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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday

Linking to Work, Wife,Mom...Life! for Working Mommy Wednesday. For this week the discussion is: Maternity Leave - How long did you take? Were you ready to come back? How did you survive/manage? Tips for new moms returning to work?

I've written about the parts of my job that I really love: travel, working on great toys, developing toys for awesome companies, the benefit of working from home when I need to, I have insurance coverage for my entire family but the maternity leave is horrid - and I don't rest the blame on my company, they are only following Florida law which provides 3 months of unpaid maternity leave. My company allows us to combine sick leave with unused vacation days which is a total of 4 weeks of off time for me.

I'm the main income earner for my family so "unpaid maternity leave" means a major hit to our finances.

With my daughter I took off 5 weeks (I took no income for the 5th week); during that time husband and I decided it was best for our family that he work weekends and stay home with Charlotte Mon-Fri. Being a dog trainer, he made the most money in commissions on weekends anyway. It was easier going back to work knowing that he was home with Charlotte full time but this arrangement meant we didn't get any days off together until nationally recognized holiday's - which are 5, when they don't fall on weekends.

I remember feeling disoriented from going back to work so soon. I remember I had to take a 3 hour drive to Orlando for a business trip in the first week back and I drove everyone crazy with stops every 3 hours (between driving and meetings) for breast pumping. I laugh about that now, I did warn them, they still wanted me to come.

Clients were very upset with my boss for making me coming back to work so soon. I got emails and phone calls from most of our clients expressing outrage. It was difficult to explain that it was my decision due to unpaid maternity leave. In this country we don't have paid maternity leave but for 5 states California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — and Puerto Rico require employers to have temporary disability programs.

My suggestion for couples who are starting a family -
A. Build a nest egg big enough to cover the number of weeks you want to be out of work
B. Move to the above 5 states during your family building years.

With Samuel, I will take 4 weeks. We already have a system in place with husband staying at home and now I get to work Friday's from home so I only need to be in the office 4 days. For the first month back I will probably spend most of it working from home, we'll see how it goes. Fortunately my office is only 15 minutes away so I can pop back and forth as needed.

My chief source of comfort is the flexibility to breast pump as often as needed, work from home, flexible hours and have my husband as the stay at home dad.

Is it ideal? No, but we are making the best of it.


kt moxie said...

Doesn't the US maternity system SUCK!!! Anyway... Yes, I had some of my European coworkers (I'm on conference calls all the time) asking "Why are you back??? Didn't you just have a baby???" Yep. No more leave for me!

crazywildberry said...

Ok, you've given kudos for us stay-at-home moms. Here's mine to you:

I think you are doing a great job as a mother, even when it comes to the tough parts. You are doing what is best to provide a stable life for your kids. I know other mothers in your shoes that weren't able to do it. You see a need and you are filling it.

There are some days that I wish I had your life. Leaving the stress of the kids behind to tackle more mature issues. Then, again I know you wish, some days, to be in my shoes to get in more of the young years with the kids while they are still as such. It's a hard hand to be dealt either way and I think we are both making the best of what we've got.

Just treasure the time you have with them, as you have been. These year fade so quickly!

Jennie said...

Big kudos to you! I know how hard it is to go back to work, but I cannot imagine doing so at 5 (or 4) weeks! Wearing the "primary income earner", breastfeeding, working mom hats all at once cannot be easy.

I was "lucky" enough to take 8 weeks and 12 weeks with my kids, but it was all unpaid. I get 10 days of vacation. Period. And that was spent on dr visits before baby even arrived. And we took a hit while I was home, financially, but we learned to pinch our pennies before we had #3.

Just stopping by from Working Mommy Wed.

Unknown said...

Stopping in via WMW...and I agree the U.S. system of maternity/paternity leave is terrible. What a juggling act!

Michelle said...

How do you feel about leaving the babies at home with your husband when you return to work? Was it a huge adjustment for you when your daughter was born? I'm expecting baby #1 and my husband is unemployed so he will be a SAH Dad until he finds work. I know I will be very sad to leave my baby behind with my husband to play all day.

Diane said...

Wow 4/5 weeks! That's crazy. But its good you have the flexibility to pump, work from home, and those other options. I didn't get a paid maternity leave either but it was because I started the job only a about 6 months before I was due. Thankfully we saved a lot - I mean things got REALLY tight, but we managed.

Keely said...

I wasn't even ready to leave the HOUSE at 4 weeks, never mind go back to work. Here in Canada, we get a year, at 55% of our wage (some employers are generous and contribute a 'top up' if you commit to returning to them. Mine didn't). It's a blow to the finances for sure, but at least we get SOMETHING.

The SAHD situation is better than daycare though - at least you'll know he'll be in good hands!

R. Molder said...

@Michelle - I'm okay with leaving the babies with my husband. He does things differently than I would but there is no right or wrong way to take care of children. I've just learned to trust his instincts like he would trust mine if the situation were reversed.

As for playing all day - well he may get caught up on movies, TV and internet surfing while the baby is sleeping and they do sleep a lot for the first few months but once they get going he's going to be a circus entertainer!