More Time for Moms: 5 Reasons To Love 18-Month Parental Leave

The Canadian Federal Government has decided to give new parents (not just moms) more parental leave — up to 18 months — and I love it!

Why? Time. Tiiiiiimmmmmeeeee. With a capital T.

Are you an employer? More time away from work with a new addition could mean happier, more productive, less stressed-out employees. That is, as long as they can afford it.

Thinking about having a baby? You might not think you’d opt for 18 months — but you might be surprised.

Take me, for example. See the photo above? That’s a very pregnant Mrs. Jones in early May of 2015, 40 weeks, bursting at the seams, crib shopping leisurely at Toys R’ Us. Having a baby turned my views of parental leave upside down. As a new mother, having more time to ease into another huge life change (going back to full-time work) would have benefited me in so many ways.

Here’s why… 

5 Reasons to Love 18-Month Parental Leave:

1  |  Moms who take a 12-month leave aren’t necessarily ready to return to work. 

Some are, and some aren’t. I know some new mothers that returned after 6 months, splitting their leave with their partners. I didn’t have this option.

In my case, 18 months would have meant way less stress, guilt-wise, job-wise, daycare-wise, and for my own health. Having half-a-year longer leave could have made it easier to return. I was still breastfeeding on demand and wanted to continue, not just stop or have to pump in the toilet stall at work. (It was either that, or a boardroom with see-through glass!)

To add, I was so anxious about leaving my baby at a daycare I didn’t love, with caregivers that I didn’t trust. I was severely sleep-deprived. I didn’t have access to a day home close by. I had such little energy at the time, was scatter-brained, and was feeling terribly guilty about leaving my baby.

See this What to Expect article: Returning to Work After Maternity Leave.

2  |  Babies aren’t necessarily ready for daycare at 12 months. 

Just like their mamas, some babies are ready and some aren’t.

In my case, my little guy hadn’t learned to walk yet at 12 months old. He wasn’t able to tell me if something went wrong. On a daycare tour, I saw one toddler fell and hit her head on her first day — and her parents weren’t even called. I didn’t like the vibe I got from the caregivers. Their ratio was one adult to four toddlers. Alex needed someone who could give him special attention. Ever time I tried to leave him, he would cry so hard that his face would turn blotchy. It felt terrible for me, too.

Now, at 22 months, I feel he’d be ready. He’s walking, says a few words, and can hold his own in social situations.

2  |  Some childcare facilities won’t accept babies under 18 months of age. 

In my case, the next best daycare only allowed children 19 months and up. With more time, I could have watched my little guy grow into a more independent toddler, and felt much more confident leaving him. Plus, toddler care is cheaper than care for babies. Returning to work at 18 months would have made more sense at that point.

Plus, I was finally feeling caught up on sleep! 

3  |  For in-demand daycares, the wait list can be up to 2 years long. 

In my case, I’d been waiting anxiously to hear from the top daycare on my list. I’d put my name on their waitlist at six weeks pregnant. At six weeks pregnant. Yes, actually. I got the call that they had a spot for Alex at 11:30am on the very day I resigned. I wish I were lying for dramatic effect. This is what happens to so many parents — they end up having to leave their little ones somewhere they aren’t comfortable with due to availability and price.

To add, this preferred daycare would cost over $1,400 per month, part-time or full-time. Affordable? Depends on how much you make.

4  |  More time for new parents means more sleep and resiliency.  

Having a baby is a massive change. One minute you’re working 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, the next you’re working around the clock, day and night, on feedings and diapers. No coffee breaks. No full nights of sleep. No lunch hour walks to stretch. No potlucks. No constant company and projects that demand your mental skills. You’re physically exhausted. You are drained and lonely and tired.

Imagine what a few months of decent sleep can do for an exhausted new parent.

5  |  Getting 33% per month, over 18-months, is still pretty good.  

In my case, I chose to stay home with my son. Now, I have even less money in my bank account than I did on maternity leave. I’m learning what I took for granted before having a baby.

The new parental benefits may now “only” pay up to 33% of earnings for 18-month leave, and 55% for the traditional 12-month leave, but hell… that was still a great chunk of money!

The downside to an 18-month leave:

There’s a flip-side to every argument. An extended leave will not benefit every new parent.

Single moms — let’s start there. If you’re a single mom who is on maternity leave with a huge pay cut, let’s face it — you’re going back to work full-time after 12 months (or sooner) unless you have other means of support or a big wad of savings. Single dads, same goes.

Financially, many moms and dads both need to work full-time. Many new parents can’t afford to live for longer than 12 months with only Employment Insurance adding to their family income.

Overall, I love that the Canadian Government is going to extend parental leave for new parents.

For reasons like sleep, finances, finding quality childcare, work options and hours, and overall stress and guilt — it would have better for me.

Read what my peers had to say about the news on my Facebook post.

Follow the conversation on Facebook & Instagram.


Helpful links:

Seven things to know about Canada’s new parental leave benefits. – Globe and Mail 

Government of Canada – Maternity and Parental Leave 

Canada’s new 18-month parental offers flexibility — but comes with a catch. – Global 

Should Canada extend its maternity leave to 18 months? – Global 

What good is 6 more months? Parents weigh in on work-leave extension. – CBC