Help with planning/proposals and options for Maternity Leave!
April 8, 2013 11:34 AM   Subscribe

So, Happy news: Pregnant! Dilemma: Maternity Leave options & planning

I have a wonderful and unique position in my organization, and am the first (and only) individual to hold this position. I have built the job from the ground up, according to the
mandate of our department and also around my own skills, interests and abilities.

But - I do work alone. No one to 'cover', even in a rudimentary way (well- aside from message taking) whilst I am gone.

While I have no intention of leaving, or being away for a VERY extended period of time, I do plan on taking some time after the little one is born.

My *ideal* (possibly pipe dream) situation would be to take 2.5-3mos off, and then arrange a .7 return for a few months more - possibly even with a take-baby-to-work option - before returning full time.

I have, so far, had a difficult time finding any precedents/accounts of unique situations when it comes to maternity leave! Any insights, suggestions or personal experiences mefites have to share would be greatly appreciated - and to be clear, any perspective is valuable to me (worker, employer, SAHP, WAHP or what have you)

Pertinent information:
-I am categorized as a Full-time, 'Out of Scope' Employee for an organization that is VERY family oriented
-my job is research and communication based - I work solo (sometimes with volounteers onspecial projects) and meet by appointment, so potentially ok for on-the-job baby
-I live in Alberta, Canada
-I have not yet contacted my HR Department - I want to go in with as much information and as much of a 'proposal' as I can!
posted by miss_scarlett to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How big is your company? My (small) company offered (without it being requested) for the office manager to work short days and only 4 days a week in order to ensure she wouldn't be overwhelmed and eventually quit -- better to have her 25 hours than 0 (usual week is 35). The children come to work only rarely. This is a small company in Quebec. It's been entirely unproblematic.
posted by jeather at 11:43 AM on April 8, 2013


With both my kids, I think I took 6 weeks off completely & then worked half-time for the next 3-4 months. Most of that was telecommuting from home, but I went in for meetings about once a week. I also left my email/phone number with the office so that they could contact me if something urgent came up during those first 6 weeks.
posted by belladonna at 12:01 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you built your job from the ground up, then surely you can build your maternity leave the way you want it! Especially if they are family oriented as you say, they should be open to your wishes.
posted by katypickle at 12:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's a thought, how about a job share? You can hire and train the person before you go out on Maternity Leave (as a temp) with the understaning that the job is full-time while you are out, then part-time when you return. With any luck, you can find another pregnant person, who is about 3-4 months out from your due date. You'll have plenty of time to train the person, they can cover you full-time while you're out, then you can go part-time while she goes out, then you can both share the job in the future!

(Okay, there's parts of it that get bumpy, but maybe a student or something?)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:48 PM on April 8, 2013

If you want to be truly out of the office and disconnected, I don't see any way around training someone to cover for you while you're gone. You could try to plan in advance as much as possible to try to clear the decks so anything new coming in can wait until your return, but it seems unlikely that nothing would come up.

If you're willing to remain connected, you could say that for the first two weeks you will be completely out and unavailable except for maybe a few brief emails if necessary, and then ramp up your availability over time before you actually return to the office.

And congratulations!
posted by chickenmagazine at 1:50 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

My situation was not as unique as yours but a key part of my strategy was to promote an assistant to take on 25% of my job (the parts easiest to delegate), get extra clerical help to cover what the assistant could no longer do and I came back to a 75% position. (I also worked 7:30-12:30 four days and 7:30-6:00 once a week so it felt like a half time job with added benefit that no one expected me to be there the one afternoon so there were very few interruptions.)

Two warnings - be prepared for the possibility that you might need a longer leave than planned due to complications in the pregnancy or birth and second taking a child to work is extremely hard unless you have a job where you can drop everything and tend to the child whenever and as often as needed. personally I loved going off to work and being baby-free for five hours and was hoping to see the little tyke when I got home - really helped my sanity to have that grownup time to focus on work.
posted by metahawk at 5:30 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another suggestion - my husband took a one month leave when I first went back to work. Made it much easier for me to leave the baby at home, delayed start of child care and most importantly gave my husband a chance to be the primary parent which was really good for all of three of us.
posted by metahawk at 5:32 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have a non-unique work position. Usual leave is 3 months, but I negotiated 6 (and am not sure I could have functioned at 3) and then came back half time, gradually ramping up as we added a nanny to our childcare rotation and as parenting got easier. Can't imagine trying to do my job with a kid at work, mostly because I need to be able to concentrate for long stretches, while even a docile baby needs attention every few minutes.

Some of this will be hard to plan out. (1) You don't know how your recovery will be -- did you end up with a c-section? is your brain just taking a while to come back? etc. (2) You don't know what baby you will have -- one that sleeps like a log for two hours and is awake for three, all day, or one that takes a 45 min cat-nap every two hours, one that never sleeps and mostly whines, one that doesn't sleep through the night until a year of age, meaning that you're a walking zombie version of yourself. Kids come with their own programming, and some of the versions are a lot easier to work around than others. Have some ideas of what you'd like to try and how flexible your workplace can be, and then plan to adjust once you've been in the trenches. (Actually, that's about the only workable approach to parenthood as a whole; nothing is ever as you imagine it.)

Whatever you do, don't make your plan contingent on being available by phone during the first month or two that you're out. Those are the survival weeks, and both parents are likely to be working on fumes at all times, such that just remembering to eat regularly sometimes requires a bell. You're not going to care about your corporate client or even your dearly loved coworkder. By three months, you may feel like your old self again, or only 50% of your old self, or who knows. But I guarantee that at 3 weeks you'll be convinced that the species should never have lasted this long and unclear whether you'll make it to three months. (You will, but don't ask much more of yourself than that.)

Anyway, not trying to scare you, just to give some perspective. I wouldn't try to shave down from 3 months; I would try to come back part-time for a stretch if possible; but I would assume that your workplace is going to have to do mostly without you for 3-6 months, and make whatever training and staffing arrangements are necessary to make that possible. Heck, you might find you like a slightly smaller job description when you return, as it gives you more breathing space for the next crisis at home.
posted by acm at 7:14 AM on April 9, 2013

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