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Paid leave is good for babies, women, families, businesses and America. Here’s why

In a perfect better world, new American parents would be able to take paid parental leave to recover from childbirth, bond with their babies and find their footing as a new family.


Their government would support them, seeing those early months of parent-baby bonding as an investment in our collective future: theirs as a family, and ours as a country.

Their employers would back them in their decisions, understanding that supporting new moms during this transition is a crucial part of long-term employee satisfaction and retention of female talent.

The reality is far different.

Today in the United States, only 12% of private-sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, and nearly 25% of employed mothers return to work within two weeks of childbirth. This stands in stark contrast to the rest of the world; the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without paid maternity leave.

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No woman should have to face new motherhood with such an appalling lack of support.

Future mothers and fathers, currently pregnant women and soon-to-be dads, new moms and dads, seasoned parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends and coworkers: We all need to speak up. Our voices can effect change for the next generation of working parents. Here’s how to get informed and fight for paid leave.

Understand the necessity.

The United States is due for upgraded policies and practices that match today’s modern, diverse workforce. The Family and Medical Leave Act is a quarter of a century old. There’s a slew of global research that demonstrates just how important paid parental leave is. Offering and supporting paid parental leave policies (note: not just maternity leave) has a domino effect that improves labor force participation rates for women, the gender pay gap, the long-term health of families, the economy and companies’ success.

Educate others.

If you feel your company’s policy is below par, build a business case for improving the policy by sharing this research with your manager or your company’s human resources department. If you’re interviewing for a new job, ask what policies and practices the organization has in place to retain talent, ensure equal pay for equal work, and help employees meet the demands of work and family. Start conversations with your colleagues and your professional network. And let your voice be heard by signing petitions and reaching out to your congressional representatives. Awareness is the first step toward change.

Know the stats.

Here’s a sampling of 20 research findings that reveal the long-term positive impact of paid parental leave for women, families, babies, the economy and companies.

1. In a survey of 253 employers affected by California’s paid family leave initiative, more than 90% reported either positive or no noticeable effect on profitability, turnover and morale. (Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2011)

2. In that same study, 99% of employers reported that paid family leave produced an increase in employee morale, and 87% of employers reported that paid family leave had not caused costs to increase. (Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2011)

3. When Google increased paid maternity leave, the rate at which new mothers quit dropped by 50%. (Source: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, 2007)

4. Patagonia reported that paid family leave and family-affirming policies helped the company triple its profits. (Source: Business Insider, 2016)

5. Aetna’s retention rate rose from 77% to 88% when it initiated a six-month maternity leave with flexible return to work possibilities, saving $1 million a year. (Source: Aetna)

6. Immediately after Fortune 500 companies announced new work-life balance policies, their stock prices rose an average of 0.36%, indicating that investors view these policies as profitable investments. (Source: Arthur, 2003)

7. Work-life balance policies are linked to business competitiveness, even after controlling for differences across companies. (Source: Bloom, Liang, Roberts, & Ying, 2013)

8. Two-thirds of women who take 12 or more weeks of leave are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. (Source: Fairygodboss 2016)

9. 80% of Americans favor requiring all employers to offer paid leave to parents of new children and employees caring for sick family members. (Source: The New York Times/CBS News Poll, 2015)

10. Today, 70% of mothers work. More than 40% of mothers are the primary breadwinners for their families, earning 50% or more of their family’s income. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015)

11. If women’s workforce participation had not increased since 1970, median family income would be $13,000 less today and our overall economy would be $2 trillion smaller. (Source: Council of Economic Advisers, 2014)

12. Closing the male-female employment gap would raise GDP by 9%. (Source: Council of Economic Advisers, 2014)

13. Companies with 30% or more female leaders had net profit margins up to 6% higher than companies with no women in the top ranks. (Source: Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY, 2016)

14. The most reputable companies have more women in the C-suite. (Source: Weber Shandwick, the Fortune 500 and the World’s Most Admired Companies, 2016)

15. Countries with generous paternity leave have more women on those countries’ corporate boards. (Source: Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY, 2016)

16. Parental leave policies are associated with 3 to 4% higher employment to population ratios, as well as decreased unemployment. (Source: The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1998)

17. Women who use paid leave are 93% more likely to be working 9 to 12 months after a child’s birth vs. those who don’t take any leave. (Source: Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, 2012)

18. Women who take paid leave are 39% less likely to receive public assistance in the year after the birth of a child. (Source: Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, 2012)

19. Women are more likely to breastfeed when they take maternity leave, and longer leave increases both the likelihood and duration of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of health problems like diarrheal disease, respiratory illnesses, asthma, acute ear infection, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome. (Sources: Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2011; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011)

20. A more generous maternity leave during the birth of a first child is associated with reduced depression symptoms in late life. (Source: Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, 2015)

The more we all talk about the benefits of parental leave, the more the masses will embrace this cultural change. Together we can build a positive legacy as the generation that shifted American working culture to be more family-friendly and balanced for all.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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