“She is 50% my child, so I will do 50% of the work of caring for her.” That was my first thought when my pregnant wife and I imagined our future life with a newborn.
Luckily, my wife Katharina felt the same and, in addition to these initial thoughts, she listed further benefits of me spending sufficient time with our girl. Not only would paternity leave secure a lifelong bond with our child, it would also help level the playing field for working mothers and reduce the likelihood of us getting divorced. Obviously, we quickly started getting ourselves familiar with Germany's rules on parental leave.
We found out that, since a family policy reform in 2009, Germany has one of the world's most generous parental leave schemes, allowing 14 months of paid absence from work. Without much thinking, we decided to split the months evenly and, to cut to the chase, it was so worth it!
After Katharina cared for our girl through the first 7 months, I was ready to do my part. My boss was informed and had organised a temporary replacement.Oliver with Lilli (on the left) and two other dads with their babies.
Our family lives in Berlin and a quick Google search revealed that there are 70+ regular activities for dads and babies across town, ranging from Paternity Leave Beach Volleyball groups to classical baby concerts or playground dates. Each morning, Lilli and I would pack our things, discover Berlin's baby places, make lots of new friends, and be home for dinner. A place called ‘The Papa Café’, which offers regular breakfasts and a space for fathers and babies during their paternity leave, became our second home.
After 6 years now, Lilli and I have an amazing bond, Katharina makes more money than I, we are far from getting divorced – and two years ago, we enjoyed our second round of parental leave.