Sugarlaws: Living Sweetly.

why paternity leave is important too

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November 19th, 2014 · Print Print

In case you haven’t been following this issue, paternity leave — paid or unpaid time off that new dads take to spend with their kids — has been a hot topic lately.  It’s an issue that Chad and I have spent a lot of time discussing and planning in the last few months, and I thought it might be valuable to talk a little bit about our perspective. 

In case you haven’t been following, here’s a quick summary.  Currently, the United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t offer any type of paid leave for new parents.  Thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act, larger employers must offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents.  That’s it. 

Now, that’s a problem for new moms.  It means that lots of moms have to go back to work earlier than they’d like, or need to make hard choices about their careers and the ability to balance a family. 

But there is a deeper problem.  And one that a lot of people don’t think about.

When we talk about parental leave, we mean maternity leave

As in: Only women take it. 

As in: Only women are offered it, much of the time.

But raising children isn’t just the job of the mom anymore.  Studies show that the happiest households are those that with dads who do chores and spend time with kids.  Not only do those moms get more satisfaction out of their marriages, but dads do too. 

The fact is: the disengaged dad is a relic.  We don’t live in a society where, like Don Draper, dad comes home on the evening train with a cocktail after the kids are in bed.  It’s not true in any family I know — instead, dads value their time with their children as much as moms do, and our parental leave policies should reflect that. 

And Chad and I were extremely lucky.  We had a situation that any new family would dream of: my husband was permitted a generous amount of paid leave from his law firm.  An amount that many moms don’t get, let alone dads. 

And I was nervous.  Paternity leave isn’t as widely accepted as maternity leave, and I wondered: Would this affect his future career?  What doors would close because he made this choice?  Would people be angry that he took time away from his job, for the mere purpose of spending time with our son?

Then suddenly I realized: those are the questions that face every woman who has taken maternity leave.  Paid or unpaid.  What repercussions would this have for her career?  What sacrifices are she willing to make, to take time with her children?

Sure, there are some biological reasons that moms have to make these choices more often than dads do.  But they are important to both genders.  Moms and Dads have to make these decisions.  Pretending that this is only an issue for moms keeps parental leave as a women’s issue, and it quite nearly guarantees that we will never make progress in getting to a solution that works. 

But parental leave isn’t a women’s issue.  It’s an issue for parents: men, women, gay parents, adoptive parents, everyone

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And you know what?  When Chad was home more, spending time with the baby, his perspective changed.  Up until then, I had been the primary caretaker of our son, and he just didn’t understand what I meant when I said that it had been a hard day.  His perspective was different: no matter how hard a baby was, it wasn’t as hard as being a lawyer (I confess: I felt the same way before our baby was born). 

Then, we had a morning where Chad took care of Bear on a particularly fussy day, and I slept in (yes, I was up all night and then handed the baby off at 7 am and slept till 10, and it was the best thing ever). 

And when I came downstairs to see them, he told me: “I know what you mean, now.  It’s really hard.”

And you guys, I melted.  Months after my worst day, when I was all but immune to those tough days when the baby crying never seems to end, it meant so much to me to have it recognized by my husband.  To have him say, “I understand what you’ve been struggling with, these past months.  I get it now.”

And who knows?  Maybe we would have gotten there without parental leave, but maybe not.  I am still working; my career is fundamentally important to me, but balancing our son and my work has been incredibly challenging, like it is for any mom.  And to have a dad who understands that balance, who knows what you’re going through on a bad day: it’s invaluable. 

It makes two parents into partners.

So when we advocate for leave for moms, I think we should be advocating for dads too.  It’s families that need this help. 

Placing the burden solely on moms is never going to fix this problem.  But advocating for leave policies for both men and women, for retiring those outdated gender stereotypes — I think that’s what’s crucial for us all to move forward. 

So let’s figure out how to get there.

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→ CommentsTags: baby · life








do’s and don’ts of holiday presents for new babies!

