My firstborn arrived on this Earth in the summer of 2020 at the peak of the first wave of the Covid19 pandemic. At the time, working as a contractor with almost zero company benefits, I took a one-month unpaid leave that I had to negotiate very thoroughly in order to access parental leave rights from my own country. This was tough on me emotionally and created a lot of uncertainty and doubt. Despite this, wanting to have 2 kids close in age to each other, we ended up getting pregnant again last year.
I recently welcomed my second child, and this time parental leave is going to be very different. I'm ironing out the details, but I have been given 4 months of parental leave. I don't think I have ever felt grateful for an employer before.🤩
The first time I asked about parental leave and they told me they'd offer up to 16 weeks of parental leave, I asked again. Not out of distrust, but I assumed they were answering for maternal leave. Nope, Remote offers the same amount of time for moms and dads, and I couldn't be happier.
Having this extra time means I'm going to be present for my family during the first few (hard) months. It means extra bonding with my firstborn to avoid the newborn becoming the center of attention. And ultimately, it means having time to rest and focus on my parenting responsibilities without having to juggle those with work.
My manager and I had a great talk where we discussed why companies should or should not offer this much parental leave time, and I wanted to share something he told me about this, and I paraphrase:
It's kind of dumb for companies to hand out just a 1-2 months and then pretend that you'll come back and just start being productive. Everyone who has kids knows that the first few months are the worst, and you come back exhausted for being sleep deprived for so long. No matter how many months they give you, companies never really expect you to come back 100%.
I wish someone told me this before I had my firstborn. Mainly because the time I spent after coming back from my unpaid leave was riddled with guilt from not being able to get back to my usual pace of work, but also uncertainty and fear that my performance difference after my parental leave would lead to termination.
Regardless of my past experience, at Remote I feel safe and included. People are kind and compassionate and they understand that life happens sometimes and paid time off is good for the company because it's good for you. Ever since I broke the news to my team at first and then ultimately to the entire company on Slack, I was met with encouragement, validation, and celebration. There was no glimpse of feeling how inconvenient that was going to be, no passive-aggressive comments, just an unwavering barrage of positivity.
Parenting is already filled with uncertainty. Many things can happen and most of the time I'm just rooting for things to just work out. Having an employer support me in this way is a huge weight off my shoulders.
I will honestly miss my team dearly while I'm on leave, but I know that this time will pass quickly. In my heart I'm sure that if every company / government did this to support parents, the world would be a better place.
Should I ever start a company and employ other people, I'll be glad to make them feel how I am feeling now. ❤️