with a kid than spend three months in Palm Springs with him/her and my wife. No work distractions. No friend distractions. Just the three of us taking advantage of an unused vacation home my in-laws have.

That said….

I can’t believe people are getting hung up on California or YL camp as though that is a serious contender. Although both are options I can almost guarantee neither will come to fruition. Too many logistics and too overwhelming. Hence the reason I said “dreaming” and not “considering” when speaking of those options.

The point of the post wasn’t “where should I vacation” it was simply “how much time should I take off”. 90% of commenters picked up on that, 10% read the words “San Diego” and decided to ignore the point of the article.

55 C The Writer

Just stay home and help your wife take care of the baby and get used to being a parent. It’s not that complicated.

56 rlj

First, the m in fmla stands for medical, so if you were to have some unforeseen accident down the road, fmla would cover you in those instances too. Second, I agree with a lot of people who are saying planning to go to Young Life camp might be a bit too ambitious. It’s ultimately your prerogative to do so, but you and girl ninja are probably going to be exhausted the first month or so. I think you should do a month paid and two weeks unpaid, giving you and your growing family a chance to get accustomed to everything. Congratulations, I personally hope to be in the same boat soon (on the chick side of things).

57 rlj

Okay, sorry, “planning” may have been too strong a word (judging from your reaction to other posters). Be careful what you put out in the universe, people will stick zone in on it and quickly let it consume them!

58 Tanya

I have no idea why do people get on you about this article. All you said is “I’m seriously dreaming about taking the family to….”
Just because he’s dreaming about something does not mean he will do it, Maybe ninja baby will be the perfect baby that sleeps through the night and never cries, and then they will go to the moon, maybe the baby will be on 1hour sleep/cry schedule and they will be so exhausted at what point he will call his parents leave the baby and run away. The guy just said he was dreaming about it (with his family)
How many of people out there seriously dream about leaving their job, winning the lottery, killing their spouse :) … do they really do it?

59 rlj

It was a poor choice on his part to have even put it out there. “Selective listening”, or in this case “selective reading”. One can dream, but sometimes it’s best to keep those dreams to yourself (and honestly, I don’t think most people put stuff out there like that unless some part of them, no matter how small, is seriously considering the possibility).

60 C The Writer

Uh…he ends it by saying “I don’t know what I’m going to do!” then starts with San Diego and burritos and Young Life. So what other conclusion are we supposed to draw?

Sounds to me like he hasn’t fully accepted the reality of what’s coming. It’s okay. When the baby is born, it will become real, and he’ll get that his life is nothing like it was before, and he’ll be lucky if between work and his child he even has time to eat anything or take a minute for himself in the bathroom, let alone go on vacation and eat burritos.

He’s just being silly, like many young men are wont to. He’ll get over it.

61 Alice

Hey there C, how are you? Hope you’re doing well. If you still have my email address, feel free to email me.

62 Kelsey G.

I really can’t recommend how long to take off of work, but I just wanted to comment and say how excited I am for you and your (growing!) family. I’m a fairly new reader of your blog, but I’m excited nonetheless. My husband and I have been married for less than a year, just bought a house, and are in the process of paying off all of our debt (student loans and mortgage). I’m starting to get babies on the brain, but I hope you continue to give us lots of updates so I can get a sense of what’s to come! Congratulations to you and Girl Ninja. :)

63 Kelsey G.

I really can’t recommend how long to take off of work, but I just wanted to comment and say how excited I am for you and your (growing!) family. I’m a fairly new reader of your blog, but I’m excited nonetheless. My husband and I have been married for less than a year, just bought a house, and are in the process of paying off all of our debt (student loans and mortgage). I’m starting to get babies on the brain, so I hope you continue to give us lots of updates so I can get a sense of what’s to come! Congratulations to you and Girl Ninja. :)

64 Nisha

I would say you should take up to 8-12 weeks and enjoy it with your family however that will be. Paid would be nice.

We had a very colic baby who cried almost 24 hrs a day no matter what we did but that did not stop us from travelling and spending time doing lots of fun things together while getting to know each other as a family.

My baby is now 4 years and she’s already been to 33 different countries. This is what we enjoy doing together and we do what works for us and makes us happy. Everyone will learn what will work for them when the baby comes just like you will. All of our other friends stopped everything they used to do (all my other friends had babies who slept and ate well) but we continued to do all that we wanted regardless.

65 Lutus

Ninja, here is what I did when my first was born and what I am also planning on doing in a couple months when the second one is born.

