The Evils of Extended Maternity Leave

I just read an article by Kay Hymowitz on Time.com about how extended maternity leave may put women at a disadvantage in the workplace.  I’m not mad at Ms. Hymowitz because she’s just reporting the facts but I am left with a little bit of a “meh, I could have told you that” reaction.

Do I wish that an employee – male or female – could take a year off of work without having the negative side effects mentioned in the article?  We’ll yes, it’d be great if I was gone for the next twelve months and my skills didn’t get rusty, my social networks stayed fresh, I’d be able to come back with the same or higher pay and that my longer term career potential wasn’t affected.  But I believe it’s a little unrealistic to think that one or more of those wouldn’t be affected by my choice to exit the workplace for a while.

Let’s flip the script a bit.  Let’s say Joe in the cubicle next to you made a decision to serve in the military.  His time away from work to serve his country is protected by law.  Would you expect him to be sent on required training for a year and then think he’d come right back to work without missing a beat?  Might he have forgotten a bit about the company’s complex accounting system, could the advocates he had previously in the organization moved on without him, could that affect his rate of pay increases for the next few years while he caught up?  It’s highly likely one or more of these things would happen.  Even though that stinks, we’d support him through this transition back to the workplace and respect his service to our country.

I believe that sustaining the human race through pro-creation is also a noble cause.  And here’s the upside that I think we forget.  Why did I take the time off in the first place?  TO HAVE A BABY!  That trumps a few bucks more an hour, don’t you think?

I’m afraid that people (ok, specifically business leaders and policymakers) in the U.S. read about extended leaves in other parts of the world and say “See, our twelve week maternity leave policies are better than other countries because we get a woman back to work sooner, therefore improving her chances of getting back on the career track more quickly.”  Uh, ok.  Lame.

So, all that to say, I will still advocate for improvements in maternity leave offerings around the world and I hope you join with me in that work.  Check out my other blog posts that show just how far behind we are in the U.S. in regard to our offer for working mothers-to-be.  Then write a letter or change a diaper.

Like Learning to Ride a Bike

This Labor Day weekend has been stressful.  Not because I had to work while everyone was off sunbathing by the lake but because I was off and decided to tackle a project that I really didn’t want to do.

That project?  Re-teaching my 8 year old son how to ride his bike.   Sounds easy because re-teaching should just take a gentle nudge, an encouraging word or a trip down memory lane to recollect about how he rode his bike last summer.  As a matter of fact, he rode his bike just two weeks ago.  But, two weeks ago he also fell off his bike (in the grass so don’t shed too many tears) and that led to the drama that we have experienced over the holiday.

Read moreLike Learning to Ride a Bike

When to Tell the Boss…Again

I just visited Corporette.com and they’ve recently written a post about when you should announce your pregnancy at work.

The comments are great and I’d recommend you take a read to get a good understanding of all the ins and outs that other women have faced when deciding when to share their news.

Personally, I still side with the “earlier the better” camp because I just like to have the air clear.  But I completely understand if anyone else lands in a different spot.

P.S.  While you’re at Corporette.com check out this great post on wearing button down shirts.  If you are a mom who is bursting at the seams, you’ll definitely appreciate their advice!

Elephant in the Maternity Ward

Ok, I’m just going to have to blog about it.  Everyone else is making a big hub-bub and since I think I am the only blogger in the US blogging about maternity leave,  it would be really weird for me not to take this opportunity to say something.  It’s like the elephant in the maternity ward.

What is the IT I’m talking about?  We’ll, the IT, I mean, SHE is Marissa Mayer, the new Yahoo CEO.   Her quote heard ’round the world goes a little something like this.

“My maternity leave will be a few weeks long, and I’ll work throughout it.”

Read moreElephant in the Maternity Ward

Summer Schedule’s Got Me Scattered

Hey working moms out there!  It’s been a lllloooooonnnnngggg time since I’ve posted on the blog.  Why?  No real valid excuse except that I’m all off kilter because we’ve done end of school, vacation and now we’re in the midst of summer camp.

End of school brings all sorts of meetings, awards ceremonies, parties and general chaos.   Vacation I can’t complain about because it’s wonderful!  Summer camp really throws me off my game.   Luckily I work a reduced work schedule so I’m still at work the same amount of hours for the week, but, the later start to summer camp pushes our day later, our dinner later, and our bedtimes later.  My son seems to adjust well since he can sleep a little later but for mom, it’s more time on the road driving both to and from school.

So that’s my bit of venting and to put it all into perspective, I only have one child!  I know a mom of six who has been doing summers for years so I shouldn’t be complaining.  But, I am admitting to you all now that I’m already stressing about how we’ll handle next summer.  We’ve got a good gig now because my son can go to the summer camp at his school but as he gets older he’ll want to go to the cool astronaut camp that only operates from 8:15 am – 1:13 pm or the underwater explorer experience at the aquarium that is Tuesday, Thursdays and third Saturdays from 2:12 pm – 4:44 pm.  Who can drive their kids back and forth with these crazy camp hours?  I’m so glad my work allows for me to adjust my schedule but it still has me tweaked out.

