I submitted my paternity benefit form during the week folks. A big moment in the run-up to the birth. It was a very straightforward process and I just wanted to get it all sorted ahead of time. As I mentioned previously it's my plan to take the two weeks paternity leave straight away after the baby is born and then add on a few holiday days too. But this leads me to a big topic for a lot of couples when it comes to having a baby... money.
I might be way off, but each partner in a couple brings a particular set of skills to the relationship. (And yes I said that in the Liam Neeson voice from Taken too).
There's usually a planner (my wife), the eternal optimist, the chef, the DIY one, the one who doesn't think of all the consequences, the 'go with the flow' one (me) and the good with money one (my wife).
I bring a lot to the table in this relationship, well I'd like to think this, I do make a wonderful Eggs Benedict, but I'll admit I'm not the greatest when it comes to budgeting. Now I've gotten better over the years but I'm fortunate to have married a woman who loves budgeting.
Which is fucking fantastic as we will, like many couples, be on a reduced monthly income while my wife is on maternity leave for 6 months.
Budgeting & Money
To put in perspective how much my wife loves planning and budgeting. All one has to do is ask who her celebrity crush is. Well, it's Eoin McGee, the man behind the show 'How to be Good with Money'.
If I had a fiver for every time my wife has quoted me something Eoin has said on tv or from his book. I'd have a nice little 'buffer' put aside in a long term savings account which will mature into a large fund which Salt & Pepper can use to pay off the mortgage and have enough sugar cubes left over for a 'rainy day'.
I know I'm taking the piss slightly but in reality, I do appreciate the effort my wife goes to in creating our monthly budget so that we are in a comfortable position each month and over the next few months and have that buffer.
My job is simply to stick to the budget, something which I can and will happily do.
If you're like me and hate the thought of doing out a budget. All I can say is lads, everyone fucking does. No one wants to do one but necessity dictates it has to be done.
So do what I do, go have your piss and moan about doing it. Throw on a coffee, man the fuck up (or woman for any female readers) and sit uncomfortably through the process without feeling like running through the glass back door would be less painful than this.
In the long run, it will benefit both of you and I'll say this it's great to get it all sorted and laid out before the baby arrives. Me fuck would I like to be doing budgeting with a potential crying baby in my arms.
Illness Benefit & Maternity Benefit
Right as you might be aware my wife was signed out from work by her GP. So, my wife can apply for illness benefit in the interim until her maternity leave starts and then the maternity benefit takes over.
Few things that might be helpful to know on this for any parents-to-be. If you're wife or partner is signed out by their GP, they can apply for illness benefit which is €203 per week. As I said already, this is up until the beginning of Maternity leave. What's worth noting on this is that your wife/partner will not get the illness benefit for the first week they are off. (As of the 1st of March that has been changed to 3 days).
Maternity leave is for 26 weeks which is 6 months and your wife/partner are entitled to €245 per week for this duration. As far as I'm aware, your wife/partner can take an extra 3 months of maternity leave on top of this. However, those 3 months would be unpaid leave.
Once the baby is born, you'll also be entitled to the child benefit which is €140 on the first Tuesday of every month.
Obviously, everyone's financial circumstance differs, but I'm just throwing these numbers up here to give you them and an idea of what your own finances might look like.
Paternity Leave for us Dads
Now, I got confused a while back about this as there was an announcement made in the Budget about extending, (which I thought at the time), paternity leave to 5 weeks.
I thought at the time, that's the fucking job. First 5 weeks off for my baby's life, I can completely engross myself in being a parent for the first time. So, I was right and I was wrong at the same time.
It was actually my good friend 'The Wine Bluff' who explained it all to me after his HR department explained it to him.
So, Dads and Dads to be. Here's the breakdown, you have 3 types of leave. Paternity Leave, Parents Leave & Parental Leave.
Paternity Leave: This is 2 weeks statutory leave, where you get social welfare and your employer might top this up to keep you at full pay for 2 weeks which is the norm but do check with your employer.
Parents Leave: This is 5 weeks of social welfare and is €205 euro a week. This is what was extended to 5 weeks in the budget. You are entitled to it Dad's however, unlike paternity leave, your employer won't top this up (the extra 3 weeks). It then becomes a decision for many Dads and couples, can you afford to take that time off with that amount of money coming in?
Parental Leave: Finally, this is up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave which is when you have kids under the age of 12. As far as I'm aware, it can be used anytime up to that age and oftentimes for example is used sporadically should your child be sick and you need to take a day or 2 off to look after them.
It's not the Instagram version of becoming a Parent but the Reality
This is the side of pregnancy that isn't that glamourous. But it's the truth and the sooner you have these talks before the baby arrives the better. I have and that awkward painful money conversation is now behind me and I can focus on other things parenting related. Yes, we'll have ongoing chats about it but it won't be the big sit down as you'd say.
I suppose the only disappointing thing with paternity leave for Dads in this country is that 2 weeks seems so brief. I know I'm not the only Dad that would love more paternity leave and to invest serious time into those early weeks of the baby's life and parenthood but unfortunately, I need to work to ensure we have enough money for X and Y etc. There are many Dads who are in the same position and I suppose it's just a matter of getting on with it.
The one blessing of this pandemic in my eyes is that I'm working from home. Which I love, by the way, it's the not being able to do anything or go anywhere that's a ball ache. But working from home will allow me to spend time with my baby first thing in the morning, then on my lunch and once the end of the day arrives. I can down tools, the laptop, and I'm a 10-second walk to helping my wife with the baby.
Now it's time to whack on the kettle before ticking some more stuff off the baby checklist. Now only if I could find some sugar cubes? We seem to be running out a lot.