Category Archives: Work/Family Balance

I Need a Meternity Leave from My Maternity Leave

I need a Meternity Leave from my Maternity Leave | Money Savvy Living

 

So apparently, there is a thing now called a “meternity” leave.  In case you missed it, there was an article last week in the New York Post called “I Want All the Perks of a Maternity Leave Without Having Any Kids.”

 

Umm, what?  That is like saying, “I want all the benefits of eating a brownie sundae without the fat, calories, or weight gain.”  Or “I want to get in shape and lose 20 pounds while eating fast food every day and never going to the gym.”  Or “I want to be a neurosurgeon but don’t want to go to college.”

 

Do you see where I’m going here?  You can’t have one thing without the other… So instead of having time off work to care for a newborn child, the author of this article wants to take time off to focus on caring for herself.

 

Kudos.  Take all the time off work you want, lady.  You should take care of yourself.  Pamper yourself with a manicure, pedicure, massage, and facial.  Go buy yourself a new outfit while you’re at it.  Find a nice relaxing hammock and cuddle up with a good book.  Bury your toes in the sand and soak up the sun while you contemplate what direction to head in life.  Everyone needs a mental break, I get it.

 

But, to try to equate reflective “me” time off work with a maternity leave is beyond unwitting.

 

I will try to give this woman the benefit of the doubt though, because I remember my pre-children days—feeling that it wasn’t fair that people with kids get off work “early” in many cases, to make sure that they can pick their kids up from daycare on time, while those of us without an “excuse” had to continue working.  So I sort-of understand how she could misconstrue maternity leave as extra time off work that childless employees don’t ever get.

 

With that small concession being made, I’d like to take this opportunity to set Ms. Davies straight on what maternity leave is and isn’t.

 

First of all, it starts with a lot of pain… typically about 12-20 hours of extreme pain.  Pain so bad you are not sure that you can do it.  Pain so bad that when a nurse comes in an asks if you would like a 4-inch needle stuck in your back you gladly, even joyfully, accept the offer in order to take away some of the pain—not a “MEternity” leave yet…

 

Now, I won’t go through all the details of childbirth, however, suffice it to say, you will barely be able to walk for the next week.  But don’t worry about that because the only time you will need to get up and move is when your baby needs something—still not a “MEternity” leave….

 

…like a diaper change, fed, cuddled to sleep… so maybe only like once every hour—AROUND THE CLOCK—will you need to force yourself to get up and move around to care for your helpless newborn even though you are truly the one who needs the pampering at this point—definitely not a “MEternity” leave….

 

Once you are all healed up—in 4-6 weeks—you can go back to your active lifestyle.  You are finally able to work-out again—and you’re probably gonna want to because you will still most likely be carrying around 15-20 pounds of unwanted “baby-weight.”  It just doesn’t drop off, much to every new mother’s chagrin.  Caring for a newborn doesn’t lend much time to taking care of yourself.  Maybe you will get a workout in and maybe you won’t.  You will even have to try to sneak a shower in when your baby is napping—that is, if you aren’t napping yourself.  You won’t feel like yourself.  You will feel like a tired, sore, deflated balloon—but you will long to feel like yourself again.  So I wish you luck on any of these endeavors because if the baby starts to cry, you have to drop whatever it is that you are doing and tend to him or her—does this ever turn into a “MEternity” leave??

 

NO.  The answer is no.

 

In fact, I think most new mothers would honestly say that they could use a “meternity” leave from their maternity leave.

 

Meternity Leave | Money Savvy Living

 

So, to get back to the original outrage—I mean article—“I Want All the Perks of a Maternity Leave Without Having Any Kids,” I am curious what Ms. Davies thinks those perks are?

 

In her article, she says, “Bottom line: Women are bad at putting ourselves first. But when you have a child, you learn how to self-advocate to put the needs of your family first. A well-crafted “meternity” can give you the same skills — and taking one shouldn’t disqualify you from taking maternity leave later.”

