This is not the title of a bad horror movie (Dads of Twins and Multiples – The Rise of the Stay at Home Dad! Oohh, scary!) but the start of a very welcome trend.
When there are twin newborns there is double the work of one baby, and when there are triplets or more the parents are seriously outnumbered. More Dads of twins and multiples are choosing to stay home from work for a period of paternity leave to get the family through that exhausting and crucial first year.
Why stay at home dads are such a good idea
More and more families are recognising this trend as a great option for the family. The standard dad-stays-home-for-four-weeks-then-returns-to-work-and-leaves-mum-at-home-feeling-slightly-abandoned is thankfully becoming less popular as couples are exploring other ways of doing things.
This could mean:
- Both mum and dad take leave and stay home to care for the babies when they are really little, either at the same time or in tandem
- Both work part-time only and have equal time home with the children
- Dad stays home full-time while mum goes back to work
More women are wanting to keep their careers on track and are unwilling (or unable) to take a long time out of the workforce. And with increasingly higher (or as I like to call them, ‘fairer’) wages, many mums have the opportunity to earn as much if not more than their partners.
And more dads are exploring staying home with their babies. This decision is becoming more socially acceptable, more practical and more supported by employers.
It was never really that dads didn’t want to stay home with the babies or didn’t want to be more involved in their lives – far from it. It’s just that it wasn’t common, so most dads didn’t consider it.
How can dads of twins make their lives better by staying home with the babies?
It reduces the mum’s workload, giving parents more time together and more downtime
If both parents can take time off together this is living the dream. Sharing the load of work that two or more babies have a magical ability to create is an excellent idea.
Both parents have a greater understanding of what it is like to stay home with more than one tiny baby, which can help to bring you closer as parents. Even just having an extra grown-up person in the house can make things feel easier and less disconnected and surreal.
When both parents are home they have more chances to connect with each other, as well as more ability to each take a break while the other takes over. There is just one massive workload that is parenting, rather than parenting plus working externally plus trying to connect as a couple and understand what each is going through alone.
Dads of twins and multiples have more chance to get involved
Dads want to have a greater bond with their babies and to know what is going on in their daily lives. It doesn’t feel like it when you are home with newborns, but they do grow and develop exceptionally quickly, and if you aren’t there to witness it firsthand you can miss out on so much.
When mum is the only parent the babies connect to strongly, this puts a bigger burden on the mother and can make dad feel rejected or useless. Every extra opportunity dad has to bond with his children and get to know them is better for everyone involved.
And these benefits will not only be felt now but can extend far into the child’s development when they have a stronger and more intimate connection with dad.
Save money on childcare and other costs
Childcare costs are kind of whopping and don’t seem to be getting any smaller. Costs for babies are high because the staff to child ratio is higher in the baby room of any centre. When you have to put twins or multiples in care, you don’t very often get a two for one rate, so the cost can be crippling to a new couple.
For many people on low or middle incomes, working while having a baby in childcare can mean that you are purely working to pay the childcare costs. With two babies, this can mean both parents are working just to pay for childcare.
For some, it is more financially viable for one or both parents to stay home than to pay childcare costs for more than one baby. And because childcare subsidies and government assistance drop when parents earn more, it can make more practical sense for the family to make a decision not to work more than a certain amount.
Parents quite reasonably would rather stay home and take this special time to bond with their babies than work to pay for childcare and financially be no better off.
Paternity Leave for Stay at Home Dads – is it really available?
While the specifics of leave available for dads both through government assistance and from employers will vary from country to country, it does seem to be looking positive. Modern companies are taking great steps to embrace the needs of modern families.
In Australia for example, paid parental leave assistance is available through Centrelink for either mum or dad for a new baby. This is equivalent to minimum wage and is paid for up to 18 weeks (roughly four months).
Legally either mum or dad is eligible for up to 12 months unpaid leave from their employment without jeopardising their job or career advancement (there are specifics and conditions around this, for more information see the Fair Work Ombudsman website).
Many employers are taking this further and offering paid parental leave as part of their employment contracts.
More employers are moving away from separate maternal and paternal leave policies to a gender- neutral parental leave option, which means, of course, that dad will be just able to take leave as mum.
Usually, this is not payable to both parents at the same time though, because only one ‘primary carer’ is eligible for it at a time. But the freedom does mean that dads can choose to be the parent to stay home and their full wage is still paid.
It also means that parents could each choose to take three or six months, giving the babies care over the first year without a significant detriment to either parents’ career.
So how about that, not a horror movie at all, but an awesome example of equality and sanity from all parties involved! We are all for more stay at home dads – bring it on.
Remember, having one baby is hard work! Having 2, 3 or 4 at once, means you are outnumbered from the start!! Regardless of what is happening for you at this point in your life, I’m sure you are doing a great job!!
You’ve got this!!!
Twinfo is Australia’s largest, most supportive, online community for parents of twins and triplets. Twinfo offers advice, products and services that make raising your babies easier, freeing you up to enjoy all the precious moments.