My case of paternity leave

My PaternityPaternity Leave in Japan

My case of paternity leave

I didn’t take one with my first child, but with my second child, I took six months’ leave for the first time.

And now, with the birth of my third child, I am taking a whole year off.

Although the rate of men taking paternity leave in Japan is on the rise, I think it is extremely rare for men like me to take more than one paternity leave, for six months or a year.

I’d like to share how I came to take my paternity leave, what I do while on paternity leave, and what it’s like to take paternity leave.

Why did I take paternity leave when I’m a man?

Childcare is much harder work than you think.

And also housework.

childcare and housework


I learned this the hard way when I had my first child. I took two weeks off with pay to coincide with the due date.

I am ashamed to admit that at the time, I did not even know that I could take paternity leave.

Moreover, it was only two weeks, compared to the year-long period from newborn to infant, which is one of the most difficult child-rearing periods.
If you’ve ever raised a child, you’ll know what I mean when I say “Just a drop in the bucket”.

It was not enough at all.

When I was able to return to work after my two weeks off, of course, I was as busy as ever, working overtime almost every day.

When I got home, I was so exhausted that I didn’t have enough energy to do housework and childcare.
In addition, my eldest daughter’s continuous nighttime crying made it impossible for me to get a good night’s rest due to lack of sleep, and I was still working overtime.
Incidentally, I never imagined at the time that my daughter’s nighttime crying would continue until just before her third birthday.

And I, who had never taken a sick day before, finally got sick and became weak to the point where I had to take many sick days off.

My wife, on the other hand, was having a baby for the first time and taking care of the child, as well as doing all the housework in my absence.
She was also crying at night and not sleeping well, and on top of that, she had mastitis a few months after giving birth.

When she had mastitis, her body had a fever, but couldn’t take any medicine, so she had to endure the pain while doing housework and childcare.

She became almost depressed after childbirth because of the stress and frustration she had to deal with.

I think my wife got even weaker than I was.

hard time

To be honest, I still regret that there was not more I could have done for my wife at that time.

After we got married, we worked together for about five years until we had a child, and we had plenty of time to spare.

However, after the birth of our child, we lost that margin.

We were both thinking “Why am I the only one suffering?”

We were both exhausted from lack of sleep, and each of us was already at overcapacity.
Our capacity without realizing it made us constantly fight with each other.

It was just what we called a postpartum crisis in Japan.

It is said that people cannot make normal judgments when they are tired out or do not get enough sleep, and I think that we fell into this vicious cycle every day.

I managed to make it through the daily struggle until my daughter was about one to two years old, and although I still needed help with childcare, it was a little easier than before.

And before I knew it, we were back to being a good couple.

The burden of raising a child gradually decreases as the child gets older, and our familiarity with child-rearing may have made it easier for us.

However, my experience with my first child made me reflect on the fact that balancing work with housework and childcare is quite a burden.

When I found out my wife was pregnant with my second child, I was thinking about the balance between work and household.

I can change my job by quitting or changing jobs, but my family is irreplaceable.

I, of course, chose my family that was most important to me and decided to abandon my busy but rewarding job.

Because you can’t have it both ways! I thought.
Maybe some men in the world are capable of balancing work, housework, and childcare all at the same time.

Some men can provide a comfortable life for their wives and children while working.

Unfortunately, however, I have realized that I am not capable of balancing work, housework, and childcare then.

So, when my wife became pregnant with our second child, I decided to quit my job and concentrate on housework and childcare for about six months.

But then, for the first time, I learned that men can also take childcare leave.

I should have taken it with my first child, but it was too late.

“I’ll take paternity leave with my second child! And this time, I’ll concentrate on housework and childcare!”

I made up my mind and took it.

What did I do during my paternity leave?

Housework and childcare, of course.

housework and childcare

I even did all the work I could, especially so as not to burden my wife!

In my case, it was cooking, laundry, cleaning, taking care of my two older children, and preparing for and picking them up from school and kindergarten.

Housework and childcare are two words, but each of them is hard and has long hours of work.

Men who want to take paternity leave should first get into the habit of doing housework regularly.

In terms of childcare, there is even more load when you have siblings.

You have to tie your eldest daughter’s hair and do her homework. There’s no end to the number of things I have to do, including bathing all three of them, getting everything I need, taking them to the park, and putting them to bed.

There is no end to it. I support the baby’s care, but there is one thing I cannot do.

That’s breastfeeding!!

This may sound strange, but after doing so many things, I feel very frustrated that I can’t do this.
If I could breastfeed myself, I would be able to help my wife more.

Now that I think about it, I wonder who I’m trying to be, beyond a father.

But just that feeling alone made my wife laugh and happy.

What was it like for a man to take paternity leave?

I think it made the whole family happier.

happy moment with baby

This is entirely my own opinion, but it seemed to me that once my wife was able to relax, everything started to go in the right direction. I think I was able to support her in two ways, physically and mentally.

For example, if a man does everything except breastfeeding, his wife can have more energy and focus on breastfeeding and if he stays at home and takes care of the housework, she will feel relieved that she is not doing it alone.

Especially after childbirth, a mother’s body needs a certain period to regain its strength, and if she is alone during this period, she will have a lot of anxiety.
If a man is there to support her, she will be able to recover faster.
Also, it will be a good family environment for the child.

When I saw how happy my family was that I was taking paternity leave, I was really glad that I took it.

So I strongly believe that men taking paternity leave will lead to a happier families.

And the specific things that need to be done are men’s housework and childcare.