As a mother of three and entrepreneur, Paid Family Leave is something I am incredibly passionate about. I remember the feeling I had just 6 months ago, when I returned from maternity leave with Solkaiya – a sense of readiness and hesitance all rolled into one, with a dash of mom guilt sprinkled on top. I felt guilty for going back to work, and I felt guilty for not going back soon enough. I was fortunate to be a part of the 13% that had paid maternity, but I could never convince myself enough that I could actually take it (that is how strong the belief is in our society, it permeates our subconscious, even if we don’t necessarily agree with it!). I did, however, have the luxury of being able to work from home and be close to my baby, which to me, has made all the difference (and I definitely let myself EASE back into work and return full time when I was ready). Being able to breastfeed on demand and be physically close to your newborn is a biological drive that is there for a reason. I am so grateful and lucky I have been able to do both. Having that support has allowed me to be a better team member at work and a better mom at home! Just imagining HAVING to go back into the office full time shortly after having a baby, hurts my heart. For me personally, it would have been a painful process, and I can only imagine what other mothers are feeling when they need to leave their baby for the first time, without feeling any support from the companies they work for.
For some of you moms, you may be lucky to be part of the 13% of the workforce in the USA that is returning after a paid leave through your employers. If you are part of the other 87% of the workforce you are probably returning because you have no other choice. You’re not ready to leave your baby but you have to bring in a paycheck. It is an unfortunate predicament us Americans have put ourselves in and one I strongly disagree with. Being a mother is one of the most rewarding yet challenging jobs on the planet, especially during the first 6 months postpartum. It’s a time when hormones are fluctuating rapidly, sleep is almost non-existent, and it is a huge adjustment period taking place (i.e. you just had another human being enter the world that suddenly consumes all of your time (and body) and leaves almost none for you). Layer this on with the pressure that women may feel with the “need” to return to work immediately after birth and there is no way we are setting up a foundation for health and productivity both in our companies, and for the people that comprise them. Instead of setting up a culture where moms feel like they have to choose work, or their children, or they are forced to return to work in order to support their family, I believe we need to create a culture that supports the working mom in every way possible. A culture that allows her to stay home with her baby without having to worry about putting dinner on the table, and a culture that allows her to return to work after an extended period of time with a flexible return to work policy.
Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs out there—being a working mom adds on a whole other level—so when I co-founded Once Upon a Farm, I knew that I wanted to create a company that supports working parents. That’s why I am so proud of all of the work our team at Once Upon a Farm has done to create a progressive Paid Family Leave plan that makes the transition to parenthood just a bit easier for our employees:
Be sure to check out our CEO, John Foraker’s, blog post about Paid Family Leave on LinkedIn to hear his take on this issue.