Take 12 Maternity Leave Registry was borne from a desire to lend a helping hand to fellow mothers as well as to elevate the conversation surrounding a national dilemma. The online gift registry offers friends and family of expectant mothers a way
to gift money toward a maternity leave in replacement of or in addition to more traditional gift registries.
Plymouth resident Margi Scott first came up with the idea of the Take 12 when she was on leave with her twins in 2016. Even after managing to string together the coveted 12 weeks of leave, she struggled to come to terms with going back to work before she felt ready. That’s not to mention trying to budget the three months of unpaid leave granted by The Family and Medical Leave Act, which is the only system in place that mandates any sort of leave in the United States.
“I couldn’t articulate that what I really needed was time with my babies,” she says. “It’s impossible to bounce right back and get back to work.” That's when the idea of Take 12 began to take shape. The site was launched in January after Scott found that there were women publicly crowdfunding their own maternity leaves online. Scott was alarmed to see that, in their desperation, these women were subjecting themselves to criticism from strangers.
Scott says she wanted to provide a safe space for new mothers to raise funds for a paid leave without any stigma or shame. “There should be a space where women can feel empowered to do that,” she says. Scott emphasizes that profiles on Take 12 are intended for friends and family of the mothers who want to offer their support, but are open to the public as well. “I want people to be able to go and see what these women are going through and to read their stories.”
This is illustrated by Take 12’s specific verbiage on its users’ profiles – instead of giving $15, the gifter is giving ‘snuggles’, and instead of $50 it’s a ‘full night’s sleep’. These increments are crafted in order to give people context as to why their gift is important, and to tackle misconceptions many people have about maternity leave. “The time isn’t spent at the massage parlor, it’s time spent doing important things with your newborn.”
Emily Connelly decided to sign up for Take 12 when she learned about it from Scott, her neighbor. “This being my second pregnancy, I don’t have as great as a need for items or things as I did for my first child,” she says. Aside from the logical benefits of the registry, she was also excited to be part of the conversation around unpaid parental leave. “There are a lot of people who literally cannot afford to take the full 12 weeks,” she says.
In the future, Scott envisions connecting Take 12 with corporate partners who want to move toward a paid leave policy, but are hesitant to fully implement it. “I just think a lot of people don't know where to start,” she says. “Financially, it’s very difficult for a company to implement its own leave policy.” The U.S. remains the only developed nation without a mandated paid parental leave policy, so the risk falls to companies should they try to implement.
She says the root of the problem isn't insufficient company policies, but the national perception of parental leave. “This affects a lot of families for different reasons,” she says.