I’m thinking about hiring a college student next summer to drive him to camps and stay at home with him in between but that’s going to be a chunk of change.  I’m curious as to what other working moms do for summer kid care, so weigh in and let me know how you manage it all.

 

Why Women Don’t Return After Maternity Leave

Helen Letchfieldco-founder of Parenting for Professionals Ltd in the UK, which enables companies to support new and existing parents at work through coaching,  wrote a great article at TrainingJournal.com  about the reasons why women leave the workforce after maternity leave.   Here’s a bit of what Helen had to say:

Returning to work after maternity leave is one of the biggest changes a female employee will ever have to make.  Yet in many organisations, this life-changing event remains unsupported.  Very typically, women returners struggle in silence, not wanting to appear ‘needy’ by asking for help.

Read moreWhy Women Don’t Return After Maternity Leave

Support Pregnant Workers – Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

There was big news last week but you probably missed it.  With all the focus and controversy about the Time breastfeeding cover, there was little attention to the announcement about an issue that we can all agree on.  Last Tuesday it was announced that legislation has been proposed that would protect women who need accommodation in the workplace while they are pregnant.  Today women are being discriminated against when they ask for accommodations like carrying a water bottle to stay hydrated or using a stool at their work station instead of standing through their entire shift.

Bonnie Rochman does a great job explaining the proposed act in her Time post.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Should Expectant Women Be Accommodated in the Workplace? 

There are several organizations on board in support of the legislation and I hope you join me in rallying support as well.  Since it was just announced last week there aren’t yet a lot of details on how working moms can get involved, but I will keep you posted here.  In the meantime, read up on the proposed legislation and contact your Congressmen and Congresswomen to ask for their support.  Don’t know who your representative(s) are?  Click here and enter your zip code.

Spread the word and get others involved!  Let’s support pregnant workers!

Look Mom! No Hands! Breastpump Bra

Once again Amazon.com amazes me!  Here’s another case of something looking or sounding totally ridiculous but actually turning out to be something you absolutely must have as a new mom.   Hands-free breastpumping bras weren’t around when I was nursing.  Without a laptop or smartphone that I absolutely couldn’t put down it wasn’t too much of a problem for me to spend my 30 minutes in the lactation room with one hand free flipping through a Working Mother magazine from 1983 while the other hand held the containers.

Read moreLook Mom! No Hands! Breastpump Bra

The Four Rules of Maternity Leave

Julie Steinberg wrote a nice article that encapsulated the four rules you need to remember about your maternity leave.  I’ve linked to the article at the end of this post.  I wanted to expand a bit on her rules and ask you all if you’d add any more rules to the list.

1.  Start the conversation early

I was glad to see that the women Julie referred to in the article recommended letting managers know sooner than later.   The 12 week mark seems to be a good time to let people know.  You’d want to share the news sooner if you are having an especially tough time with morning sickness or you are high risk and may need accommodations during your pregnancy.  

Read moreThe Four Rules of Maternity Leave

Who is Sophie?

Who is Sophie and why do does my baby need her?

If reviewers on Amazon are a gauge of whether or not a product is worthy to purchase, go immediately and order up a Sophie!  Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether

Really?  A rubber giraffe gets 4 stars out of 5 after receiving 1,858 reviews and I start to wonder why.

Of course she’s super cute and who doesn’t need something super cute for their baby.  But according to parents who have a Sophie (or three) at home, it’s the best thing since sliced bread mother’s milk.

Read moreWho is Sophie?

When Work and Family Collide – Missing the Big School Event

I really love Fast Company magazine and I was perusing their site the other day and stumbled upon this oldie but goodie.  Funny to think that 2007 is an oldie but in our world it’s so five years ago! But the concept of the article was timeless.  Here’s the scenario:  Cali Williams Yost, the author and well known expert on worklife issues, had been invited to a national gathering of flexibility experts.  Sounds awesome right?  Just the group to affect change in the world!

Read moreWhen Work and Family Collide – Missing the Big School Event

Doctor Visits and Work – Planning for Pregnancy Care

“Will my boss let me off to go to my doctor’s appointments?” is a common question that I’ve heard from women newly pregnant who are actively involved in the workforce. If you consider that most pregnant women have between ten and 15 prenatal visits over the course of nine months, it’s understandable that this would be a concern.

To answer the question of whether or not your employer will let you off of work, I’ll answer with the “spirit” and then the” letter” of the law. From a “spirit” perspective, most employers will be understanding and as long as you aren’t pulling a fast one with your appointments, they will be accommodating. They will allow for the time off either from sick time allocation through FMLA or if you prefer, from your vacation allotment.

Read moreDoctor Visits and Work – Planning for Pregnancy Care

Plan the Work and Work the Plan – Maternity Leave Planning

So what’s your plan?  If you answer stops at “have a baby” then you’ve got a little bit of thinkin’ to do!  As mind-consuming and stressful as it is for parents-to-be to consider how in the heck they’re going to care for this precious little one, considerations about work can fall to the wayside.  If you’re currently employed and soon to be taking maternity leave, you should know that as happy as your boss and co-workers may be for you, they’re also concerned about how all the work is going to get done.

Read morePlan the Work and Work the Plan – Maternity Leave Planning