For expectant parents, planning parental leave makes a huge difference. The arrival of a child brings a whole new set of responsibilities, but a little coordination between parents goes a long way. Here are a few things for expectant parents to focus on as they prepare for parental leave together.

Get clarity on parental leave policies

Some employers offer some paid time off while others don’t. While federal law states employers with 50 or more employees must offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave to mothers of newborn or adopted children, state laws on parental leave vary, as do employer policies. The first thing for expectant parents to do is understand how much family leave is available to them and whether it is paid. Refer to the organization’s leave policy documents or talk to human resources.

Get life insurance

Most parents-to-be don’t have financial products on their mind while anticipating the birth of their child. However, life insurance provides a way to protect children if one or both parents pass on unexpectedly. New parents on a budget, often buying their first policies, might opt for term life insurance. A 20-year term life insurance policy, for example, can cover a parent until their kids are grown up and more independent.

Coordinate leave schedules

All parents have their own approaches to scheduling parental leave. Some prefer to overlap so they can spend time navigating parenthood together. Others prefer a staggered approach where, first, one parent remains at home (perhaps during the final weeks of pregnancy and the initial postpartum period). After their leave ends, the other parent begins theirs and stays home with the baby while the other returns to work. Parents-to-be may find themselves going back and forth over all the possibilities. The job and employer also play an important role – some employers are more flexible about parental leave than others.

It’s important for spouses to consider all these factors when they’re deciding how to use their parental leave. Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach – spouses can discuss what works best for them and plan accordingly.

Get advice from other parents at work

Colleagues who have had their own kids can offer plenty of helpful information when it comes to navigating parental leave. They can explain how much flexibility the organization offers parents-to-be when it comes to family leave and what issues may arise. They may also be able to provide insights on any benefits that the company offers new parents, such as daycare subsidies. Colleagues who have kids can also offer insights on maintaining a good work-life balance, and suggest ways to help prevent fatigue and burnout.

Fulfill professional obligations

Managers tend to feel more confident about a colleague’s absence when they know that their team is well-prepared. This is why anyone considering parental leave should inform their manager early on (within reason) and work to create a handover document or instructions for the team to refer to during their absence. Employees requesting parental leave can offer to train a temporary employee and clarify any questions and concerns the team may have beforehand.

Source: Northwestern Mutual