Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Planning Your Maternity Leave

From Today's Parent
You've made it through the first trimester of your pregnancy and feel halfway human at work again. But now it's time to think about your maternity leave! It may still be several months away, but experts say that planning in advance is the smartest thing you can do. Recently we asked some of our ANM moms what they wish they had known ahead of time about maternity leave.

Prepare Financially

Maybe you have been putting away part of every paycheck to prepare. Or perhaps you are just
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living from paycheck to paycheck. The reality is that your finances WILL change when you add a new member to your family. Kimberly Rotter examines this issue pretty thoroughly in this post on the Credit Card Insider Blog.

One of our moms suggested that you save all your vacation and personal time so you can add weeks to the 6/8 weeks your employer gives you.

Prepare Professionally

If your job is important to you, you need to make sure that you have all your bases covered before returning to work. Some of our moms found that their employer considered their maternity leave permanent. They said that it was hard to get back into the swing of things at work. If you are in a position of responsibility, it will be important for you to make sure that you have properly trained your replacement and that everyone on your team will respect and respond properly to that person. 

One mom suggested that you "get all the info on paperwork from HR well in advance. Work with your boss to make sure you don't leave things in a mess (have someone who knows what you were working on so they can cover.) Start tying up loose ends as your due date gets closer. Keep your boss informed on how long you will be out." She recommended reminding your boss, "I will be out in about X weeks. Is there anything you need before I go...I'll be back 12 weeks afterward."  

If you are due for a performance evaluation while you will be on leave, be sure to communicate with your boss about that. One of our moms noted that her employer conducted her performance review while she was on leave.

If you are a teacher, you will need to make sure that your students will be covering the material they need to cover and getting the instruction they need. Careful planning will help significantly. However, one of our moms said, "Relax! Life will go on without you in the classroom for a few weeks."

Prepare Emotionally

Several of our moms mentioned feeling lonely and isolated when they were on maternity leave. One mom suggested that you should find things to do or line up visits with people. However, another mom offered the suggestion that you may actually need to rest more and limit visitors! One excellent suggestion was to "Let other people help when they offer...even if it's just doing your dishes." Other great advice included, "Be sure to start pumping early." (Usually we recommend beginning to pump daily after the first feed each morning once your supply is established.) Be sure to introduce a bottle when baby is about a month old.

Some moms found that they were more than ready to return to work when their leave ended. One
mom said, "It is okay to want to go back to work. Some people aren't meant to stay home." Another mom added, "13 weeks was enough for me. I was ready to have adult time again!" Don't feel guilty if you are eager to get back to work. One mom recalled, "I used to feel bad for loving my work and not wanting to stay hom." Guilt takes way too much energy! Don't do that to yourself!

On the other hand, some moms really struggle with the idea of returning to work. One mom remembers, "I took 16 weeks of maternity leave thinking it would be enough. I wish someone had told me not to bother with maternity leave and just go ahead and follow my instinct and quit right then. Haha! I took that leave, went back to work, then immediately put in my notice to quit after almost 9 years...and never looked back!"  Another mom concurred, "Now I couldn't imagine going back to work just to leave my baby with someone else!"

You may decide that you really would like to stay home, but just don't know how to swing it. This blog has some pretty creative ideas for ways that you can boost your family's finances if you do decide to stay home after baby comes. Of course I am passionate about helping moms stay home by helping them save money and make money. I would be happy to talk with you about it.

Remember, 9 months will go by faster than you can imagine. Regardless of what you plan to do, make sure you do have a plan!!

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