Opinion: Let New Moms Bring Babies to Work
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Becoming a mother is an earth-shattering emotional transition, and with it comes a slew of sometimes unexpected challenges, not the least of which is making the decision of whether or not to re-enter the work force.
Unfortunately, for most mothers, it's an all-or-nothing choice: You're either in or you're out. But some companies are beginning to help make the transition back to the office a little smoother for new moms by allowing them to bring their babies with them when they return to work after maternity leave, according to the State-Register Journal in Springfield, Ill.
Can I get a hallelujah? Finally, a humane way to deal with the end of maternity leave: giving Mom, baby and employer alike some flexibility. Leaving your newborn baby behind, no matter how trusted your caregiver may be, or how fulfilling your career is, creates an emotional mine field.
I'm not saying employers should go so far as to baby-proof and let moms (or dads) bring the kids to work forever, but giving parents a transition period of five months or so -- such as the one offered by The Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association -- gives all parties a chance to settle into their new roles.
I felt like I had no choice but to go back to work after my daughter was born. And before I held her in my arms, I was all for it. I was one of the lucky ones, too; I had an eight-week paid maternity leave instead of the traditional six weeks off. But as any new mom will tell you, eight weeks goes by in the blink of an eye.
And, frankly, what did my employer get? A weepy worker who was so miserable that she finally quit her job. A lose-lose situation for everyone.
In an ideal world, the United States would catch up to other Western countries and offer a realistic maternity leave policy that really benefits parents and children, such as the one recently proposed by the European Union's employment ministers. Under the proposal, each parents will be allowed to take four months off and transfer months between the pair to allow one parent to take up to seven months off.
Until then, giving women (and men, too) the chance to transition back to the work place slowly by bringing baby with them, rather than making an abrupt change during a time when they are in the throes of emotional and physical upheaval, benefits everyone.
Related: Babies of Working Moms Get Just as Much Cuddle Time