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.

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

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?

Baby Prep 101 – For Moms Who Want To Know It All

Do you like lists? Have you been researching all the experts and reading your “What to Expect” religiously? Well then Houston moms (and dads) mark your calendar for February 23rd because I have good news for you!

Premier Baby Planning regularly hosts their popular Baby Prep 101 class and if you’d like to know the scoop on how to prioritize the many things to do before baby arrives this class is great for you.  You will receive guidance on where to focus your time and energy when preparing for baby.  Topics will help you make informed decisions and include birth plans, prenatal services and classes to consider, nursery tips, choosing the right pediatrician, completing your maternity checklist, transitioning to return to work or stay home and so much more! Reducing stress is important for every pregnancy.  Being educated, informed and organized helps make your pregnancy more enjoyable. This class is for expecting parents and will help answer some of those questions that are keeping you up at night.

For more information and to register visit http://premierbabyplanning.com/

 

Flexible Work Arrangement – if you never ask, it will never happen

I just read a great post on NYTimes.com about how one mom achieves more balance (and efficiency) by starting work later and leaving for home earlier.  You may say, “Wow, where do I find that fantasy job?” or “Does she also commute to work on a unicorn?”  As unrealistic as it may seem, there are moms (and dads) out there who actually work a reduced work schedule.  It doesn’t happen for everyone but I do have to say that it will never happen for you if you don’t ask.

My son was four when I finally worked up the courage to let someone know that I’d like to reduce my hours to spend more time at home.  The proposition of him starting kindergarten and not being to pick him up from school and help with homework was really getting me down.  Luckily for me, on my new manager’s first day she asked about my career goals.  I figured it was now or never so I blurted out, “I’d like to reduce my hours.”  It seemed so bold and gutsy and it played in slow motion over and over in my head after I walked out of her office.  Had I just committed career suicide?

Read moreFlexible Work Arrangement – if you never ask, it will never happen

First Business Trip Away from Baby – A Tale from the Road

Before having a baby, I must admit that I liked traveling for work.  I got to stay in nice hotels, eat in fancy restaurants, ride in town cars like a celebrity and could stay up as late as I wanted.  My husband and I both traveled from time to time and we both enjoyed the change of scenery while we were away from home.  I even took a trip when I was big and pregnant and felt no shame in using both the spa facilities and the pillow concierge at The Benjamin when I was in New York.  (They really do have a pillow concierge – here’s their pillow menu http://www.thebenjamin.com/PillowMenu.aspx)

But then, here comes this bundle of perfection who is dependent on me for his every need.  Not only has it been difficult leaving him for the day while I’m at work but I can only imagine it will be torture to be almost 1000 miles away!  Going cold turkey would have been unbearable so I am so glad that my husband and I had already traveled without little one.  We are blessed to have grandparents within driving distance who are retired and can keep him for extended periods.  We had been to Hawaii when our son was 12 months old so surely leaving him again for just a few days wouldn’t be a problem?!? WRONG!

Read moreFirst Business Trip Away from Baby – A Tale from the Road