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Paid parental leave – parents want it, babies need it, but policy makers tell us that businesses can’t afford it.


The importance of maternity and paternity leave to families has been proven time and again. When mothers are able to take maternity leave, they are more likely to breastfeed and do so for longer and are less likely to be depressed. Fathers who take paternity leave are also more likely to be engaged parents, not only during the initial weeks but down the road as well.

But is there a reason for businesses to support paid leave?

With every other developed country except the United States guaranteeing workers paid leave, the feasibility of paid leave has been well-tested across the world. But nevertheless, there still remains an underlying fear that it’ll somehow be bad for businesses in this country.

The good news, however, is that paid parental leave isn’t bad for business. In fact, it can actually help the bottom line. Although the U.S. doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave, some states, like California, do. A peek into California’s paid leave system can help us see how such a policy would impact both families and businesses, and researchers for years have done just that to help us answer some questions the business community might have about paid leave.

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Will workers who take paid leave return to work?

Ah, the good life. No deadlines to meet. No rushing out the door to make a meeting on time. Nothing but baby-snuggles and watching the Today show on the couch. Maybe once a woman gets a taste of staying at home, she’ll decide that’s where she wants to remain and leave the workforce permanently, after her employer just shelled out thousands of dollars while she was on leave.

It turns out, however, paid leave actually makes employees more likely to come back to work after having a new child. For California employees in lower paying jobs, 83% returned to work after receiving paid leave, compared to 74% of those who didn’t take paid family leave. Employees might be more likely to be loyal to a company that was loyal to them.

Will paid leave be too costly for employers?

Paying employees for work they are not actually doing is typically not a good business decision. But when it comes to paid leave, it can be.

In California, nine out of 10 employers said that providing paid leave either had either a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on their company’s profitability and performance. Providing new parents with time to care for their child simply wasn’t the financial disaster businesses worried it would be.

The reason why has to do with turnover. If an employee quits, hiring a replacement can be extremely costly for an employer – roughly one-fifth of a worker’s annual salary. The cost of paid leave is small in comparison to recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee. Because employees who use paid leave are less likely to quit, the company saves in the long run.

But what about small businesses?

Small businesses care about their employees, and also want to see them benefit from paid parental leave. In California, small businesses were actually less likely than larger companies to report any negative effects from paid family leave. A majority of small businesses surveyed by the Small Business Majority found that most support paid leave, funded either by employee contributions or employee and employer contributions, and most already offer some sort of family leave.

For some smaller enterprises, however, providing paid leave would be a true stretch. But a government-administered paid leave program could actually help alleviate some of this burden and help small businesses compete with larger ones that are able to offer generous benefit packages out-of-pocket.

Will people take advantage of it?

We all know how easy it would be to stuff a pillow under your blouse and then tell your employer you need three months off to care for a “baby” while secretly sailing the seven seas.

Prior to California’s implementation of paid family leave, employers had significant concerns about people taking advantage of the program. But 91% of employers surveyed said they did not know of any instances where their employees abused the state leave program.

Would paid family leave put a strain on the economy?

Paid family leave can actually help stimulate economic growth. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, if U.S. women participated in the labor force at the same rate they do in Canada or Germany (countries with generous paid leave policies), there would be 5.5 million more women in the labor force. These women alone could grow the GDP by 3.5 percent, which would result in $500 billion of additional economic activity. 

If a lawmaker proposed a policy that cost $500 billion, kept women out of the work force, and meant families spent less time together, it wouldn’t get a single vote. But our status quo is hurting the economy just as much. A lack of paid family leave is putting undue strains on families, and draining our GDP.

As a country that believes deeply in the importance of family and the spirit of entrepreneurship, policies that help parents bond with and care for their children while helping a business’s bottom line should be at the top of our priority list. Financial security is critical when you are a parent of a young child, and paid leave helps provide that while also ensuring stability for employers.

With states like California acting as a test case, we can see that paid leave reduces employee turnover, and can help a business’s bottom line. Paid family leave may be parent and baby tested, but it’s business approved.