-2 weeks off (paid) followed by
-3 weeks half time (20 hours a week)

Then back to the grind stone.

One other suggestion is a sleeping schedule, not for baby, but for you and Mrs. Ninja. I took first shift (8PM-2AM) and then my wife took over so I could sleep to go to work at 9AM. She would cat nap during the day as the baby slept.

Good luck! :)

66 Cat

My two cents doesn’t really matter because it is not my baby, but I loved having my husband home with baby #1 for twelve weeks. He wasn’t able to take as much time with baby #2 (3 days) and I wish he would have been able to.

I think going to CA and a vacation home sounds like a great idea. We traveled a ton with baby #1 in the first twelve weeks and loved it. However, I nursed and I was not prepared for the “twelve week swamp” – baby pees on you while nursing because diaper leaks, baby takes mouthful of milk and spits it out before swallowing, other side leaks while nursing on one side, baby spits up, nursing baby in summer + hormones going back to normal = sweat and more sweat, tears from baby blues and exhaustion (first week or two). I loved being home because I could shower and having my husband there allowed me to shower whenever I wanted. Also, I could wear sweats and t-shirt all the time. With baby #2, I smelled like sour milk until hubby got home :) Not to nitpick the Young Life idea since I know nothing about it, but unless I had my own shower and didn’t have to share, no thanks. Bathing a baby at camp doesn’t sound like fun. Bathing a baby in a vacation home – yes please.

Baby #2 was in and out of the hospital for the first six months and had a depressed immune system so traveling was not an option. Germs from strangers, no thanks. If we had made any other plans, they would have had to have been adjusted.

I would say don’t plan anything (travel, work, etc) that you would feel bad for not doing or couldn’t get out of. Otherwise, you can take a healthy baby and wife anywhere. Bonding doesn’t have to be at home, in the middle of the night and quiet. Flexibility is really the key.

67 Em

It blows my mind reading the comments from the people upset you would suggest taking your child to California or working at Young Life for a month. I’m a mother of 3 children under 6 and in my opinion parenthood is what you make of it. If you go into it thinking that it is going to change your life then it probably will. It certainly doesn’t have to. I do the same things I did before having kids now I just do them with my children. And I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to share my interests with them.

If Ninja chooses to take 12 weeks off of work then I see nothing wrong with spending a month in California(it certainly doesn’t have to be the first month) or working at Young Life for a month. Many fathers go right back to work after the baby is born and still find ways to bond with their child.

68 Meeeeee

So much depends on if your baby is a jackass. Our baby was so easy so we went to Mexico on an all inclusive because Canada is cold and a Mexican 5 star resort was warm. It meant that all we had to do was take care of the baby – no cooking no cleaning. We went to st lucia when she was three months old and to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, and Bali when she was six months old. This worked for us because our kid was healthy, she wasn’t on a schedule (she slept when she was tired/ate when she was hungry) and we were flexible. It was one of the best years of my life – and one I would recommend if you and your wife and your baby are up for it. So go to California! Go to camp! We had people over more in the months after the baby was born than ever before – we travelled more, we went out to eat more, we did everything we wanted because we could and our baby was easy.

Oh – and for taking time off? Take it alllll off!

69 ND Chic

What baby is a jackass? What kind of person are you? Some babies are difficult because they’re not as easily comforted but they are not jackasses.

I cannot imagine that your wife would want to be anywhere but home. She will hurt from delivery in some way. Baby blues are very common too. I don’t know anybody who wants to leave their house when they can’t stop crying. If you think there is no way that won’t happen to your wife, start asking around. If your wife will be breastfeeding, its hard to get the hang of at first. Its easier to do at home where you can do it uncovered anywhere.

The whole tone of your post is that you are excited about having a vacation. I have a two month old and I do think that babies are fun. I wasn’t sleep deprived. But its not a vacation and I would have been very upset if my husband would have just wanted a vacation.

70 South Texas

No… some babies are jackasses.

My neighbor asked me once “is he a good baby?” and I thought for a minute, then said “no”. Neighbor was offended, but honesty is not always socially acceptable, I guess.

But you never know what you’re going to get, two of mine were super easy. Vacationing might be a little ambitious though. Not to be all doomsday, but it is going to be harder than you think. Not at all like a puppy.

As far as sick pay goes… when I worked for the government, one of my co-workers had something like 2 1/2 years of sick pay saved up and was going to be able to retire early because of it. Not sure if everyone can do that though. She was old, and they used to have different rules.

