Parenting Series: Preparing Your Personal Life for Parental Leave

The Basics

There are a lot of unknowns in pregnancy and parenthood. As a family lawyer, I can attest to the fact that no parent can ever really be certain that they’re doing everything correctly – even when everyone is doing their best. When it comes to preparing for a maternity leave, there are some right ways and some wrong ways to make the transition from working person to working parent.

Talk It Out

First, talk with your partner about your expectations for parental leave before you start trying to have a baby. Depending on your age and stage, one of you may have more or less flexibility around parental leave or you may be at a critical point in your career where taking a substantial amount of time off just is not feasible. Obviously, if you’re the person who is planning to have the baby, you’ll need to take some amount of time off to make sure your body has time to heal and recover following the birth, but taking a full year of parental leave (as you’re able to do in Canada) is not a foregone conclusion. Also, allow for the fact that your partner may want to spend some alone time with the baby. As the birthing parent, you are an important part of the child’s life, but you do not want to become the gatekeeper of all things baby. In Canada, parents can (and I think should) share the parental leave benefits to the extent that it’s possible. Starting early on will ensure that you’re able to develop a healthy co-parenting relationship with your partner. However, for some people, taking a full year off may spell financial/career disaster, which leads me to my next point.

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