When we asked you what your ideal maternity leave looks like, you responded. We heard from mothers, moms-to-be, and people who were years away from parenthood. Women who had excellent maternity leaves told us why they worked, and mothers who were shafted told us what they wanted. More than just paid leave, you stressed the importance of flexibility, and that no singular, rigid policy fits all families.
Here are 25 ideal parental leave scenarios from DailyWorth readers:
1. Learn From Other Countries
I'm due with my first in November, and it's insane that this falls under disability pay. I'm not disabled; I’m creating a new citizen from scratch. Leave should be its own category, and it should be a mix of employer and government sponsored.
The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave, so ANYTHING WOULD BE BETTER. In a perfect world, maternity leave would more closely match what you get in Finland or Japan, along the lines of:
- Free universal access to birth classes and care of your choice
- Free government-sponsored layette box, so every kid starts from the same point
- Free midwife and prenatal and postnatal doula care
- Free pre-k
- Fully paid parental leave for up to a year (two years would be great, with a mixed-benefits package so families can work out what's best for them)
This should apply to adoptions, as well as to freelancers and the unemployed. The U.S. should also have paid leave for grief — people who lose a pregnancy or young children don't have protected time off. My friend's twins died in her arms at birth, and her husband was expected to be back at work four days later.
2. Paid Leave and Flex Time
One year paid leave followed by three months of a flexible schedule, whether it's part-time or full-time where three days are in the office and the other two days are work-from-home to ease the transition.
3. Paternity and Maternity Leave Broken Up However We Want
If I could have anything I wanted, it would be six months fully paid for me AND my husband that we could break up however we wanted, starting a month before the birth of our child. Then I'd ramp back up slowly, working from home a few days a week. Once we're both back to work, I'd want our workplaces to provide or at least partially subsidize child care.
4. Childcare Allowance
I want to see:
- 20 weeks of paid maternity leave (four weeks before due date and 16 weeks when baby is born)
- Four weeks of paid paternity leave (one week before due date and three weeks after baby is born)
- An allowance for child care provided by employer ($200 per week)
5. Do It Like the Swedes
Having worked in London for three years, I am quite aware of the generous parental leave policies most advanced countries offer. I would be happy to take 56 weeks of paid leave at 80 percent of my salary as they do in Sweden, but I will be lucky to get 13 weeks.
6. Paid Leave Over the Course of My Child’s Life
I'd like to see a year of paid leave that can be taken as needed over a period of time (a few years). More realistically, I'd like to see six months of paid leave that can be taken over the course of the child's life without question.
I think if I could do it all again, I would take the first six to eight weeks completely off, return part-time for 20 hours a week for a few months, and still have leave banked that I can use to be off with the children. For example, I would have liked to have been able to be off the first month they went to kindergarten. Others may want to have time in high school, or to manage doctors’ appointments for a child with an illness, etc. The point is the flexibility. I would want the policy to fit my needs at the time I had them.
7. Paid Leave Plus Part-Time Work
Fourteen weeks paid and then work part-time (from home one or two days a week, or mornings/afternoons). And six weeks paid paternity leave for my husband (which, luckily, we had, and helped make my maternity leave dreamy!).
8. Bring in a Temp
In a perfect world, from the perspective of someone who has not yet been there, I feel like 16 weeks completely off from work with pay for myself followed with another two to four weeks of part-time work would be ideal. I would also wish for my husband to have at least four weeks completely off from his job as well.
In this perfect scenario, I would envision a temporary replacement for my position so that I would not have to feel any worry, guilt, or concern that my team was having to work harder or more in my absence. This way I feel I could be completely focused on my new role as mother.