Contributed by Etan Basseri
“How was your time off?” My friend asked me when I returned to work after taking ten weeks of paternity leave to care for my four-month-old daughter, thanks to Revel’s Family Leave benefit . My response caught them off-guard when I responded, “It was rewarding, but it was surprisingly exhausting.”
Going into my leave, I had harbored a bit of an illusion of what this “time off” was going to be like. I had imagined all kinds of home improvement projects I’d complete. And I’d have no problem fitting them in between feeding the baby, bathing her, putting her to sleep, shopping, cooking, and cleaning.
Boy was I wrong.
Over the ten weeks, I felt the physical demands of being at home with small kids. My FitBit data reaffirmed this, as I consistently doubled my daily step count compared to what I normally hit while in the office.
So while spending time at home caring for a newborn was far less productive than I imagined in terms of house projects, it was no less exhausting. In fact, I found being a stay-at-home parent requires almost superhuman abilities. And while I’m still a mere mortal, I couldn’t help but imagine what type of superhero utility belt a Superdad might sport while on the job, since my home improvement projects were obviously on hold until further notice.
Here’s what my stay-at-home parent utility belt would contain:
I’d rename these “everything wipes” if I could. They work for a myriad of other applications, especially when “it” hits the fan, you’ll want these on automatic reorder on Amazon.
Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
I found myself needing a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. So instead of gulping down a 5-Hour Energy, or another cup of coffee, I grabbed a hand-full of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Coffee Beans.
In this particular case, going analog was far better than digital. I always kept a list of basic items we needed, reducing the number of return trips to the store. I found these notepads from Knock Knock to make it a little more fun. My wife was a fan too.
This bottle bag does the trick when you’re away from your fridge, and allows you to keep the baby’s milk and your own beverages cold.
I can’t tell you how many times I left the house without a pacifier (my wife however keeps an exact tally). While my daughter rarely needs her pacifier, my son is almost the complete opposite. No matter your situation, as the Boy Scouts say, “Always be prepared.”
iPad charging cable
More often than not, I found myself stuck on a couch with a baby asleep on me. This created an unhealthy attachment to my iPad, which was my only daily connection to the outside world. Keeping it charged was a must. Plus, you can binge-watch Netflix with a 20-pound living weight on your chest.
Measuring Tape & Screwdrivers
Although living in a 1956 mid-century fixer upper and overestimated amounts of free time led me to be a little ambitious with my home improvement projects, for the few projects I did complete, this little measuring tape really came in handy. I was able to take full advantage of naptime, replacing light switches, repainting heat registers and even hanging new blinds. It felt great to tackle a few little projects around the house without lugging around a tool box.
Now when my co-workers ask about my time off, I share bits of this experience to help show how the day-to-day responsibilities of being a caregiver is a type of work, and not a vacation. That said, being a parent can also be a labor of love and a lot of fun. Since taking parental leave is not always as reenergizing as some might expect, I hope I can help cultivate a greater sense of empathy (not sympathy) between caregivers and their coworkers.
Most of all, Revel’s Parental Leave benefit has created the space for authenticity: When you have the chance to step away from your day job and focus your energy on parenting, you build skills and habits to make you a better team member once you return to the workplace. As I experienced firsthand with my home improvement projects, I may not have been able to tackle the huge projects, but it was the little improvements I made that still had a meaningful impact.
“This approach is one of the ways we can strengthen our ability to deliver human-centered solutions to our clients. They may see their pain point as all or nothing, but it’s our job as consultants to break it down into smaller, achievable projects.”
I’m incredibly grateful to Revel and my team who stepped in and supported me during my leave, allowing me to rejoin the Revel community with a renewed appreciation for a workday spent with fewer bottles, diapers and squeaky toys. We are truly a Revel family.