I am extremely proud to say that in the past three years, over 500 expectant and new moms reduced their anxiety about going back to work and found a community of other new working moms through the Mindful Return 4-week e-course.  More than 30 employers now offer the Mindful Return maternity leave course as a maternity leave benefit.  And parent affinity groups have sprouted up at workplaces across the country, founded by Mindful Return alums.  YES to working parent leadership!

But what about the dads?  The employers I work with have told me they want to be able to provide gender-neutral parental leave benefits.  And the moms in my courses say their partners want to learn, too.  One even told me her husband printed out her lessons from the Mindful Return course and worked them himself to be able to have the same benefits of this educational opportunity!

The culture around paternity leave is changing for the better, nationwide.  More and more dads are taking more time off to care for their little ones.  And I agree that it’s high time to help everyone navigate the transition into and out of parental leave – whether you’re a new mom or a new dad.

This past summer, I met an amazing working dad of two, Jeremy Smith, founder of Paternity Leave Pioneer.  Jeremy and I have teamed up to create the Mindful Return Paternity Leave Course, which we are so excited to be able to offer starting now to new working dads.

I’d like to introduce you to Jeremy, who will tell you a little bit more about his story, and about how the Mindful Return Paternity Leave course can help you, new dad, navigate the transition to working parenthood.

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When the day for me to become a father finally arrived, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to take a fairly substantial paternity leave.  I could not have understood then, how valuable this time would be.  It is something I still reflect back on, because it was the single biggest transition of my life.

Of course, I was somewhat clueless when it came to my newborn daughter.  That was to be expected as a first time parent.  But the truth is, I was pretty clueless about paternity leave too.

The anxiety around taking leave hit me just before it began.  Things I hadn’t worried about before, like negative reactions at the office and long term career impacts, were suddenly standing right in front of me.  As I have come to discover in the time since, I am not the only one who struggles with these fears.

I have also discovered that there is a HUGE difference between taking a paternity leave, and taking a successful paternity leave.  Candidly, the first time around, I made tons of mistakes.  I was distracted by work.  I hadn’t prepared correctly.  And I couldn’t fight the urge to be productive.  Just to name a few of my paternity leave shortcomings.  It was an incredible experience, but walking away from that time with my family, I couldn’t help thinking… “Could I have been there more for my wife?  Should I have done things differently when leaving the office?  Was I really there mentally to fully connect with my daughter?”

Fast forward just two short years, and I was determined not to make the same mistakes twice.  When my son was born in June of 2017, I knew that I needed to be more proactive in planning a successful paternity leave.  I scoured the Internet for resources for dads and came up with few, if any, containing practical advice on taking paternity leave.  At first I was disheartened.  But then I came to the realization that if those resources don’t already exist, maybe I should create some.

As I set out to create my own online resource guide, I was lucky enough to come across Lori and the tour de force that is Mindful Return.  It was a perfect match for me to share what I have uncovered about paternity leave.  Lori and I share a common vision that parental leave isn’t just some days set aside from work.  It really is about creating the foundation for a new life in your most important role as a parent.

As Lori mentioned, the paternity leave landscape is undergoing dramatic change for the better.  Fortunately, there is a burgeoning recognition of the tremendous benefits, which accompany a father’s involvement.  There is also a recognition that levels of long-term involvement, many years down the line, are closely linked with what is done in those first few months.  The routines and connections established at the beginning are irreplaceable down the road.

The trouble – as I discovered first hand – is that simply changing company policies to allow for paternity leave is really only half the battle.   Ultimately, for this profound shift to reach its incredible potential, we need to also help new fathers adapt and grow into their role.  This includes providing encouragement and concrete advice, something lacking in many HR departments today.  It also means building communities where dads can discuss the “challenging” aspects of transitioning to fatherhood.

The Mindful Return Paternity Leave Course seeks to do just that.  With Lori’s course-creation guidance, and my firsthand experience navigating multiple paternity leaves, we have created material to make your paternity leave an optimal experience.  We cover everything from logistics and preparation, to conquering anxiety and strengthening relationships.  As you return back to work, we even explore how to make your paternity leave work for you.  By demonstrating leadership and growing your team, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get credit for your well-planned leave.

If you are considering taking paternity leave, are on leave now, or are even newly back at work, this course has something tremendous to offer you.  And as perceptions about the roles of fatherhood continue to evolve, it is up to us dads to really step up to the plate.

Learn more about the 4-week Mindful Return Paternity Leave course and register for Part I (the first week about planning your leave) here!  Any questions?  Reach out to Jeremy Smith at jeremy@mindfulreturn.com or Lori Mihalich-Levin at lori@mindfulreturn.com.

Jeremy T. Smith, MBA, guides new dads to an optimized and valuable paternity leave.  He is the co-creator and moderator of the Mindful Return Paternity Leave E-Course and operates PaternityLeavePioneer.com, an advice website for dads considering taking paternity leave.  Jeremy is a father of two incredible (and energetic) kids, ages 3 and 1.   He resides in Delaware and works in corporate finance for Bank of America.

Are you a new mom reading this?  Want to join an authentic, supportive community of new working mamas heading back to work around the same time you are?  Join the next session of Mindful Return.

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