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#Startup Life: Defining a Parental Leave Policy

written by, Miriam Bloom Williams and Tara Elwell Henning | co-founders of Bloomwell

The startup environment requires constant and ruthless prioritization, and in most early stage startups, parental leave policies aren’t implemented until the need arises. This means that expectant moms and dads often find themselves in a unique position: the first person at your startup to have a baby. As if things aren’t hectic enough, you’re acutely aware that your decisions may impact the new parents that come after you. We’ve *literally* been there – so we’ve put together a step-by-step approach to help you get it done, regardless if your company even has an HR department yet!

1. Know Your Rights & Share Benchmarks

Many executives are looking to do “the right thing” but aren’t certain what that might be. In addition to knowing your state and federal rights, providing benefits benchmarks is crucial to establishing a policy that is perceived as fair, generous, or even best in class. 

Federal laws: The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, is a federal program that guarantees your job – unpaid – for 12 weeks after baby. 

State laws & Short Term Disability Insurance: Eight states and D.C ( California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Oregon and D.C.) have additional laws to support families, including short term disability insurance that allows you to receive a portion of your salary while you’re on leave. Many progressive companies complete the gap. For example, if CA law covers 45% of your salary, a company may want to offer coverage of the remaining 55%. 

Benchmarks: Many companies go above and beyond what is legally required. Both Glassdoor and Fairygodboss offer visibility to the leave policies of major corporations. Consider not just the length of time, but what portion of your leave might be paid, or can be taken unpaid. 

This stage is also a great time to remind the leadership team that parental leave policies are an amazing recruitment and retention tool. 

2.  Parental leave policy templates

Whether or not you’re in HR or the legal department, this is an all hands on deck kind of situation. You can find examples on Workable and SHRM

3.  Consider return to work resources

While we all love a onesie with the company logo, we love some even more powerful ways to show support for the growing families.

Make food preparation easier: A gift card to Blue Apron, Doordash or Uber Eats.

Ease back to work with a 4-day work week for the first month. 

Drop-in or emergency child care benefits can take some stress off two-income households when unplanned issues arise with childcare providers.

Institute flexible work policies including Work From Home, ensuring that all meetings take place between core work hours of 9 to 4.

For jobs that require travel, consider a partnership with Milk Stork.

4. Take your leave. And encourage male colleagues to do the same.

We love the stories of new fathers Alexis Ohanian (Reddit co-founder, married to Serena Williams) and Adam Rhuberg (Director of Analytics, UpWork), acknowledging that family leave is essential for both parents … and confirming that both parents share and enjoy childcare duties. Remind your male colleagues that taking their full parental leave sets a positive precedent for others in the company who might want or need the support.

Miriam Bloom Williams and Tara Elwell Henning are the co-founders of Bloomwell, a new maternity apparel brand for boss moms. They met over a decade ago working at Louis Vuitton, and both spent time at high growth retail technology startup, Narvar. Tara was the first employee to have a baby at Narvar, and helped shape the leave policy. They are moms to Alexandra (4), Taylor (2) and David (2). 

Why Meal Planning is Time Well Spent

written by, Tatiana Mone | Founder of Tatiana Mone Fitness

The hustle and bustle of everyday life can often leave us feeling drained. Between dropping off the kids, working and attempting to remain sane eating well often falls off the list. For me life is all about planning. If it is not written down, it is not going to happen. There I said it aloud. 

Meal Planning or Menu Planning has been a game changer in my wellness journey. While my time and energy is limited, it is important for me to make sure I am feeding me and my family well. 

Now everybody loves a laid back Sunday. Sunday for me is a day to regroup and prepare for my week. This coveted day of rest can also be an essential first step towards a highly productive and healthy week, with just a little planning.

Ok you still aren’t convinced you should give up your weekend to plan your menu for the week?

Read on to see my favorite perks of meal prep and tips to make your Sunday cooking session easy and convenient for your busy life!

 1 – Cooking relieves stress

If you’re like me, the kitchen can provide a wonderful outlet for serenity and creativity. It’s a place where you can let go of the negativity and stress in the world and solely focus on the task at hand. Cooking is also the perfect place to try something new – whether that is a recipe, a technique or a spice that you’ve never used before. I challenge you to shake it up in the kitchen and add your own personal flavor to your favorite meal prep recipes!

