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Planning a Successful Maternity or Paternity Leave

Planning for maternity or paternity leave can be daunting, especially if both you and your spouse have jobs with long hours. Combine that with preparing for having a new baby in the house – and that leaves you and your partner with a lot to think about and plan for. Relax, mommies and daddies to-be, we can help you adequately prepare or at least figure out the right questions to ask along the way.

best ways to prepare for maternity leave

Planning for maternity or paternity leave can be daunting, especially if both you and your spouse have jobs with long hours. Combine that with preparing for having a new baby in the house – and that leaves a lot to think about and plan for.

Relax, mommies and daddies to-be, we can help you adequately prepare or at least figure out the right questions to ask along the way:

First, Understand Your Work Benefits

The first step in planning for maternity/paternity leave is to clearly understand your work rights and benefits. So dig up that dusty employee handbook or at least pull it from your email archive. Things to check for:

  • Type of leave available for time away from work (combining sick leave, vacation, personal days, etc.)
  • Company policies regarding pregnancy rights and maternity or paternity leave
  • Any medical benefits during leave

Talk to your boss or HR manager to clarify any questions you might have in full detail. FYI – the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees (men and women) of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks after the birth of a child. Either way, reach out to your employer and explore all your options and benefits.

This is also the time to discuss if you plan to return to work. New parents may make a hasty decision to quit their jobs, only to discover that stay-at-home parenting is not for them. Ask the right questions to evaluate:

  • Does your employer have a flexible work policy?
  • Is working from home an option?
  • Is a gradual return, working fewer days or hours, possible?

Planning For Time Out of the Office

To ease any stress ahead of your due date, try to plan your doctor’s visits in advance (or if possible, at a regular time – say Thursdays) and be open with your employer about your schedule. Sort out a plan for when you’ll begin your maternity or paternity leave, and if you’ll be working on a part-time schedule for any of it. Since there may be unexpected reasons to extend your leave, be sure you start saving those vacation days immediately.

Part of planning ahead also means informing clients and colleagues that you plan to take leave and for how long. For some people, writing a maternity/paternity leave letter to alert everyone at once works best. For others, in-person discussions are more appropriate. Be clear with your colleagues about if and when you want to be contacted while you’re out and the preferred method of communication.

Adapting to New Roles

Adjusting to life at home is a pivotal part of maternity and paternity leave. To ensure that each parent has equal responsibilities, work with your spouse to find out the best way to care for your new baby. For example, while breastfeeding will naturally be a task for mom, dad can offer a clean bib and to burp the baby afterward. This way, feeding time becomes a joint activity. Getting your baby ready for bath time is another activity that parents can do together, where one parent prepares the bath while the other gets the baby ready.

Beyond catering to your baby’s every need, moms and dads shouldn’t ignore their personal time. Getting out of the house for some “me” time is equally important. New parents may feel guilty about leaving the house for even a few minutes without their baby, but that’s what babysitters and nearby relatives are for. Ease yourself into the outside world if needed. Make friends with your neighbors, especially if they have kids of their own. Or, take a stroll to the local public library and pick up a book for yourself.

Returning to Work

Should you choose to go back to work after maternity leave, selecting the ideal child care or nanny is imperative. From a local relative to an au pair, each option comes with perks and limits. Weigh the pros and cons to decide what option is most suitable for your family. For example, if you decide to hire a full-time nanny, your completely dependent on their availability. If he or she quits suddenly, you’re left in a stressful predicament.

With a newborn, it’s natural to feel extra protective. Make a list of qualities you’re looking for in a caregiver, and use it as a checklist when interviewing potential candidates.

Having a baby is one of the happiest occasions you experience in your lifetime. There are ways to prepare for this monumental moment that can help make it less stressful, as well. Reach out to other couples about how they handled maternity/paternity leave, keeping in mind that every family is different. They may have some unexpected experiences that you can prepare for. From all of us at Haven Life, enjoy the new addition to your family.

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About Brittney Burgett

Brittney Burgett is the marketing and communications director at Haven Life, a customer-centric life insurance agency backed and wholly owned by MassMutual. She joined the startup more than five years ago as one of the first ten employees and oversees external communications, content, SEO and various other growth marketing initiatives. Brittney is a passionate leader who believes that managing your financial life doesn't need to be intimidating or complicated and brings that philosophy to all the editorial and brand work at Haven Life. Prior to her role at Haven Life, Brittney worked in public relations, her client list included brands in the tech, food and nutrition spaces.

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Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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