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Parenting manga “Things to keep in mind while on maternity leave”

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What's really going on with Gei Maternity Leave? We asked senior fathers.

After working for a design company in Tokyo, he became a freelance illustrator. He is a hard-working father who creates animation, manga, and illustrations, including winning the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival’s International Short Film Showcase Division Excellence in Animation Award.

What is maternity leave really like? We asked some senior fathers.

What is maternity leave really like? We asked some senior fathers.

 Men taking childcare leave is a way for fathers who want to actively raise their children to realize their wishes and share the burden of childcare and household chores with their spouses. Recently, the topic has become increasingly popular in the media and other media outlets. However, according to the results of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s survey on the status of equal employment opportunities for men and women in fiscal 2020, released in March 2020, 95.6% of women took childcare leave, while only 11.8% of men took childcare leave.

 In order to improve the rate of male employees taking maternity leave, it is not only necessary for companies to create systems and environments that make it easier for men to take maternity leave, but it is also important for the men concerned to have a positive attitude toward taking maternity leave. To this end, we asked senior fathers and their partner mothers who have taken childcare leave about how they came to take childcare leave, how their awareness changed as a result of taking childcare leave, and what they learned about making the most of their childcare leave period. In addition, we asked the pre-papas who will become fathers about their thoughts on maternity leave.

She took two months of maternity leave with few precedents.
After maternity leave, they are able to work more efficiently.

 Yusuke Adachi works for Mitsui Fudosan Building Management Co. A company with a history of more than 35 years in business, until Mr. Adachi took childcare leave, the number of male employees taking childcare leave was very few. In recent years, however, the company has made positive efforts to encourage male employees to take childcare leave, such as by including a feature on childcare leave in the company newsletter. We interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Adachi, who work for such a company, about the process of taking childcare leave and how they have changed since taking the leave.

family portrait

Husband, Yusuke.

 The reason I took maternity leave was because my wife decided not to return home to give birth, and I wanted to spend more time with her and reduce the burden on her. I had seen how difficult it was for her during her pregnancy, such as morning sickness, so I wanted to help her as much as possible after the birth. I also thought that we would be able to stand at the starting line together, and by being by her side, we would be able to discuss any anxious situations while raising our child. About four months before I was due to give birth, I confirmed with the human resources department what kind of system was in place for childcare leave, and also informed my supervisor and department of my request to take the leave. When I communicated my request, we were able to have a realistic and positive discussion about how I would take over the job in order to take the leave, and I was able to get their support. We then took over with everyone’s help, including taking inventory and making a list of the duties to be performed during the maternity leave.

 I realized how much of a burden I usually put on my wife by taking care of the housework and childcare during childcare leave, and I have come to express my gratitude to her more than ever before. At work, I have become more conscious of how to spend time with my family and how to be more efficient in the limited time I have. When I took childcare leave, I received comments from senior mothers in the company and mothers of friends saying, “I think this is really helpful! I envy you!” I learned that there are many more people who want their fathers to take childcare leave than I had expected.

 I urge you to ask your partners what they would like to see. Then, if there is a wish for them to obtain it, even if there is no precedent, talk to the company and they may support you as I did. Thinking about it again, I may not be able to spend such a long time with my family until I retire. When I think about it, it was a precious time for my family, and I truly feel glad that I took the maternity leave.

Wife, Shinjun

 I had heard from my seniors at work how hard it was to raise a child, so I was relieved when my husband told me that he was thinking of taking maternity leave. During the childcare leave, he took the initiative in doing household chores such as cooking, laundry, and cleaning. In addition, having someone other than my child to talk to during childcare gave me refreshment and gave me a sense of comfort. Childbirth takes a greater toll on a mother’s body than she can imagine. Therefore, it would be helpful if they could take a more proactive role in housework. I would even ask them to do everything for about a month after the birth (laughs).

Actions based on one-sided assumptions are counterproductive.
Have frequent conversations with your wife, do not make self-serving assumptions, and continue to communicate your intentions to her.

 The company where Tatsuya Inoue works, Soup Stock Tokyo, is actively encouraging male employees to take maternity leave, with the president himself taking it. Tatsuya, who had always enjoyed housework and had a strong interest in childcare, took a one-month childcare leave with the encouragement of her company.

Pictures of fathers and children

Husband, Tatsuya

 After taking maternity leave, I strongly felt that “a husband’s housework and childcare cannot be completed without communicating with his wife. The housework and childcare that I did based on my one-sided assumptions and imagination often spun out of control for both my wife and my children, and in some ways it was actually a burden on them (laughs).

