How to Balance Work and Life During Maternity or Paternity Leave
When you become a new parent, no matter how much you read up on it beforehand, your life will still feel like it has just been turned upside down and have no idea what hit you. The first few weeks will perhaps be the most confusing. While we’d like to say it gets easier, the truth is that as soon as you become accustomed to the challenge, your baby will grow a little and the challenges will suddenly change. So, instead, try to relax. Learn to make the most of it, and prepare to find a new work life balance definition (because adjustment would be an understatement in this case). To help you become better equipped to know what to expect, we’ve put together a list of tips on how to balance work and life as a new parent, as well as some legal tips on maternity leave and paternity leave.
How Long Is Maternity Leave?
This may very well be the first question that comes to mind when you think of the period ahead and of your professional life. First of all, let’s distinguish between paid maternity leave and unpaid maternity leave. The law currently ensure anyone who is expecting a baby 12 weeks is entitled to unpaid leave, which may begin even before the baby is actually born (should you require it). Keep in mind, if you go this route, you will have less time to spend at home after the birth since the 12 week limit must stand. In order to be eligible for this unpaid time, you need to have been working for your employer for the past 12 months, and your company must have over 50 employees. Still, even if you aren’t eligible for this unpaid maternity leave, you may be able to work something out with your employer. So, don’t feel shy about discussing it with them.
But what about paid maternity leave (and paternity leave of course)? Men and women have equal rights for parental leave no matter if it’s paid or unpaid family leave. As long you are indeed expecting a baby, you’re covered under law. However, not everyone is entitled to paid family leave in the U.S., and this matter largely depends on what you work out with your company, what the company’s policy is for these cases and so on. In most cases, from the 12 weeks (3 months that you are entitled to), the company pays a part, and the FMLA pays for the remaining time. But, details must be worked out from case to case. Unfortunately, these maternity leave laws don’t yet guarantee paid leave.
How to Balance Work and Life Tips
After the 12 week period is finished and you decide to get back to work, you may want to take it slowly and negotiate a part-time work basis. No matter if you decide to return to work full time or not, you must also make some delicate decisions about child care. Try to answer the following questions for yourself before you decide: does my office have a daycare for employees? What childcare options can I afford? Do I have a suitable daycare close to home or my office? What are the pros and cons of each option?
Here are our main work life balance tips for new parents:
- Try to maintain a healthy amount of leisure time in this balance. Even if your new parent responsibilities may seem overwhelming at times, work life balance statistics indicate that leisure is often neglected by workers to the detriment of their physical and mental health.
- After you deiced how many hours per day you want to work and negotiate this pay package with your company, try to also negotiate flexible hours, so that you can drop off and pick up your child from the nursery in a way which is best for the baby’s needs and your own.
- When you’re at work, give it your best, so you remain a valuable asset to the company. Then, when your program is over, focus entirely on your baby and self-care time, since mixing the two responsibilities can lead to slipping on a dangerous and harmful path of unbalance (and not getting either of them done right).
Well wrap this up with one of our favorite work life balance quotes which is even more pertinent for you new parents:
‘When you’re gone would you rather have your gravestone say, ‘He never missed a meeting’? Or one that said, ‘He was a great father’?’ (Steve Bank, author of ‘The Startup Owner’s Manual’).