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Congrats if you're expecting! Things are about to change in a major way, especially if you are a first-time parent. And if you are employed, you will most likely be looking into maternity or paternity leave once the baby arrives. Bonding time, recuperation, feedings, diaper duty, and so on will fill your days and keep you up at night. But before you plan your leave, there are some things you should know. Let's delve in to five parental leave concerns so you are well-prepared and squared away leaving you better able to concentrate on your newest family member.

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You Probably Won't Get Paid

Some people are lucky to work for a company that pays them while they are out on parental leave, but this isn't the norm. According to Fairygodboss, "American women working in the U.S. who take leave are not guaranteed any benefit payments from the federal government. In fact, most receive no pay during their leave and instead rely on federal parental leave law (Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA) to protect their job for up to 12 weeks."

That said, everything is usually up for discussion. Parents suggests, "You may have to negotiate your way to a plan you and your employer can both agree on that will allow you the time off you need to physically and emotionally be ready to return to work without putting your family under financial strain."

Another option? Nolo recommends exercising your "right to use your accrued vacation or sick pay during your FMLA leave, as long as you meet the other requirements of your employer's policies."

It's Not Just for Women Who Have Recently Given Birth

When we think of taking time off for a new baby, for the most part, new moms come to mind first. But mothers and fathers reserve the right to partake in FMLA, as "family" is what this act is all about. Real Simple points out, "You don't have to be pregnant to qualify either: this applies to both mothers and fathers and can be used for those who are adopting or must take care for a sick relative."

Fairygodboss adds, "Parents – both men and women – are eligible for this leave within one year of welcoming a new child."

Times have changed over the decades, and families are created and function in all sorts of ways today. Naturally, a woman who recently gave birth has additional challenges, but caring for an infant takes lots of work, something all new parents will face – FMLA making it possible for either parent (or both) to partake in.

You Can Stagger Your Leave

The 12 weeks you are entitled to doesn't have to be used up in one stretch. You can take these weeks throughout the 12-month period you work out with your employer. According to The Bump, "If you have pregnancy complications, you might want or need to take some time off before baby arrives. The rest can be taken anytime over the 12-month period."

Real Simple adds, "You can take intermittent leave in which you leave for a while, return, and then take more leave. You can even work part-time until you've taken the equivalent of 12 weeks off."

Staggering your leave can be useful by "trading off" with your partner if they can take leave too. You'll also be back and forth at work, so you can stay in the loop and on top of projects without being absent for huge chunks of time.

You are Not Necessarily Entitled to Leave

But what about FMLA? See, that all depends on how long you have been employed at your current job and how many people work for the company. Too little time put in at a company means they aren't obligated to give you leave. As Real Simple explains, "Your employer doesn't have to give you family leave if you've worked at the company for under a year, or if you've worked fewer than 1,250 hours during that year. A company is also exempt if it has fewer than 50 employees."

Before you regret working for that small start-up, note, "You may still be entitled to a leave, albeit a shorter one, under the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. That law, which covers companies with 15 or more workers, requires employers to treat pregnant employees the same as any other disabled worker," as per Parents.

You'll Need to Get Yourself Ready for Return

After up to 12 weeks away from work, you're going to be more skilled at parenting, but a bit rusty when it comes to work. You've been busy with baby but the "show must go on," and your co-workers have been at it in your absence. To pick up where you left off, you'll need to prepare yourself for the challenge.

The founder of AaronB Fitness, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer for over 17 years has important advice. "You should realize that gearing up mentally and physically to return to the office after a long stay at home with the baby is challenging. But you can prepare for it. You've probably lined up help to look after the baby once you return to the office. Take advantage of that a week or two sooner to allow you to get some physical activity back into your routine, such as a morning walk or jog, or a class at the gym. And try to get on a regular bedtime/wake-time schedule that will match your schedule when you're back to work. Do those two things ahead of time and you'll hit the ground running when you return to the office."

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Your leave will give you those much-needed initial weeks with your new child. Learn what your company's policies are, what you are able to manage for your family, and how you will transition during this process. Welcome to the family!

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.