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November 18th, 2014 · Print Print

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Today on SheKnows, I wrote about a few do’s and don’ts when you’re shopping for holiday presents for new babies!  As everyone starts getting into the holiday spirit, spend a little time thinking about the gifts that a baby will love… that won’t drive mom nuts!

Head over here to read the full piece!

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Hostess Tips for Holiday Party Planning!

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November 17th, 2014 · Print Print

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The holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with family and friends, and one of the best ways to get into the spirit of the season is to throw a holiday party!  Even if you don’t host friends regularly year-round, everyone’s inner host or hostess comes out as the holidays roll around.  But the trick for entertaining with a smile is to keep things festive but still relaxed — so I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite tips for holiday hostessing!

Set the Tone with a Festive Theme

Holiday parties come in all shapes and sizes: from a fancy catered office party to having a few girls over at home.  If cocktail parties are your thing, go right ahead, but also consider some outside-the-box that your friends will enjoy: anything from a cookie-decorating party, a tree-trimming bash, or a girls night in with your favorite holiday movies. 

Think Beyond Saturday Night

Inevitably, everyone wants to throw their holiday party on the same Saturday night: before everyone goes out of town, but after everyone gets into the feel of the season.  Unfortunately, that means that people get booked for those prime holiday weekends way in advance, and your guests will likely be party-hopping all night.  My solution?  Pick an “off” night — a Thursday or Friday evening or even a Sunday afternoon — to avoid fighting for prime holiday hours and ensure all your friends can be in attendance!

Serve a Signature Beverage

Sure, you can serve wine and beer and call it day… but this is a holiday party, so why not try something a little more creative?  One way to enjoy festive drinks (but not turn yourself into a one-woman bartender all night) is to pick one signature beverage and do the prep work ahead of time.  If you’re serving, say, mulled cider with cinnamon sticks and a splash of Kahlúa (and now that I’ve mentioned it, gosh, doesn’t that sound like the perfect thing to serve?), you can prep it a day in advance and then just warm it up before your guests arrive. 

Get a Helping Hand

And on that note: if you’re having more than, say, twenty people, consider getting a little help.  A helping hand can go a long way, whether it’s some prepared food that you pick up before the party, a bartender to make sure everyone’s glass is full throughout the night, or hiring a cleaning service to swing by the next morning. 

When the Doorbell Rings, Enjoy Your Own Party!

It’s tempting to be the perfect hostess who stays up all night whipping up canapes from scratch, and some of us really enjoy spending time and energy on homemade treats.  But, you know what?  Your guests might oooh and aaah over those fancy dishes you spent hours on, but at the end of the day, what they really want is time with you.  Not the exhausted, up-all-night, can’t-leave-the-table-unattended-for-ten-seconds you, but the you who’s ready to catch up, to ask them how work is going, and to sip a cocktail with a smile.  Sure, parties take work, but they should be fun, too.  Don’t be too busy throwing your holiday party to enjoy it.

You know my favorite part of every party?  When there are a few friends left, at the very end of the night.  When you’re done answering the door and refilling people’s drinks, and you can just sit down, relax and just talk.  And you know what?  That’s the best time for one last drink, that you can sip slowly and linger with over good conversation.  So for that moment, when it’s just a few of your good friends left, when you want to keep the party going a little while longer, I give you: the Midnight Kiss.

The Midnight Kiss

INGREDIENTS

4 parts hot coffee
1 part Kahlúa
1 part vanilla vodka
1 part skim milk
Whipped cream
Chocolate Sprinkles

DIRECTIONS

Stir together the Kahlúa, coffee, vodka, and milk and pour into teacups.  Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, and serve.

The best cocktails are sipped responsibly.  When you’re hosting holiday parties and all year round, don’t overindulge and never drink and drive!

Disclosure: I have been compensated for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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→ CommentsTags: cocktails · holiday