What’s it Like To Be a New Dad During Parental Leave?

By: Gary Parkinson on March 4, 2015

If you are part of a couple with plans to start a family, chances are that you’ve begun to ask a series of potentially life-changing questions. Are you emotionally ready for a baby? How about financially? What kinds of plans, financial or otherwise, are required before the baby is born? And perhaps the most pressing, who will take time off to raise the baby?

Traditionally the mothers stay home to be with their newborns, while the fathers work, even work overtime, to support the family. Canadian labour law does allow parents to share or split parental leave, which does give new fathers the option to take time off from their own jobs.

But if you are a father who chooses to be the breadwinner for the family, you should prepare for what that role will truly be like. How will one regular income affect your household budget throughout the duration of parental leave? Will you be able to balance time between work and home life?

Our two co-founders are both fathers who provide financially for their growing families. Perhaps your experience will be similar to one of theirs.

Justin Thouin, CEO of LowestRates, Father Of Two

Anyone with children knows that parenthood changes your lives forever. It is an amazing, rewarding experience that cannot be replaced by anything else. But it does make your life much busier, leaving you with little spare time. Also, kids are very expensive!

My wife is an emergency room physician, and we have two children – Madeleine who is 5, and Cassandra who is 2. My wife's maternity leave for Cassie was especially tricky from a financial standpoint. At that point in time, Lowest Rates was just getting started, and I was unable to take a salary.

We were relying on my wife's salary prior to that point as the business was still growing. But when she went on maternity leave, we had no money coming in, yet still the same (if not greater) expenses. It is really important to plan for times like these, and also explains why I am so passionate about what we do at Lowest Rates.

Saving money is so important, yet so difficult, and it is really crucial for Canadians to save in any way they can.

Cliff Ritter, CMO of LowestRates, Father Of One (Soon To Be Two)

Becoming a father is easily one of the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was ecstatic at becoming a primary role model for another person.

When we had Kayla in 2011, I had only been a consultant for a few years, which limited the amount of income I brought in to support my family. Luckily my wife had a thriving dance business that generated enough money to support the family through the pregnancy and the early years of raising our daughter.

Our challenge was that we were both self employed and need to use parental leave in a way that best fit our needs. I continued consulting to bring in any additional income while ensuring I had enough time to spend raising Kayla.

My advice is that it’s critical for any parents, especially self employed families to save and plan for the future. Find the right balance between earning and consulting as well as devoting time to spend with the family.

What To Consider For Your Own Family

Your experience as a new parent will likely be different from either of our two co-founders. But there may be some similar circumstances that may help you lay out your own plans for the future.

If possible, speak to a friend or family member about parental leave. Ask relevant questions, such as advice for how to negotiate the time off with your employer. You may even want to speak with a financial planner for advice about ensuring your money will keep you secure throughout parental leave.

Always keep in mind that every person and every family is unique; there is no fixed way to prepare for parental leave. Use the advice that you can find to give you a broad idea of what to expect, and adapt specific points to your own situation. If you put in time to create a plan, you’re already on the right path to becoming a responsible, supportive parent.