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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We teach our children to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs, brush their teeth to prevent cavities, and we take care to make sure they get they get the sleep that is critical for healthy child development. But we also know that not every child in America can wash their hands, brush their teeth, or sleep without bright lights shining down on them. The children inside Border Patrol detention facilities don't have access to things like hygiene supplies or beds, and it is keeping many American mothers up at night.

As the Washington Post reports, lawyers for the U.S. government argue that it should not be required to provide detained migrant children with toothbrushes, soap, showers or conditions conducive to sleep. This is concerning many Americans, especially after a report from The Associated Press painted a bleak picture of unsanitary conditions for children detained at Border Patrol facilities, some with no parent to care for them.

For many, this isn't about politics, but about compassion. Last week Judge A. Wallace Tashima stated that it is "within everybody's common understanding that if you don't have a toothbrush, you don't have soap, you don't have a blanket, those are not safe and sanitary [conditions]," and many parents around the country agree.

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The children who are reportedly getting sick from unsanitary conditions need voices like Tashima's, but you don't have to be a judge to speak for them.

Here are 5 powerful ways to help these kids:

1. Call your representatives

You can follow Tashima's lead and let your reps know that your definition of "safe and sanitary" includes access to hygiene items and sleep.

If you don't know what number to call, you can either call the US Capitol switchboard or punch your info into callmycongress.com and get the direct phone numbers.

Just tell the congressional staffer who picks up the phone that you want to see soap, toothbrushes and beds for detained children right now.

Consider saving those direct numbers in your phone so that you can follow up with more calls in the future.

2. Use digital tools and data

You're probably reading this on your phone right now, so obviously calling your rep isn't the only way to get their attention. We all have powerful computers in our palms these days, and you can slide into your reps DMs or amplify this issue by tagging them in a tweet or Facebook post.

The internet hasn't just given us the ability to connect with our politicians, it has given us unprecedented access to information and science, and in this case, the science is pretty simple: Handwashing is "a win for everyone", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Study after study after study backs the CDC up. Handwashing can keep kids alive by preventing everything from diarrhea to the flu.

The scientists at the CDC say that "washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them.

So it is vital for these kids to have access to hygiene and sanitation as influenza is common in the detention centers.

The same challenges that make it hard to control communicable disease transmission and outbreaks in jails and prisons—high turnover rates of staff and the detained, a population vulnerable to illness—put these children at risk, and while the New York Times reports some guards at the detention facilities have taken to wearing paper masks to keep them from catching what the kids have, it is totally possible that someone who works around these detained kids will get sick, and that could put a population outside of the facility at risk.

Giving detained people access to sanitation should be a public health priority.

3. Keep talking about this + encourage others to make their own calls

This conversation comes nearly a year after ProPublica released audio reportedly recorded inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility and mothers across America cried listening to the sounds of those children crying.

Now, the conversation has shifted to sanitation, but it's important to remember that soap, toothbrushes and showers aren't all these kids are missing—they're missing their families, too. Children continue to be separated from their families, something that will impact them for the rest of their lives, whether those lives happen in America or elsewhere.

There are a lot of debates going on about how to solve this crisis, but one thing that many groups, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree on is that these facilities were not designed to house kids.

Something's got to change, and the more people that are calling their reps, the better.

Tell your friends that you're talking to your representatives about this and ask them to call, too. A lot of people have never called a politician's office before, so let those in your circle know about how the ACLU will route their call and pass on the short script for those who get flustered on the phone.

4. Donate to organizations that will help migrant families


There are many organizations working to get and keep children out of detention centers so that they will not have to live in the kinds of conditions being reported. All of the following organizations are trying to help children caught up in this crisis.

American Immigration Council: This organization gets on the ground at detention centers helping families, documenting conditions of detention and bringing lawsuits to challenge them.

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: Provides "emergency legal aid to refugee families".

Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services: Provides "free and low cost immigration services".

Families Belong Together: Is a group effort that "includes nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families.

Justice for Our Neighbors: Provides low-income families with "affordable, high quality immigration legal services".