 Even if Dad has researched and learned from the Internet and other sources, it does not necessarily mean that it is the right answer. Moms’ feelings and emotions are very different. First of all, it is important to confirm and respect the knowledge and ideas about childcare and housework of the mother in front of you.

 I was reminded of the need for communication in the workplace after returning to work.

 I did not explain to my coworkers much about the change in my work hours before and after I took parental leave, thinking that they must have understood. Of course, my colleagues did not understand all the changes, so there was a gap in interpretation within the team, which sometimes caused me trouble.

 During this period, I learned that teamwork, both at work and at home, is established by always listening to the other person’s intentions and communicating one’s own opinions.

Wife, Rena

 I had a homebirth and lived at my parents’ house for the first month postpartum, so I asked my husband to take childcare leave starting in the second month postpartum. At that point, I had experienced childcare for one month longer than my husband, so I thought I would be responsible for childcare and have my husband do the housework so that I could have some time to rest my body.

 However, children are cute for husbands as well, so they enjoy interacting with children more than housework. As a result, childcare becomes more important than housework. At first, I thought, “You have to understand,” but after all, he would not understand unless I told him, so I consciously continued to tell him in words (laughs).

 I was able to see a side of my husband that I did not know through raising our child. I felt the depth of his love for me when he came home late at night and helped me put the kids to bed.

Involvement in the local community through childcare
I was able to experience how people help each other.

 Hidetaka Inuzuka, who works for Dai Nippon Printing Co., is raising two children and regrets not taking childcare leave with her first. Therefore, with the birth of my second child, I took approximately seven months of maternity leave, which was unprecedented in the company.

Parent-child photo 1

Husband, Hideki

 Although there were people who took paid or other maternity leave for a week to two months at the most, I was the first to take more than six months. My supervisor and coworkers readily agreed.

 At first, I was afraid that I would lose my “connection with society” by taking time off from work. However, by visiting the local shopping district with my child during my childcare leave, I became acquainted with people of various ages and built a community of regulars. I was able to create an environment where I could follow up and support each other.

 The local community has been a very reassuring relationship even in the current unexpected situation caused by the new coronavirus. I believe that it is because I took maternity leave that I am able to be a part of a local community where people help each other, rather than a community that includes work-related interests.

Wife, Natsuki

Parent-child photo 2

 Having my husband take maternity leave gave me a sense of security and peace of mind. I think it was also good that my husband’s participation in the local community broadened his horizons as a person. I think that many women, due to the pressure of being mothers, feel that they have to do something about it. However, with a partner by your side, you can enjoy raising your child without feeling overwhelmed. I would like to encourage you to take childcare leave and work together to raise your child.

 According to those who have taken childcare leave, it is a good idea to first have a thorough discussion with the couple before deciding what to do. After that, it may be a good idea to communicate your requests to the company and aim for a balanced participation in childcare.

We asked pre-dads. How do you feel about taking maternity leave?

 Next, we asked pre-dads with wives expecting a baby what they thought about taking maternity leave.

Pre-parents who are considering acquiring

There is a tendency for the company as a whole to take it. I want to spend as much time as possible by my wife’s side, participating in housework and childcare.”

Pre-parents who are not thinking about acquiring

I want to work as hard as I can and earn as much money as I can,” he said. However, if my wife asks me to participate, I will do my best at that time.

Pre-papa difficult to acquire.

The company’s small size means that there is no one to take over her duties when she takes maternity leave. In addition, the loss of income due to maternity leave is severe.”

 Pre-parents seem to have various views on taking childcare leave, depending on their position and situation. While the atmosphere in the company where taking childcare leave is a matter of course encourages taking childcare leave, there are still many people in work environments where it is difficult to take childcare leave, even if they wish to do so. In addition, the attitude toward taking childcare leave may depend in part on whether or not the parents are supportive.

 Although maternity leave is not mandatory, society as a whole needs to do more to encourage those who want to take it to do so without hesitation.

At the end.

 The word that came up most frequently in interviews with couples who took childcare leave this time was “communication. Taking maternity leave has created new “communication” at the workplace and in the community.

 In terms of “communication” between husband and wife, it is necessary for the couple to communicate their feelings to each other at each of the three stages: before taking childcare leave, during childcare leave, and when returning to the workplace. Communicating with each other in a positive manner about what you both think and what roles you should take on will lead to enjoyable child-rearing without holding back or being overwhelmed. Of course, this kind of communication is effective even if the father does not take childcare leave.

 Each family has its own style of housework and childcare, and there are many different ways of thinking. There is no one right answer. It is important to discuss what the person in front of you is looking for.