I’ve often thought, if only policy-makers truly understood what infants are like – how small and completely dependable they are for everything – surely they would create policies supporting new parents and their young families.
Yes, law-makers and employers may have once been new parents themselves, but it is possible to forget. That entire first year can be a total blur of just trying to survive. And once out of the woods when some semblance of (a new) normalcy resumes, it can be difficult to remember how all consuming it is to have a newborn. How the sleep deprivation becomes torturous. How quickly a once rational adult can turn into a puddle of malfunction at the hands of a tiny human weighing a matter of pounds. I've even heard forgetting is a natural response so we have children again!
What if we found a way to remind law-makers and employers about that first crucial year?
We’ve all seen the milestone baby pictures posted ubiquitously on every social media platform a new parent is sufficiently young to understand. Dear daughter at 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, etc… Mostly adorable and fun to follow, some including developmental milestones and other tidbits about the baby’s burgeoning personality.
What if we married the milestone concept with the dismal facts surrounding paid leave in the United States, providing a week by week visual component in an effort to elicit that recollection or understanding?
And so, when my baby boy was born, he became the unwitting model and paid leave milestone baby. Each week since he’s been born, I’ve posted on Instagram and Facebook an updated picture along with a fact of the week or resource about paid leave. For example:
I’ve kept it simple. Just me, the babe, and the same pose week after week. No fancy photography or lighting. No props or cute clothes. It's truly "in-real-life" (and about all this sleep-deprived mama could handle).
This simple set up also provides a consistent means to show his growth. And while I somehow ended up with a baby nearly off the height chart (I'm fairly petite), the pictures show just how tiny and dependable a baby is that entire first year. Now, when sharing the jarring new finding that 1 in 4 U.S. mothers returns to work just two weeks after giving birth, according to a report by New America, there's a picture that goes with it:
I will continue to post these milestone pictures each week for a year. My hope is you use them to make a difference:
Share the posts with your networks on Instagram and Facebook to create awareness.
Use them to bring up family at work and at the legislature (see our guides for how).
And if you're that person who can implement new policies, do it! Your employees/constituents need you (see our paid parental leave policy template here).
Together we can make the United States more supportive of families!