Kids In Need of Defense: According to its website, KIND "partners with major law firms, corporations, law schools, and bar associations to create a nationwide pro bono network to represent unaccompanied children through their immigration proceedings."

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: States it is "dedicated to serving the legal needs of low-income immigrants, including refugees, victims of crime, and families seeking reunification."

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: The faith-based organization "works with refugees, children, and migrants to ensure they are protected and welcomed into local communities throughout the United States."

South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR): A joint project of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, ProBAR "is a national effort to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas by the United States government. "

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES): A non-profit that aims to reunite families and help kids feel safe, this Texas-based nonprofit aims to "directly fund the bond necessary to get parents out of detention and reunited with their children while awaiting court proceedings" and "ensure legal representation for EVERY child in Texas' immigration courts."

The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights: Provides independent Child Advocates to stand up for unaccompanied immigrant children and "champion the child's best interests".

5. Teach our children kindness and compassion 

Our generation couldn't stop this from happening to these children, but perhaps our children will be able to protect the children that come after them.

By instilling empathy, compassion and kindness in the next generation we are planting the seeds for a kinder world, and those seeds desperately need to be planted.

Caring for these children is not a partisan issue, it's an issue many parents all over the political spectrum are grappling with. Many have differing opinions about how to resolve the issues at the root of this problem, but many parents can agree that if their child was in this position they would want them to be shown some kindness.

As much as many parents would love to scoop these children up, draw them a bubble bath and find them a safe, warm place to sleep, we can't. But we can do those things for our own children, and in doing so we will teach them about love and kindness.

And hopefully, future generations will not be having the conversations.

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News

[Editor's Note: This is the beginning of a new weekly series where we'll round up our favorite "Good News" stories that went viral. Enjoy!]

It's Friday, mama! We made it! There has been a ton of heavy news to digest this week, but there have also been some amazingly good news stories to come out of the last seven days.

If you need a little positivity to carry you into the weekend, check out the headlines that made us smile this week.

This mama got her rainbow baby after 13 pregnancy losses 🌈

British mama Laura Worsley is living her dream with her baby daughter Ivy after losing a heartbreaking 13 pregnancies, People reports. She had her first miscarriage in 2008, and sadly, many more followed. "Eleven of Laura Worsley's pregnancies ended in the first trimester but she also lost two boys at 17 and 20 weeks," BBC News reports.

Eventually, Laura learned she was suffering from Antiphospholipid syndrome, a condition that was making it impossible for her to carry a baby. She also had Chronic Histiocytic Intervillositis happening in her placenta, which makes was causing her placenta to die in places, according to Worsley.

Finally, doctors got her on a medication to improve the lining of her uterus, and Worsley and her husband conceived baby Ivy. "I thought if there's that one bit of hope, I had to try again," Laura told BBC News. "I spoke to Dave about it and he felt the same. I told myself, 'this is the last time I'm doing this.'"

On their 14th attempt (with the help of steroids and medications to suppress Worsley's immune system and allow the pregnancy to progress) Ivy came into the world.

"Even now, nine months on, I can't believe she's actually mine," Worsley told BBC News.

That adorable dad + baby from the viral video booked a Denny's commercial 

Remember that dad and the adorable babbling baby in the viral video we featured on our Facebook page earlier this month? Well, now they've book a Denny's commercial! (Talk about a quick turn around!)

That original viral video surpassed 2 million views within 48 hours of being posted, so it's no wonder the marketing team at Denny's thought, We've gotta get this guy!

The cuteness is too much and the new commercial shows the dad, comedian DJ Pryor, and his 19-month-old (ADORABLE) son Kingston having a chat in a booth at Denny's over breakfast food.

We love it and we love that it is part of a wider trend of companies showing dads in caring roles in advertising.

One woman's color-coded grandkids are going viral 

This is too cute! Mom Chrissy Roussel posted this photo of her kids and their cousins a couple of years ago (there's been a couple of additions since!) to show all the grandkids her parents have.

"The photo was my sister's idea," Chrissy, who has three brothers and two sisters, told POPSUGAR. "Having a big family means lots of noise, laughter, and, most importantly, love. Between the 17 cousins, there's always someone to play with and have fun with. They have a ball together. I loved having a big family growing up, and I'm so happy that my kids have the same experience."

