Like so many of you, I have been spending a great deal of time at home with my children due to the pandemic. Being home has given me a lot of time to reflect on the past and current situations. Recently after some elaborate discussion, we decided to send our children back to school after being home for 3 months. I honestly had the same feelings I did when I sent my child to daycare after maternity leave: guilt, frustration, sadness, and feelings of being unsettled.
Although these current times are unprecedented, I think the feelings of guilt and trying to make the right decisions for yourself and your family are ever so present. I find myself trying to weigh the pros and cons of my decisions literally hourly.
Unfortunately, in many areas of Wisconsin and in most of the United States, we do not have paid medical leave for families needing to care for a loved one or after welcoming a baby. I have experienced how stressful this can be after caring for my mom at the end of her life and again after the birth of my children. Both times, people very dear to my heart needed my care, but taking time off work left financial stress and difficult decisions.
With the current situation going on, I can’t help but think about my dear friends who are pregnant right now. It was hard enough going back to work so soon after my babies were born. I didn’t have a choice on the timeline. My leave from work after I had my kids was unpaid, and I had to make a living. I honestly cannot imagine being forced with that same decision during a pandemic.
Did you know that women with paid medical leave are more likely to return to work after having time to care for their newborn? Less likely to develop postpartum depression and anxiety? I can completely attest to this. After our third was born, I just could not manage it all. I ended up quitting my job to stay home and raise the babies. The responsibilities I held caused me to feel stretched beyond thin. I needed time to care for my own mental health and my own body. But that time is a luxury and definitely not financially supported as it should be. So, I developed a significant bout of depression and worked incredibly hard for the next year to feel better.
I think supporting individuals with paid family and medical leave is so crucial. It reduces the financial burden on nursing facilities to care for those that are ill, and it allows parents to raise their young children providing care they need at such a vulnerable time. Not to mention, having babies is hard. It’s hard on the Mother, and we desperately need to be taken care of as well. Reducing financial stress can play a huge role in eliminating depression and anxiety while a Mom recovers and cares for herself and her baby.
So what do you think? Do you think paid maternity and family leave is important? My opinion is my own, and it’s only based upon my circumstances, but I really think there are so many other women and men out there in situations like me who would really be thankful for the opportunity to care for their parent, grandparent or young baby without having to fret of losing their job or not being able to bring food to the table. We have to do better as a society and learn from those that are supporting paid leave.
I have teamed up with @familyfriendlywisconsin to bring awareness to the lack of paid family and medical leave options. Sadly, many Wisconsinites lack the paid time off to undergo a medical procedure or are unable to care for a loved one while they recover. You can learn more about the importance of paid medical leave on https://act.familyfriendlywisconsin.org/inf_ffp_k