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Ponderings on maternity leave

When I took maternity leave with both the girls it was very clear cut that I would not be taking a moment more than 26 weeks in total.  If you take 26 weeks or less you get your own job back, if you take a second more they can give you an ‘equivalent’ job – unfortunately for at least one other woman I knew at the bank that had meant a job that was sort of the same but also involved travelling away from home for a minimum of 3 days a week…

And so I went back full time bang on 26 weeks each time, which if you consider I started maternity leave at 37 and 36 weeks with them meant I was back when they were roughly 5 months

Horribly tiny when you think about it, especially since I was breastfeeding them exclusively

I had always thought that if we were lucky enough to have a third I would try and take a longer leave – the girls would be older and this would be a chance to spend some time with them and the new baby

It would also be a chance to step away from work and working and to give me a chance to consider what direction my career should take, what other opportunities there are out there and perhaps to give me a chance to explore something that isn’t the rat race – I’ve been working for 16 years, since a month after I graduated from university and since 2000 I have been stuck on the City treadmill, perhaps if I could step back I could see another path out there?

Unfortunately it isn’t to be

The maternity package at work is better than it used to be but financially it falls off a cliff after 16 weeks and, with just me earning at the moment, there is a limit to how long we can make ends meet if I am not earning.  Ideally we’d have saved up to give ourselves some wriggle room but we’ve had less than 8 months since we discovered this lovely surprise arrival was coming and there’s a limit to what you can save when you don’t have a lot of headroom from month to month

It is what it is

There was a time when even considering returning to work made me cry, I’ve moved on from that – there’s nothing I can do about it so I just have to embrace what it is and try and make the best of it

If I had been told, in the ordinary course of things, that I would get nearly 5 months off there is a LONG list of things I’d want to do – obviously having a small baby is going to slightly complicate that

Deep down I know that the first 6 weeks will be baby slavery, the next 6 weeks a bit better and then hopefully life will start to stabilise.  Just in time for me to go back to work! *hollow laugh*

It may be a touch Polly Anna but I do want to try and embrace these few months as a family together, I do want to feel as if I have done some things I wouldn’t have if I was working, I do want to make this time a small oasis I can look back on rather than just focusing on it being shorter than I would like – lots of baby cuddles and cake are a must, naturally but I’ve seen this lovely sounding book about a parent and child that decided to read together every night for 100 nights, that’s the sort of thing I want to do

Any suggestions?

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2 comments to Ponderings on maternity leave

  • How about saying yes to the girls as much as possible (not that I’m sure you don’t already, but hear me out). Now I have a bit more time to spend with my boys, if they ask to go to the beach and it’s not raining, we go. If they ask to swimming and we have no other commitments, I say yes. If they ask for a family movie night, I say yes. If they ask to get the glitter and glue out, I (grit my teeth and) say yes. I used to always find excuses not to do these things (except for the beach – that was impossible where we used to live!). Life just seemed too busy to deal with spontaneous swimming trips or unplanned glitter explosions. But now it’s my rule to say yes to family activities and to be spontaneous as much as possible 🙂 A small baby might make the spontaneous bit tricky, but they do say no.3 just fits in with the rest of the family, so you never know! xx

    • Hannah Brewer

      That’s a lovely idea – there’s usually so much going on that it is so easy to say ‘5 minutes first’ – embrace spontaneity!

      I think I can see a plan forming

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