Today is National Working Parents’ Day! It is a day to honor parents who work to provide for their families. I have been lucky enough to stay home with my kids since I became a mother, but as I prepared for this post, the challenges of working parents were so evident.
At first, I imagined doing a post on the current legislation supporting working parents, especially new parents. Maternity and paternity leave came to mind. I didn’t want to compare our parental leave mandates in the U.S. to other nations. To me, that’s like comparing my family to yours – we are us and you are you. We all have different needs and ways to thriving. But, I was interested in the research done on what’s the ideal length of parental leave in terms of mother and baby health. What’s the sweet spot for optimal family happiness and health? I bet you in the end, this sweet spot is good for business, too!
It seems the answer is 6-12 months! At this point, moms and babies are ready. Mothers who have this length of leave or close to it experience less Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, improved emotional health, higher breastfeeding success, and relational stability with their partners. Babies have reduced rates of SIDS and increased chance of well-baby care with a pediatrician. Without the early distraction of work, parents also report being able to exercise high sensitivity and responsiveness to their infants (see here and here). These benefits extend for decades. And it all seems pretty intuitive, right?
It’s too bad, then, that the current federal mandate is 6 weeks of unpaid leave. The general thought seems to be that improving this issue would be good for businesses, too. Paid leaves that are too long or too short discourage women from returning to work. When companies provide sufficient time off, they boost employee morale and retention and positively impact business productivity. “This is really what economists call a human capital investment. You invest in this, you will end up picking up the benefits of this policy even years later,” says Mauricio Avendano, associate professor of social science, health, and medicine at King’s College, London.
It’s clear that reaching the sweet spot of parental leave duration is an unfortunate rarity for us. Let’s hope this will improve and in the meantime: Kudos, serious kudos, to you working parents! The burdens you bear are immense. The fact that you do the impossible on a daily basis for the good of your family is incredible. There’s a reason you have a national day all your own.
How does Marabou support women?
We live in culture where “bouncing back” is more valued than proper rest. As admirable as it may be for a sports star to get back on the field, the same rules don’t apply to postpartum recovery. The traditional resting period has been stolen from women through pressure to get back to their job or simply through lack of presence.
Grandmas, sisters and best friends who otherwise would have been there to help a woman transition into motherhood often live too far away to be of any help. Household chores and caring for older children inevitably fall on the mom. But she just delivered a new life! She needs rest.
Marabou Services is a unique gift registry which provides services instead of stuff. Most mom’s get too many onesies, too many baby blankets and not enough helping hands. Break out of a destructive cultural norm and start a Marabou registry today.
With a Marabou registry you can sing up for any service which will benefit you or someone you know during the postpartum recovery period.
Postpartum doulas for a first time mom
House cleanings for moms of multiples
Childcare for moms with older children!
Once your registry is created, add it to any other registry or post it to your Facebook and ask friends and family contribute to your postpartum service, rather than buying you more stuff.