2 – Meal prep saves time and money

When your week is dedicated to kids, work, personal fitness and everything in between, figuring out what you want to do for lunch and dinner can be a hassle. This uncertainty is also a gateway to overspending and overeating if you choose a restaurant over a home-cooked meal. Do something good for both your wallet and your body by preparing healthy options before your alarm goes off Monday morning, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the time and money you save on food. Plus, you’ll be able to choose what goes in your kids’ lunches so you can rest assured that they are getting the nutrition that they need throughout the day.

3 – Pre-planned meals help you achieve your fitness goals

If not for the above benefits, plan your meals on Sunday so that you can slim down and stay healthy. When I’m rushing in between meetings and school activities, it is so much more tempting for me to stop and grab something on the go. Those little cheats add up and in turn, throw me off balance in the course of my journey towards holistic wellness. That’s not to say that a little cheat here and there isn’t welcome, but pre-planning balanced meals ahead of time will certainly empower you to stay on course and accomplish the health milestones that you work so hard to reach.

And hey, who’s to say that perfectly wholesome meals can’t be delicious too? ?

Now that we know why meal prep is important, let’s talk a little bit about how to successfully abide by this plan. These tips work for me and my crazy life, so I hope they add a little convenience to yours too.

  • Chop your own herbs and veggies to avoid overpriced pre-cut produce
  • Stick to your shopping list – don’t let junk food sneak in to your cart!
  • Try and stick to the perimeter of the grocery store since processed foods live in the aisles
  • Include play around with herbs in your recipes for added flavor and nutritional benefits
  • Don’t forget about drinkable meals – smoothies are a great way to boost breakfast!
  • Mix up recipes every week to avoid repetition and boredom

Need ideas on where to start? Check out two of my favorite recipes below:

Overnight Oats

 (Serves 1)

1 cup of your favorite non-dairy nut milk

2 tbsp chia seeds

¼ tsp vanilla bean powder (can sub out 1/2 tsp 

pure vanilla extract)

½ tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

Sea salt to taste

2 chopped dates

¼ slivered almonds

½ sliced banana (frozen is great!)

Optional toppings: cacao nibs, berries, pumpkin seeds, fresh fruit

Put all the ingredients in a mason jar, refrigerate overnight, and enjoy in the morning! 

You can add in more fruit or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup if you want more sweetness

Pro tip: Mason Jars 

One-Pan Chicken Fajitas 

(Makes 6 servings)

1 tbsp chili powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

3 large yellow and red bell peppers, sliced and 

seeded

1 large yellow onion, sliced

2 tbsp avocado oil

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, 

cut into tender-sized slices

1 lime, juiced

(your choice of toppings: salsa, avocado, goat 

cheese, pepitas)

Line a baking sheet with foil, and preheat the broiler to high

Mix the chili powder, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper in a small bowl.

In a larger bowl, toss the peppers and onions with 1 tbsp of oil and place on the baking 

sheet. Season with half of the chili powder mixture. Broil for about 10 minutes, until they are soft and starting to char.

Toss the chicken with the remaining spice mixture and 1 tbsp oil. Add to the baking 

sheet with the charred veggies, and broil for 5-8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked 

through and beginning to brown. Drizzle with the lime juice and add salt/pepper to taste.

Remove the oven and put on a serving platter, with your choice of toppings.

ABOUT TATIANA

Tatiana Mone, is the owner of Tatiana Mone Fitness. Above all else, she is a mother, and also a certified health coach and personal trainer. She holds an MBA and her experience working in corporate America and as a military spouse helps her relate to clients. Tatiana works with busy, everyday women, and specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness. Her passion is helping women develop a plan that fits their goals and lifestyles. Tatiana doesn’t believe in fad diets or extremes. The goal is sustainability.

Instagram: @TatianaMoneFitness | Facebook: Tatiana Mone Fitness | Website: www.tatianamonefitness.trainerize.com  | Email: tatiaana@tatianamonefitness.com

The Need for Female-to-Female Human Connection

written by, Ali Glinsky | Moms on Maternity New Parent Educator

I have never had a hard time making friends, but it takes work to meet and connect with people. As a New Mom moving across the state, starting over seemed daunting. I barely had time for my husband, between our work schedules and his work travel I felt like there was no time for anything else. 