In a recent Facebook update this week, Rossel reacted to the continued vitality of her colorful photo.

"I have to say we had NO IDEA this picture would be shared so much and resonate with so many people. We just thought it would be a fun pic to take of all the cousins while we were at the beach. My sister Maryellen suggested the shirts, and my amazingly talented SIL Katie (Annabelle Rose Photography) took the pics," Roussel wrote in on her Facebook page.

Parents are loving these potentially life-saving seat-belt straps! 

Australian mom Natalie Bell is going super viral for her seat belt steps for special needs kids. She runs Personalised By Nat, a company where she creates personalized stuff and came up with the idea to make seat belt straps that can inform first responders of a child's issues in the event of an accident.

"I always wonder what would happen if I was in a car accident with my daughter in the car and I was unable to let the doctors know that my daughter could not have a MRI due to having a cochlear implant, now I don't need to worry about that with these seat belt covers," she wrote.

"These can be made for any special needs that the medical team will need to know if you are unable to tell them."

As Yahoo News reports, overnight the post went viral and parents were talking about what a great idea it is.

"My husband is part of Fire and Rescue and said that this is a brilliant idea," one comment wrote.

"Such a valuable piece that provides a lot of information clearly so that [responders] involved can approach situations with knowledge and care," said another.

The Rock can't build a doll house 😂

We love The Rock's dad moments. He consistently cracks us up, and this week he had an epic dad problem. His little daughter, Jazzy, (seriously, look at this kiddo, she's too cute) got a dollhouse which is "assembly required" and The Rock does not have the toy assembling skills to meet that requirement.

"My 'On my way out the door to get my morning workout in before work and my 3yr old Jazzy says Daddy can you put together this Barbie house please' look," The Rock captioned the above photo.

We totally get you, Dwayne. All those little plastic parts can be a challenge, even for someone who swings from skyscrapers. 😂

Apparently, Jazzy's mom, Lauren Hashian, is the chief dollhouse builder in that household.

Young boys are wearing Women’s National Team jerseys, proving that hero athletes can be any gender 💪

Okay, so the Women's National Soccer team is killin' it, but as the Washington Post reports, the women's team is still not paid equal to the mens' team (even though they are winning more and attracting more fans).

But, as Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens writes, young male soccer fans clearly understand how awesome the women's team is because boys are starting to rock women's team jerseys in schools!

While young girls often walk around in jerseys with male athletes names on the back, it's new to see boys wearing the names of women athletes on such a large scale.

This is a big deal for girls and boys, and it's awesome.

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News

It's a big fear for many people when they're pregnant: Will my non-mom friends still want to hang when I become a parent? Will we have anything in common anymore? Will they still call, text or visit me?

Clearly, Amy Schumer is navigating those concerns right now while adjusting to her new #momlife, because her friend Jennifer Lawrence (who doesn't have kids) is struggling with the transition, too.

Schumer shared the evidence in her Instagram Stories, proving JLaw has a sense of humor about the whole thing 

It looks like Lawrence got confused about what was happening on The Handmaid's Tale and needed Schumer's help ASAP, as apparently not understanding a TV plot constitutes "an emergency" in their friendship. (We totally understand).

"Amy!!! What did she do on season 1 to deserve being in the gallows on season 2? I can't remember where I left off. Are you asleep bc of the baby??? Are you asleep before 11? Is this bc of the baby? Don't make me resent the baby."

When Schumer didn't text back instantly, Lawrence took it to a whole other level.

She continues: "Wow, Ur really asleep before 11. I'll be damned."

"Everybody keeping their cool about me having a baby," Schumer captioned a screenshot of the text exchange.

The thing is, people do freak out a big when someone close to them has a baby. It happens, but it doesn't have to ruin a friendship (although maybe chill on the late night texts).

People do change, but relationships can evolve, too.

