Post # 1
I am an American expat who is living in the UK. I recently started a new job in January, and will be taking off to have my first child at the end of May as the baby is due in June.
My original plan was to return after 6 months as my company is offering 8 weeks paid leave and I do not qualify for statutory leave pay because I only started working for the company in January. The UK allows for mothers to take a full year off which is amazing, and far more than what I would have gotten back in the US.
As I’ve been mentioning my plans to return in November, everyone in my office is telling me I should take as much time off as possible, come back in January or even in May of next year. They tell me I will regret not spending this time with my child, but I have a feeling I will be itching to get back into the office. I’m also worried about not making money for so long and being dependant on my husband. We have a lot in savings, but we have separate accounts and I would never expect him or ask him to give me money.
Does anyone have any insight on whether they wished they had taken more time off? Or alternately felt that they were ready to go back after 6 months? I love my job, have a great office and work in an exciting industry. Appreciate any insight!
Post # 2
froghop22 : I’m from Canada so we get a year as well. I was a workaholic who loved my job before my baby. Everyone told me the same thing and it’s so true. Life is busy with a baby! And you meet new friends at play groups, etc. I didn’t think about work at all while I was off and it kills me to be back at work now. They are little for such a short time and every month get more and more fun!
Post # 3
Do you need to decide now or can you let your company know later? I think you need to see how you feel once the baby is born. I am in the US and got 4 months paid leave, but could take more unpaid. At first I didn’t enjoy my mat leave and was kind of ready to go back to work, but at around the 3.5 month mark I started making mom friends and discovering classes etc. I decided I need more time. My DH and I discussed it and together we decided I will go back to work in May, when DS is 7 months. I am starting to feel ready now and I think I will be totally ready by then. A year would personally be way too long for me.
I find it a little weird that you talk about asking for money from your husband. You are having a kid together and while I totally understand maintaining some separate accounts (as I do too), you need to make this decision together as a family. In my case, my husband really values me spending this time with our baby, so he very much supported me taking an additional 3 months off even without pay.
Post # 4
The money thing is weird. Either you’re not working, or you’re paying for daycare, no?
Personally I think 6 months home would have been great. By that point usually they can sit up, eat some solids, breastfeeding is established, etc, and I’d feel a lot better about getting back to work. A lot of the kids on my birth board had a hard time transitioning to daycare if they had spent a whole year+ home with just mom (not saying every kid will of course).
Post # 5
I took 7.5 weeks off and I was ready to go back! That being said, I work 2 miles from home, work part time (about 20 hours a week split by three days) and have a great nanny who comes to us. So, if I were going back full time I think the story would be very different.
I learned from my (short) maternity leave that I would not make a good stay at home mom…I feel much more ready to parent after being able to talk to some adults and be a professional person!
Post # 6
I was off for 3 months and then laid off from 7-9 months. It was amazing when my son was older. We did lots of play dates and had a great time.
I would work out the money issue with your husband. Personally, “my husband’s money” is my money. You being at home is a benefit to your husband and you shouldn’t feel weird about getting what you need.
Post # 7
I wasn’t working at the time but I was in school and both times when both of my children were getting close to being born, I was accepted into nursing school. I turned both of the acceptances down because I knew I’d never get that first year back with my babies. In hindsight, I do not regret it one bit! I had the freedom to just be mom and focus on nursing and bonding with both of my children. I’m done with nursing school now and I’m so glad I never took that year away from them or myself. It was a precious time. Now we are planning for our third child and my husband and I have an agreement that I get to have the freedom to stay home if I need to after the baby comes. I don’t know if I will since I only work 3 shifts but I definitely need to have the freedom to stay home if I feel like I need that year with our last baby.
Post # 8
If you can manage it financially, 100% yes, take as much time as you possibly can. I took 10.5 weeks and it was the HARDEST thing ever. I wish I could take a full year. We couldn’t swing it financially but whatever you can manage, take it. This time goes by so very fast.
Post # 9
Take all of the time. The year flew by for me. So much changes and it’s such an adjustment. Enjoy time with your baby.
Post # 10
froghop22 : I haven’t been there yet (due in July), but I’m asking for extended leave so that I can have as much time as possible. I get 3 months FMLA and I’ve asked for 6 months (still waiting to hear if it’ll be approved). I’m operating under the assumption that I’ll want more time, but if I’m wrong and I’m itching to get back after 3 months I figured it’s easier to ask my boss “hey can I come back early?” instead of “just kidding…I’m not ready to come back next week, can I have more time?”
Post # 11
i took 15 weeks off. i was itching to go back to work as i needed a break. but i would have loved to be able to work part time. unfortunately we cant afford it.
Post # 12
froghop22 : fellow uk bee here and I believe you only need to tell your employer 8 weeks in advance when you want to come back so you can set time off and then see how you go and bump it a month at a time if you like as long as you give them enough notice.
Point 3 here…
Post # 13
I think it’s such a personal decision — I had to go back after only 12 weeks and I cried and hated it. My sister went back (earlier than she had to) at only 8 weeks becuase she couldn’t wait to get back to work! So you may not know how you feel until several months into your leave.
To answer your question, yes, I would have loved more time with my baby. It’s really hard dropping off a 3-month old baby with strangers for 8+ hours a day! And I was lucky–daycare is right across from my office so I was able to nurse every day at lunch. That helped a lot, but if I could have taken 6 or even 9 months off, I would have!
On the bright side though, I’ve noticed that my son (who is 2 now) does MUCH better at daycare than the kids who stayed home with mom longer. There are some kids in his center that are starting daycare for the first time between the ages of 1 and 3, and they cry more and really seem to have a hard time being away from mom, while my son has always done it, so he literally runs in, waves goodbye, and is playing with his friends before I even turn around to leave. So that is a bonus at least!
Post # 14
I would take as much time as you can. My DD is almost 9 months and I thought by now she’d need me less but I am so not ready to hand her over to daycare. She still seems so small for that. She’s also more fun now than she’s ever been. I’m really enjoying all my time with her.
Post # 15
froghop22 : US bee here. I had the same feeling as you. I was itching to go back at 12 weeks. I couldn’t have handled 6 months.