Guide To Enjoying Parental Leave

Published on September 11, 2023 by Sawyer Middeleer

Guide To Enjoying Parental Leave

Navigating the journey of parenting can be both exhilarating and challenging, especially when it comes to taking time off work for parental leave. Whether you are awaiting the arrival of a new baby or are planning to adopt, parental leave is a pivotal time that allows you to bond with your child without the stress of your daily work routines.

However, shifting from a structured work environment to the unpredictable nature of childcare requires preparation and adjustment. In this guide, we'll explore how to make the most of your parental leave, ensuring it's a time of joy, bonding, and personal growth.

Understanding Your Parental Leave Rights

Before your new family member arrives, familiarize yourself with your legal rights and your company’s parental leave policies. Jurisdictions vary significantly in terms of mandatory leave allowances, pay, and job protection. Ensure you understand:

  • Duration of Leave: How long can you take off?
  • Pay Structure: Will you receive full pay, partial pay, or no pay during your absence?
  • Job Protection: Does your role remain secure while you're on leave?
  • Notice Period: How far in advance should you notify your employer about taking leave?

Planning Your Leave

Preparation is key. These steps can help ease the transition into and out of parental leave:

Pre-Leave Transition:

  • Communicate early with your employer to discuss expectations.
  • Develop a handover plan for your responsibilities.
  • Identify a point person for important questions in your absence.

Post-Leave Transition:

  • Plan for a phased return to work if possible.
  • Set expectations with your employer about work-life balance.
  • Keep abreast of any major changes that may have occurred in your absence.

Financial Preparation

Parental leave can affect your financial situation, particularly if it is unpaid or at a reduced salary. Plan accordingly:

  • Budget for a reduced income period and potential additional expenses with a new child.
  • Explore government benefits and company policies that may subsidize leave.
  • Consider any necessary adjustments, like reducing discretionary spending or building up savings in advance.

Creating a Support System

The adage "It takes a village to raise a child" holds true. Surround yourself with a support network that can include:

  • Family and Friends: Who can offer practical help or advice?
  • Parent Groups: Consider joining local or online groups for resources and shared experiences.
  • Professional Services: Research options for later, like childcare support, to smooth your return to work.

Bonding with Your Child

The primary purpose of parental leave is to bond with your child. Embrace activities that strengthen your connection:

  • Skin-to-skin contact for newborns.
  • Reading and storytelling.
  • Quiet time together, like taking walks or cuddling.
  • Joining parent and baby groups.

Personal Well-being

Taking care of yourself is crucial during this transition. Focus on:

Physical Health:

  • Prioritize sleep whenever possible, even if it means adjusting your schedule to match your child’s.
  • Maintain a basic exercise routine to boost energy levels.

Mental Health:

  • Acknowledge that feeling overwhelmed at times is natural and seek support if needed.
  • Engage in stress-reducing activities like meditation, reading, or hobbies.


  • Keep a stock of nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals.
  • Stay hydrated, especially if breastfeeding.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Remember that every child and experience is unique:

  • Discard idealized notions of "perfect" parenting.
  • Be flexible and adaptable to your child’s needs and rhythms.
  • Accept that there may be tough days, and that’s okay.

Keeping Connection with the Working World

While the focus is on your child, occasionally touching base with your professional life can ease the return later:

  • Engage in light reading on industry news.
  • Maintain contact with colleagues.
  • If possible, attend critical meetings or check emails periodically (but only if it doesn’t add stress).

Cherishing the Moment

Parental leave is not just a break from work—it's a profoundly important period for your family. Make sure to:

  • Take plenty of photos and keep a journal to remember these fleeting moments.
  • Celebrate milestones with your child.

Preparing for the Return to Work

As you approach the end of your leave:

  • Communicate with your employer about your transition back.
  • Update your wardrobe if necessary—this can also boost your confidence.
  • Start adjusting your (and your child’s) routine to match your work schedule in advance.


Parental leave is a unique period filled with opportunities. With the right preparation and mindset, it can be an enriching experience, laying the cornerstone of a lifelong bond with your child while maintaining personal well-being and setting the stage for a smooth return to work. Remember that adjustments will occur, and flexibility is your ally. Above all, parental leave is a time to slow down, enjoy your growing family, and create cherished memories that will nourish personal and familial growth for years to come.

Take your workflow to the next level