71 bun

A little off topic but after reading all these posts referencing 6 + months of no sleep – read (or suggest to GN) ‘Bringing up Bebe.’ As much as I dislike the French, the book really has some key points about getting babies to sleep a night through, adapt to the family’s pre-existing schedule and more. The author explores the hyper-vigilant American parenting ideal vs the laissez-faire French and shows how much more mature, calm, and independent French children become vs American/British children.

72 C The Writer

“As much as I dislike the French”

How many French people do you actually know personally? Or are you just a hater?

73 Steve

Take 6 weeks. Paid.

If I remember correctly you work from home, you will want a private space for your office work.

I would take the extra time, only if Girl Ninja wants it. She might prefer you distracted.

A baby dog is like a new born, they cost you money and they run their owners/parents. :)

If I was you, I’d eat my burritos on a surprise trip to Palm Springs over spring break or Easter.

74 Laura

My husband took 2 full weeks off and then worked about 20 hours for another month or so. Our daughter was a fussy baby and I also got sick after delivery so having him around so much kept my sanity. The first 2 weeks, the baby was easy and slept all the time but I was recovering from delivery and sick. Then the baby realized she was out of the womb and not happy about it. We double-teamed her and it allowed him to really bond with her and learn EVERYTHING about caring for a baby. I’d consider taking 3 full weeks off and then going part time for 4-6 weeks.

75 Jeanne

Since you aren’t sure that you’ll need the sick leave later, and you don’t get paid out if you don’t use it, why not get paid now, take unpaid leave later if you need it?

That said, if baby goes to daycare, you WILL need to use a fair amount of sick leave, as they catch every little thing that goes around. That’s the dirty little secret of babies … I never anticipated how sick we all would be once our first baby started daycare.

Just one other note – m/paternity leave is NOT like a sabbatical. Give up on any ideas of accomplishing much – this is your time to bond with baby (and help your wife out!)

76 Mary

As a mom of 4, I would have loved having my husband home for at least the first six weeks. Even if your wife has the best of birth experiences, she will be exhausted. Baby is exhausted, as well, for the first 24 hours so the real fun begins after that. We are campers (the tent kind) and I can’t imagine bringing a newborn to any kind of camp location, but to each his own. As for California (and I didn’t know Palm Springs was in San Diego???), I would wait a couple weeks before travelling. Just gives you, your wife and the baby time to adjust and get a routine going. Although, summer in Palm Springs is HOT, HOT, HOT. Too bad the house isn’t in the San Diego beach area.
Good luck.

77 N3L

I work in law enforcement and I just took 6 weeks off for FMLA. I would say 4-6 weeks is PLENTY of time as a father to bond with your newborn. Our baby boy is our first child and after a couple of weeks, if you are anything like me, you start going stir crazy. I would use a month or so and save the rest of your sick time for future needs. Just my 2 cents :).

78 Melanie

You need to come to Canada, my Ninja friend for a friendly thing here we call Parental Leave :)

Sorry for all the hate you’re getting on this post today. Ultimately it’s up to you and Girl Ninja. Guess what, when I had a kid I didn’t know what to expect either because…wait for it…it was my first one!!! So you roll with what life gives you – a lot depends on the temperment of the baby and your comfort level as well as GN, and then you develop your own routines and figure it out together.

It’s the most frustrating and rewarding experience of my life thus far!

79 Laura

Lots of people have given you advice, but I just want to second the comments that said that girl Ninja will definitely want you around to help for the first month. I’d say you definitely want to be home all the time for the first 3 weeks, maybe work 2 days a week for the next 2 weeks, and ramp it up from there. If the baby has any medical problems, feeding problems, etc., then you may need to adjust if possible. But definitely, DEFINITELY go for a gradual transition between being home and going back to work. If you’re home full time and then one day you just start working full time again, it’s going to be a very hard transition for GN.

The other thing is, people are right when they say you’re not going to get a lot done during that time. The reason you get family leave when you have a baby is that babies are a lot of work! I remember before my first baby was born, I just couldn’t understand how people would say that never got to shower after their baby was born. That seemed crazy. Showering only takes 5 minutes! But then I had a baby who literally would not sleep anywhere but in someone’s arms. Never. Always had to be in your arms, or she would scream. It wasn’t me – my second baby isn’t like this at all. Babies are just different. So you don’t know how easy or hard it’s going to be until it happens… don’t make plans you can’t cancel. :)

Previous post:

Next post: