Paternity leave is still a bit of a toss up. Some companies offer dads a few weeks off with their new babies, some have the option of taking unpaid leave, some get no time off at all. Others have to use up their vacation and sick days if they want to spend time at home with their newborn.
My husband got 10 whole days off when we had our daughter, and five of those days were spent in the hospital after a complicated C-section procedure. So, I got five whole days of help before my husband was back at work. Lucky me!
And then there are dads who have the option to take time off, but don’t use it — or don’t use it optimally.
This week one TikTok dad posted a video confessing that he wishes he could go back and do things differently with his first born, noting that there is so much weight on a new mom’s shoulders that dad can be helping out with — if he’s given the time off to do so and if he takes the time to do so.
Caleb Remington — partial creator of the popular TikTok account @ustheremingtons — confessed that he had major regrets about how he handled his work-life balance when his first child was born. But now that he’s experiencing the entire being a dad thing again, he’s going to get it right the second time around — for both his kids and his wife.
Remington — who is wrapping up a 7-week paternity leave after the birth of his second child — noted that his entire perspective has changed regarding what it means to be a present parent as well as an active, contributing member of the household.
“It’s unfortunately the end of my maternity —ahem— paternity leave,” Remington says in a voiceover on the video. “I only joke because my wife is truly the man of the house. And call me what you want, but I am totally okay with that.”
Remington laments the end of this paternity leave, noting that he really appreciated the time at home fully dedicated to his wife and family. He also talks about the guilt he still has surrounding his previous decision to take no time off with their first-born.
“To be honest, I am super bummed that this time is ending. But I am acknowledging my privilege because with our first, I didn’t have a single day of paternity leave. This time around, they gave me four weeks and I took an extra three weeks of PTO. And part of me feels guilty that I didn’t do that with our first,” he notes.
“Being present with the kids and literally finding ourselves lost in time, watching ants cross the sidewalk, made me realize how many of those small moments I missed out the first time, but I’m looking past that guilt and grateful that I had some time to make it up.”
He explains that his wife, Tiffany, has been stressed with the state of their house (ie. messy AF), so he decided to pitch in and help vacuum, mop, and take on some other household chores so that Tiffany can focus on the baby. After actually picking up some the slack that so many men leave hanging, he realized *drum roll* that running a household is hard work!
Remington also acknowledges how taking on half the work is the “bare minimum” that men should be doing — no questions asked.
“I’m doing what I can to start picking up some of those domestic responsibilities because I admit with our first newborn this is where I failed. These past seven weeks really opened up my eyes on how the household has actually ran, and 110% of that is because of my wife,” he says.
As the viewer watches Remington mop, vacuum, taking out the trash, and put his toddler down for a nap, he shares that he shouldn’t be applauded as some amazing husband or dad.
“Well, you see in this video is actually what I do on a daily or weekly basis, and for the longest time, I thought I was doing enough of the fair share, but realistically, this is just the bare minimum,” he says.
“It has taken multiple conversations — and many ongoing ones — to truly master on how to take on more of the mental load of raising children, growing our marriage, and taking care of our investments like our home.”
Major props to him for actually listening and changing — and then for sharing his story.
Remington then noted that the second time around, as “new” parents, he and his wife remembered how tense things got between them. This time, they wanted to be more intentional about how they communicated with one another to best work together for the betterment of their marriage and family unit.
“I think people both knew how hard bringing children into the world was, but I definitely think we were naive when it came to how much it would impact our relationship,” he says.
“I honestly hated how much we fought, how much I felt misunderstood, and how much I misunderstood her. We’re actually really good communicators, but I felt like anytime anybody expressed something, the other was hurt. Emotions run totally high during this season, so now as second-time parents, I feel like we’re a little bit more prepared. Prepared in how we talk to each other, prepared in how I balance work, life, and personal life, and prepared to just let things go.”
Remington shouldn’t be applauded or praised just for trying to do half the work or for taking time off work after his baby is born. However, his honesty and willingness to share his mistakes and learned lessons on such a public forum could help other partners who want to do better but don’t know where to start or have some sort of chip on their shoulder because (despite hearing otherwise) they feel like they already do their fair share.
Turns out – there is so much more that needs to be done to run a family and a household, but moms already knew that.
What do we need next? Much, much better parental leave plans for both mothers and fathers who need time at home after a baby is born — and for fathers to normalize taking significant time off when there’s a new addition.