I was pregnant with my second when we moved to Northern California. I am from a neighboring town, but most of my friends from growing up had dispersed. Since I was working part time when we moved and I was 5 months pregnant, I found myself savoring the last solo summer with my first child. Time flew by, as it does, and once I got out of the new baby fog I looked up and there I was, seemingly alone and I realized I had put my own needs for female human connection, for other mom friends to the side, just to get through the days.

I realized how much I needed that connection and community. While it was always built-in in Los Angeles, I had to work for it up North. After spending countless hours on my phone during breastfeeding sessions, I went down an Instagram rabbit hole where I found a few Mom related accounts. Some about working moms, some just general mom stuff and I hit follow on a few that caught my eye. Those little squares and captions that started to pop up in my feed made me feel seen, heard and not alone. I love the daily reminder that we are all going through it with young kids and no one has it all figured out. There are also some hysterical moments right when you need them.

I knew I had to take my need for community seriously. I once read something that said ‘just start’ and I have come to live by this recently. Once you start something, you have no idea what can be set into motion and develop. I have seen it many times over in my own personal growth and development. Just start, take one tiny step in the direction you want to go in and it can lead to another and so on.

I joined a small baby group at my local community center with my second baby. Although the group only met twice per month, it allowed me to dip my toes into a community I was longing for without over committing myself. I slowly have become more involved. I have joined an advisory board and have met some great moms to connect and share with. I have learned, you have to know yourself and know what you need for YOU. If you start small it is easier. Start small, and don’t be afraid to try something new or different and to be a little uncomfortable.

Why Being a Selfish Parent is Okay

written by, Shannon Handy Grassi | News Reporter KFMB TV

When I found I was pregnant with our first born, I was happy……but scared.  We had only tried for a couple months. In that regard, we were very fortunate.  But, I had mentally prepared myself to try for a lot longer, given what so many of my friends had been through.  So, when it happened as quickly as it did, I panicked. It wasn’t for the reasons you’d expect. Of course I wondered how we were going to raise another human.  More than anything, I was scared to give up the life I had. I was being selfish.

I thought about all the things in life I enjoyed, without having to make concessions for someone else.  Together, my husband and I love to travel, hang out with our friends, go out to dinner. Independently, I look forward to daily workouts, happy hour with my girlfriends….basically, the freedom to do what I want, when I want (when work doesn’t get in the way).  I thought a baby would change all that. 

Siena Grassi was born in April of 2017.  We experienced what all first time parents do….sleepless nights, confusing scenarios.  Ultimately, we hit our stride, even if it didn’t coincide with what other new parents would do.  We took our newborn out of the house almost immediately. We introduced her to various sitters (we have no family nearby).  We did date nights. We traveled (with the baby). We tried to keep a schedule, but if it didn’t work out, we dealt with her crankiness and moved on (especially when venturing to a different time zone).  Basically, we refused to stop living.  

To this day, my husband has weekly boys’ nights.  He continues to play in his various sports leagues.  He’s taken boys’ trips. I workout six days a week. If I want to meet my friends for dinner or happy hour (virgin drinks—I’m pregnant with our second), I coordinate with my husband, or a sitter, and make it happen.  Does this sometimes mean spending less time with our daughter? Yes. But, I think it’s the best thing we can do for her….and ourselves. Remember, when you have a baby, that little miracle came into your lives….you didn’t come into theirs.  Yes, changes need to be made. But, you don’t need to give up who you are, or the things you enjoy doing. You need to have balance. Even if that means taking a few minutes for yourself everyday…make it happen. If your partner, a relative, or a sitter aren’t options…reach out to a friend who’s willing to take over for an hour.  That’s what’s going to keep you sane, and happy. A happy parent makes for a happier baby. In other words, it’s ok to be selfish.

