Two fathers talk about their lives with children and work
Fathers are attaching more and more importance to being involved in caring work at home as well as at work. This is why they are taking parental leave more often than before or working part-time. Two fathers report on their experiences with this.
"When our child was on the way, it was clear to my girlfriend and I from the outset that we wanted to share all tasks as much as possible as partners and on an equal footing. My girlfriend works as a freelance graphic designer and I am a permanent employee in a production company with almost 100 employees. In the initial period after the birth, the focus of childcare was naturally on my girlfriend because of breastfeeding. That's why I split my parental leave: Two months straight after the birth, another two months six months later and another two months after a year and a half. This way, I was able to support my girlfriend through the two later parental leave phases in finding her way back to work.
Spending a lot of time with our daughter and, above all, managing everyday life was (and still is) a great experience. Before the birth, I had a full-time job. Now we both work four days each, a childminder looks after our daughter on three days and we can cover the two missing days well.
My employer supports me and other mothers and fathers in the company. We get 200 euros more salary per child - but that's not the most important thing. Overall, there is a family-friendly culture in our company - and that's what matters. There were no problems reducing my weekly working hours, and I can also take unpaid leave if necessary. We work on the basis of trust-based working hours - so I can pick up my daughter at 4 pm and continue working after I've put her to bed in the evening.
However, one conflict has yet to be resolved: If I reduce my working hours or am absent spontaneously because our daughter is ill, I feel like I'm putting a strain on my colleagues. We are short-staffed, so absences can only really be compensated for by the team working overtime. We are pretty much left alone with this. It would be good if the management - preferably together with us employees - could develop ideas on how we could get a better handle on this situation.
And I would like the company to proactively inform its expectant mothers and fathers about the deadlines that need to be met, for example with regard to parental allowance and parental leave. This is not so easy for individual employees to understand."
"Right from the start, we set out to look after the children as partners. As a father, it's important for me to take responsibility for the children. I enjoy spending a lot of time with them. I also want my wife to always have the opportunity to continue working in her job so that she doesn't lose touch.
We now have three sons. The eldest is five years old, the middle one is three years old and the youngest is five months old. After the births, my wife was always on full parental leave for six to twelve months. Breastfeeding works well, so we want to make the most of this time. As soon as our youngest is doing well with complementary feeding, I can reduce my working hours again and my wife can come back. From the second parental leave onwards, we both worked 30 hours a week, spread evenly over the days, i.e. 6 hours a day, as both children were already in childcare. This meant that one of us could start work early and pick up the children in the afternoon, while the other brought the children in the morning and worked longer hours. We will continue to do this during our third parental leave.
My wife and I work as an actuary and a software developer in the IT sector and are both lucky enough to work for employers who make us feel very comfortable and promote a good work-life balance. It was not a problem for either my wife or me to take a full month of parental leave or part-time parental leave. During this time, we were able to determine the number of hours per week ourselves and also decide for ourselves when we work during the day.
Our companies also offer home offices as an integral part of our work, which gives us additional flexibility in how we organize our day."
The two examples presented make it clear: there is no one solution for everyone. You should therefore talk openly with your employer about options for reconciling work and family life in the long term.
You can also find a wide range of information and advice at the Bundesforum Männer: https://bundesforum-maenner.de/themen/arbeit/