 

Maternity leave is not about you.  It’s about your baby—taking care of your baby and bonding with him or her.  If you don’t know how to “self-advocate” before having a child, you won’t magically develop that skill upon reproducing—and in fact, having a baby to take care of will make self-advocating even harder.  You don’t have a child in order to find yourself, become self-aware, or introspective.  Having a child is not about what that child can do for you or how he or she will make you feel, it is about giving of yourself to a person that you decided to bring into this world—and maternity leave is only the start of that.

 

If you want “me” time, that’s great.  Take some time for yourself.  Do what you need to do to reflect on your life and be able to stand up for yourself—every woman should get to that point.  But don’t equate it with maternity leave.  You don’t want maternity leave, what you are looking for is called a vacation.

A Day in the Life of a Work at Home Mom

A Day in the Life of a Work at Home Mom | Money Savvy Living

 

I have struggled for years to reconcile my conflicting goals of wanting to be there for my kids as a work-at-home mom and continuing to advance professionally with my career.  Notice, I say “work-at-home mom.”  Whether a mother works outside the home or not is irrelevant—she still works at home. The only difference is income.

 

I never wanted to put my kids in daycare and never have. Not because I think daycare is bad, but because I wanted to be there for them. And I have been fortunate that family members have helped watch the kids over the years when I did work.

 

When our first son was born, my husband was definitely not on board with me staying at home full time. Because I had been at my job for several years, the company that I was working for allowed me to work from home most of the time. I think that it was during this time that my husband actually started liking the fact that I was more involved at home… that meant less for him to help with when it came to dishes, laundry, and helping to make dinner when he got home from work.

 

Then our second son came along. At this point, we made the decision that I would work only part-time. Plus, getting family members to babysit two small children was not going to be as easy as it was just one… it is a lot of work.

 

So, when baby number three came along, we decided that I would stay home full time. Now, keep in mind that each of these moves for me to work less outside-of-the-home had a huge impact on our budget and finances.  We have had to make lifestyle adjustments: not eating out as much, not taking a vacation every year… but having this time with my kids—totally worth it.

 

My kids are my world and I love them with all my heart, so having the opportunity to be at home with them has been absolutely wonderful, but I still had that desire for career advancement. I just couldn’t be content to be a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t know why. After all, it is what I wanted. Even though taking care of three active little boys is a lot of work, I just didn’t feel like I was doing enough. I had a job since I was 16 years old. At this point, I really felt like part of my identity was gone.

 

So I started writing finance articles online, then I started a blog… and then something wonderful happened, I started making money for doing this! I really had no idea that it would be possible to do something that fits into my schedule that I could be paid to do something that started out as simply a means to stay relevant professionally.

 

All of this brings me to today. Today was the first day that was warm and sunny and, while my two oldest boys had to go to school, the little guy did not have preschool today… and he knew exactly what he wanted to do—go outside. And we did. For four hours. I literally had to drag him in the house for lunch. But as we did all the things that he wanted to do: ride his tricycle, went for a walk, and stopped on our walk to throw rocks in the pond, I felt so very blessed to get to enjoy this time with him, just as I have my other kids. Yes, I had other stuff I could have been doing… writing articles, doing laundry or dishes, cleaning, but that stuff was all there for me when we got back.  Those chores didn’t miss the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to them, but I’m sure my little boy would have noticed.

Having fun throwing rocks in the pond... something so simple, but look how happy he is... LIFE IS GOOD.

Having fun throwing rocks in the pond… something so simple, but look how happy he is… LIFE IS GOOD.

He actually wanted to go for a walk in the stroller-- at least I got a little exercise in too!

He actually wanted to go for a walk in the stroller– at least I got a little exercise in too!

 

I don’t want to be the parent that is just there physically. I want to be there for my kids, interacting with them and letting them know that they are more important than any of the other things that I have on the to-do list. Today was a wonderful reminder to me that LIFE. IS. GOOD.