Pregnancy is a time of conflicting emotions; while parents are obviously excited about the arrival of their babies, they are also anxious about caring for the little ones. Not only do they have to learn to be responsible parents, they also have to learn to trust others with their kid, especially in case of working parents. After all, it can't be easy parting ways with your adorable baby, even if it's just for a few hours. There is only one solution - you will learn with time. And when it comes to that, you will need to look for childcare options or flexible parental leave. Here is what you should know.
Are you legally entitled to paid parental leave?
Sadly, no. The United State of America still doesn't have a law which makes it mandatory for all companies to provide paid parental leave. According to the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, new parents are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, so a company is not obliged to pay its employees during this period. That said, most companies have started offering paid maternal leave lasting for 14-22 weeks, along with shorter paternal and adoption leaves. For instance, Google offers 22 weeks of paid maternity leave and 8 weeks of paid paternal or adoption leave. Similarly, Yahoo recently increased its paid maternity leave to 16 weeks and paid paternity and adoption leave to 8 weeks. A lot depends on the kind of company you work for and the state you live in. Laws in California and New Jersey allow new parents to take partly paid parental leave. Many working parents believe that a long maternity leave is only a part of the ultimate solution, since parenting doesn't get a lot easier after 16 or 22 weeks. Parents still have to provide for their babies' day-to-day needs, attend medical appointments, tend to them if they fall sick, etc. Therefore, there has been a shift towards more flexible work routines for new parents including work-from-home policies. At some point, however, you will have to consider childcare options.
What childcare options are available for working parents?
Drop your child at a commercial daycare center
All childcare options have their set of pros and cons, some are more personal or safer or more affordable than others. Commercial daycare centers or center-based daycare is one of the most popular childcare options for working parents. At times, they are stand-alone centers or they might be run by and housed in the company your work for. In either case, they accept children within the age group 0-6, who are then classified into groups according to their age. The biggest advantage is that these centers are run by professionally approved childcare providers, which means that you don't have to worry about the well-being of your child. On the flip side, owing to the large number of children at a single daycare center, your child might not get a lot of individual attention.
Choose an in-home daycare center for a more homey environment
For parents looking for a more personal space, in-home daycare centers are ideal since these are based in the house of a care provider. Once again, these experts have the necessary approval and state laws can even decide the maximum number of children at a single in-home day care. The environment is more homey, timings are more flexible, and children sometimes find it easier to adapt to such circumstances.
Hire a full-time nanny
By now, you must have learned that childcare doesn't come cheap. A full time nanny, who will stay at home with your child at all times, is one of the more expensive childcare options. When hiring a nanny, ask for recommendation letters from prior employers or contact them yourself. A nanny is possibly the best form of childcare since your child gets one-on-one attention all the time, and you can train your nanny to provide specialized care. A more economical option is to use a nanny's or babysitter's services only when you really need it; for example, when you have to attend a wedding or go to a really important dinner party. At these times, you can call a nanny over or drop your child to her place, whatever works for you, your baby and the nanny.
Be a stay-at-home parent
Some parents, when they sit down and do the math, find it is actually more economical to have one parent either work part time or stay home full time. The lost wages from a stay-at-home parent may be less than the cost of childcare. If you are expecting a child, be sure to research all of your childcare options so you can decide what is best for your family.