3 min read

Off to Parental Leave

This Monday will be different.

Instead of waking up to the pile of Slack messages and emails from the weekend, and calendar full of late night US calls ahead, I plan to hang out with baby Stig and the rest of my family.

I am taking a paternity leave and stepping away from my CPO role at Topia until the end of the year. I will stop the day job, but will keep the minimal load of my board seats.

For the rest of the summer I hope this looks like a nice family vacation together.

And from September, when the older kids head back to school and Ede takes on some new professional challenges, I expect this to be a new demanding role for me and the then-6-month-old gentleman figuring out life together.

When our first 3 kids arrived, I’ve taken a few weeks off here and there, but never for such extended periods. Both at Skype and at Teleport, new babies coincided with new roles at new companies… and for many professional fathers the latter tend to dominate. Which put a disproportionate burden on Ede to keep the fort at home, which I am extremely grateful for.

Coming fresh out from a big Topia One platform launch, and having a solid team in place to lean on, I have the luxury to finally step aside for the right priorities.

At Topia we have a global policy that any parent can get a month of fully paid parental leave. And in Estonia, parents can use up to 18 months of government paid (up to a cap) leave. Yet, traditionally and overwhelmingly this time ends up being the “mother’s vacation”.

First, there is the up to two weeks meant specifically for fresh fathers. When I look at Estonian statistics, the number of fathers who make use of that has grown to 50% (up 5X from 2007) of men, but on average we do it for 9.5 days per child (up only 3X in the same period).

But if you look at the equal opportunity 18-month parental leave, the difference is stark: out of the 44752 parents on leave in 2018, only 1325 or mere 3% were male.

Well, in the very beginning of a child’s life there are some good biological needs that only moms can cover. But I do believe the role of parenting should be more balanced. There are pay gaps, cultural norms, personal priorities, certain egoism and other aspects to conquer — but in no universe should these lead to a 97:03 score between parents.

75% of my offspring are boys. Maybe the example of this year will help to tilt their choices in the future too.

Let’s go.

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