When people have babies pretty much everything in their life shifts. Priorities, free time, and even what you like to do for fun changes (as Schumer noted on Instagram she actually has a hard time watching The Handmaid's Tale now that she's a mom due to the heavy content—and that happens to a lot of parents as Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety mentions in the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Sponsored by Prudential).

But that doesn't mean that someone who doesn't have a baby and someone who does don't have anything in common anymore.

Parents are still people, and we are still the people we were before we had kids. Friendships can endure, and it is beautiful when they do.

According to therapist Rachel Bowers, some moms feel most connected to their pre-mom selves then hang with friends who aren't parents. It's good for us!

Friendships can survive and thrive after motherhood 

Bowers says many moms preemptively assume their friends without kids won't want to chill anymore but that isn't always true. "They may be worried about inviting you places and making you feel disappointed when you can't come or even not wanting to 'bother' you since you have a new baby," says Bowers, but as mom of three Colleen Temple wrote for Motherly, moms often crave those invites from child-free friends and having to say no is better than not getting the invite at all.

It's a complicated situation, but Bowers suggests open communication can make a huge difference. If you're the Amy Schumer, tell your JLaw that you appreciate the text, and if you're not getting them, tell her that her friendship is still important to you even though you have a baby now. And if it doesn't work out, know that that doesn't mean you're not worthy of friendship/

"It's important to remember that some friendships just won't make the transition, and that is okay," says Bowers.

Sometimes parenthood makes us drift apart from some people, but if you prioritize relationships that are important to you it totally doesn't have to. Having some girls time away from the baby is good for mamas, so Schumer should go have a movie night with JLaw (but maybe watch something that hurts a mama heart less than The Handmaid's Tale?.)

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News

She's goop's Chief Content Officer and co-hosts the goop podcast with Gwenyth Paltrow. Elise Loehnen has been a driving force in changing the cultural conversation about women's health and wellness through a female-founded company that is 80% women.

She's also a mother of two, and in the second episode of the second season of The Motherly Podcast, Sponsored by Prudential, Loehnen tells Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety that even though paid family leave is desperately needed in America, it isn't a silver bullet to fix the problems parents are facing today. To Loehnen, the solution to helping women balance work, motherhood and their health isn't taking them out of the workforce for extended periods of time, but rather creating a culture that allows people to be employees and parents at the same time.

"I just want ongoing flexibility and the ability to manage my own time and work autonomously and know that I'm gonna be able to deliver as best as I can against all of the various demands. But I can only really do that when I feel like I have power and autonomy in my own life," she explains.

Changing the way the workplace sees mothers 

As Loehnen tells it, part of the culture at goop is to model a way that women can be mothers and leaders. She is doing that by admitting that the balance shifts daily in a parent's life, and sometimes it's not perfect.

"You're never gonna show up for work every day, because there are gonna be times when you're gonna need to be home with your sick child. And likewise, you're not gonna be at every school event."

For many parents, priorities shift on a daily basis. No one can be in two places at once, but Loehnen suggests that if employers want to hire people who know how to multitask and maximize their efficiency, moms make for good hires. "The amount that I can accomplish in 20 minutes stuns me," she tells Tenety.

Changing the way medical professionals see mothers 

Loehnen is changing the way mothers are seen at work, but she wants those who work with mothers to change the way they see us, too.

"I think we need to do a much better job of supporting women physically after childbirth," she says, explaining that "other countries leave us in the dust in terms of other women rebuilding their pelvic floor health [and] making sure their nutrients are back in order."

We know that many new moms in America are putting their own health last, and often feel invisible, even at the doctor's office. This leads to stress, burnout and all kinds of poor outcomes for moms, babies and families.

"You have to go in and complain and complain and complain and mothers don't have time to do that, so I think we need a reclaim and rebuild of health for women after having babies," Loehnen explains.

Loehnen is changing the way this country sees mothers and how we see ourselves, and she's proving that taking a holistic view and seeing us as people, not reducing us to our job titles or single body parts is vital. It's time to look at mothers as a whole because we have so much to contribute.

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To hear more about Reshma Saujani and being brave but not perfect, listen to The Motherly Podcast, sponsored by Prudential, for the full interview.

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