Paid Family Leave
I'm in the beginning of two weeks off to spend 'bonding' time with Charlie as Abby goes back to work. It's Paid Family Leave, and after posting a quick 'status' about that on Facebook, I realized that not many folks are aware of this huge benefit that works for both mothers and fathers.
It's a California initiative, but I suspect other states provide it. Essentially, for mothers it's available after the SDI runs out (generally speaking, six or eight weeks after the birth) and offers pay for time to spend with your child. Fathers can take similar time for bonding - that's the official term, as well as the appropriate one - up to six weeks, anytime during the first year.
That six weeks don't have to be consecutive, so I'm taking two weeks now, another few weeks at the end of the year and possibly the remainder before Charlie's first birthday. Why? Because the state pays for it - and I work for a really great company that allows me to take the time off.
It's really been great so far in these first few days - both for Abby, who has been able to get out of the house and have some alone time, and also for me, since I have had one on one time with my daughter for really the first time since she's been born. She's hilarious and is starting to smile a LOT, which is fairly awesome.
I'm also wondering just how many nuts she has stored up for winter in those cheeks.
In any case, if you are a recent father or mother and live in California, you should go to http://www.edd.ca.gov/ and participate. It's not full pay, but a flat amount that caps out, similar to Unemployment, etc. I definitely recommend it, and if it's a benefit our state provides, that means we're paying for it one way or another. (Another thing I just learned - the income from the benefit isn't eligible for state tax, which is excellent.)
So go for it.