The Evolution of Moms On Maternity

written by, Aimee Cruz | Moms on Maternity Founder & CEO

Businesses, like babies, grow up. If you are reading this, it means our new website has launched. I started Moms on Maternity when my second son was two months old – he is now two and a half! I wanted to meet more career-oriented, like-minded women who also just had a baby and were planning to go back to work or build a business. With my first son (who is now almost 5!), I did not take the time to make many Working Mom friends during my maternity leave, and I knew this was my chance with my second son. I was blessed to not have to go back to work until each of my boys were five months old thanks to a combination of living in California and working for Deloitte and Touche.

This business started as a series of events. Each month, New and Expecting Moms would attend with their babies and we would have a guest speaker on a topic related to Baby, Self or Career. The real magic was in connecting with each other, however, and leaving with new Facebook or Playdate friends. There have been so many women who have connected because of Moms on Maternity events and we are very honored to have had a role in building community for New Moms who can, at times, feel isolated.

We all need connection. Humans are wired to feel part of something bigger than themselves. We want personal fulfillment, love and strong family relationships. We want to be great parents. We also need to work (well most of us do anyway) for economic reasons.

After having my first son in 2014, I had much fear about going back to work. I networked internally at Deloitte and found a new role where I could work from home 100%. After 6 months, I realized the role was not for me and returned to designing and delivering client workshops in major USA cities. I still was able to work from home but also went on the road for 1 – 4 nights at a time monthly or every other month. I ended up hiring a nanny for my boys as I did not realize how long the waitlists are for daycares near my house for babies.

I think a lot of women are scared to go back to work after having a baby. I wanted to build a community of Working Parents where we could see each other, talk and realize we are not alone in needing to work and wanting to be amazing parents.

The days are long but the years are short and Moms on Maternity has now after two years hit a new and major milestone. This is our first ever rebrand with our new logo and enhanced mission to fight for National Paid Family Leave. How is it that America is one of the only countries to not guarantee workers paid family leave; there are only five states that do.

Aimee Cruz

Founder and CEO Moms on Maternity

The Evolution of Moms on Maternity

Businesses, like babies, grow up. If you are reading this, it means our new website has launched. I started Moms on Maternity when my second son was two months old – he is now two and a half! I wanted to meet more career-oriented, like-minded women who also just had a baby and were planning to go back to work or build a business.

With my first son (who is now almost 5!), I did not take the time to make many working mom friends during my maternity leave, and I knew this was my chance with my second son. I was blessed to not have to go back to work until each of my boys were five months old thanks to a combination of living in California and working for Deloitte and Touche.

 

This business started as a series of events. Each month, new and expecting moms would attend with their babies and we would have a guest speaker on a topic related to baby, self or career. The real magic was in connecting with each other, however, and leaving with new Facebook or Playdate friends. There have been so many women who have connected because of Moms on Maternity events and we are very honored to have had a role in building community for new moms who can, at times, feel isolated.

 

We all need connection. Humans are wired to feel part of something bigger than themselves. We want personal fulfillment, love and strong family relationships. We want to be great parents. We also need to work (well most of us do anyway) for economic reasons. 

 

After having my first son in 2014, I had much fear about going back to work. I networked internally at Deloitte and found a new role where I could work from home 100%. After 6 months, I realized the role was not for me and returned to designing and delivering client workshops in major USA cities. I still was able to work from home but also went on the road for 1 – 4 nights at-a-time, monthly or every other month. I ended up hiring a nanny for my boys as I did not realize how long the waitlists are for daycares in my area. 

 

I think a lot of women are scared to go back to work after having a baby. I wanted to build a community of Working Parents where we could see each other, talk and realize we are not alone in needing to work and wanting to be amazing parents.

 

The days are long, but the years are short and Moms on Maternity has now, after two years hit a new and major milestone. This is our first ever rebrand with our new logo and enhanced mission to fight for National Paid Family Leave. How is it America is one of the only countries to not guarantee workers paid family leave? Currently, there are only five states that do.

 

Our new offerings are the most powerful and thoughtfully designed yet. We worked hard and with many New Moms and Business Innovators to develop our Virtual Mom Tribes and our Family at Work Culture Program. Our Virtual Dad Tribes are going to be released very soon too!

 

Please take a look at the links above. Thank you for reading this. And, more importantly, thank-you for being part of the change. We hope all expecting and new parents feel supported as both professionals and people raising our next generation.

 

Aimee Cruz

Founder and CEO Moms on Maternity