Listen, I know that company maternity/paternity leave policies are a hot topic right now and not every business can keep up with the flashy policies out there. There are some companies offering amazing paid family leave options like Netflix (“unlimited leave for new moms and dads—through childbirth or adoption”), American Express (“20 weeks of paid parental leave for part-time and full-time employees”), Ikea (“four months of paid parental leave for hourly and salaried employees—including adoptive and foster parents”) and Etsy (“26 weeks of fully paid leave when they become a parent through birth or adoption, regardless of their gender”) that make everyone in the country jealous.
There are some companies that can offer an employee leave—but it’s unpaid. There are some companies where the employer has to mish-mosh some paid time off with some unpaid time off and basically just “make it work” for their family.
Well, I am here to say this—ALL parents deserve paid family leave.
America, are you listening?
I feel sad when I hear about a mother or father who doesn’t get any paid time off for the arrival of their new baby.
Well, I feel all sorts of feelings, to be honest—anger, frustration, disappointment, and most of all—sadness.
And they usually feel this way, too.
And guess how this makes their partner feel?
Equally angry, frustrated, disappointed, and most of all—sad.
Both parents feel the same, because they are both this child’s parent. Both parents deserve the time with their child to properly welcome her into the family.
Both parents feel sad, most of all, because time spent with a new baby is invaluable. It’s important. It’s wonderful. But this isn’t being validated with the paid time that they deserve.
For both parents. Mom and Dad. Or Mom and Mom. Or Dad and Dad. No matter what your family looks like. And no matter how your child was brought into this world.
Because it’s time you don’t get back.
It’s time that makes a huge difference in this new, fragile, vulnerable babies’ life.
It’s time for you and your partner to figure out new parenthood together.
It’s time to get to know this child you created—who they are, what they like, what they don’t like and what they need from you.
It’s time to learn how to be a parent—how to calm your baby, how to get your baby to sleep and stay asleep, what type of pacifier they like or if they don’t like pacifiers at all, what sound on the sound machine do they like the best, whether they like to be swaddled or not, what their first smile looks like in person, how many diapers they go through a day...
It’s time to gain confidence as a mother or father—without feeling rushed.
It’s time to feel overwhelmed—in the privacy of your own home, in your space, with your partner.
It’s time for you to enjoy this new chapter of your life—without all the distractions and stress work can bring, and without the panic and anxiety of not having any money coming into your account.
It’s time for you to put work aside for a couple of months—and focus on your family. The biggest and best project you’ll ever work on.
It’s time for our country to recognize that raising great people—the next generation of leaders—starts from Day 1. This time is crucial for both parents and children.
Most families don’t have two parents working at one of these progressive companies that’s doling out months and months of paid leave. So they make do with what they do get. They make the best of it. They piece things together and figure it out. That’s what parents do—we make it work.
When a parent, or both parents, don’t get paid leave it’s scary and panicky. It’s not easy. Let’s face it—most parts of parenthood are not easy. But dang, they are so worth it.
So talk about it—keep the conversation going. Lobby for better parental leave policies. Don’t be afraid to speak out and have your voice heard.
But most of all—don’t feel guilty for wanting this precious time with your brand new baby. And don’t feel selfish for wanting to still get paid during this time.
My bet is that you’re a great employee and so is your partner. Your company’s are lucky to have you.
And so is your baby.
So America and employers—can you let us have this special, (very) short (in the grand scheme of things) period of time with them...please?