You should configure your parental leave in a way that makes sense for you and your family. You need flexibility when you can take it, and spacing it out can be beneficial for everyone involved. This might mean taking a month before your child's birth, and another month in three months time.
The idea, of course, is much, much easier to think about when you work for a company that explicitly gives parents the option of taking time off in parts. Not everyone has that flexibility and freedom, but it's worth considering if you can take it.
Here are some reasons why you might want to take your parental leave in parts:
You’ll Get to Spend Time With Your Baby at Different Stages
I’ve heard many parents say they’re sad when they have to go back to work after three or months because their babies are “just starting to get fun.” It gets mundane taking care of a newborn who eats, sleeps, poops in an endless cycle.
If you space out your parental leave so that you perhaps take two months off at the beginning, and then another month off when the baby is, say, nine months and giggling and clapping and crawling, you’ll get a chance to spend time with your child at completely different stages.
You Can Work With a Partner to Fill Holes in Child Care
For instance, if a mother is taking three months of maternity leave when the baby is born, perhaps the father or partner can begin their parental leave at three months, prolonging the time before the baby needs alternative child care, which can be extremely costly.
It Might Make Sense From a Career Standpoint
For some, taking parental leave in one large chunk might cause them to lose momentum in a way that’s tough to rebound from. Nikki Pechet, the VP of marketing at Thumbtack, writes in Fast Company about how she was petrified of being away from her work when her second child arrived, so she worked out an arrangement where she would take two months off at the beginning, and then “parcel out the remaining two months allotted to me over the rest of the year.”
The plan allowed her to keep up with her team, while easing back in at a pace that felt right for her. Scoring that type of set-up isn’t common yet, but more companies are recognising that family-friendly policies are a powerful tool for recruiting and retaining top talent.
Talk to your employer about figuring out an arrangement that works well for both you and the company.