As a career woman, is there ever a right time for motherhood? The short, answer is probably ‘NO’ for most women. Whilst this may be so for various reasons, thinking about maternity issues in advance can help prepare you for motherhood.
Below are some considerations for a working mum-to-be.
1. Save, save, save
Regardless of your salary, put something aside specifically for the baby. You will thank yourself later.
2. Get clued up on your maternity entitlement
The first thing I did when we started thinking about having a baby was to read my company’s maternity policy. Some employers give you the statutory minimum, and in some circumstances, an employee can qualify for enhanced benefits.
It’s important to start thinking about maternity entitlement at an early stage so that you can make informed decisions later on.
3. 52 weeks, more or less
On the assumption that you will be going back to work, consider how long you want to be out of work. But, stay flexible because you may not be able to tear yourself away from your baby when he or she arrives or, you may find it financially straining when the statutory payments end. This is why #1 above helps and why it’s good to know what the policy says as per #2 above.
4. Face the reality of childcare costs
The chances are, if you are working, you are likely to resume work (in some form) after maternity leave. Even before your bundle of joy arrives, I would recommend calling a couple of childcare providers to get an idea of childcare costs in your area. Of course your options can be fully explored later, but it’s good to make these enquires to assist in the financial decision making process. (And so you don’t get a shock later on!)
5. See the golden opportunity
Maternity leave is not a holiday. It can however provide a golden opportunity to assess where you are in your career and where you want to be.
A lot of career woman have started businesses and become ‘mumpreneurs’ during their maternity leave. Even if you don’t start a business, think of ways to enhance your skills for you return to work, or consider whether it’s time for a career change.
Of course, you may decide not to return to work after your maternity leave ends. If you decide not to, you will not be alone, as many women make this leap. (An old colleague of mine quit her job as successful lawyer to stay at home with her sons for almost ten years.)
You have to do what works for your household.
6. Is Flexible working for you?
Some businesses and organisations have fixed start and finish times and do not have ‘flexi-time’ arrangements in place for staff.
This does not prevent you from applying to work on a flexible basis. Your employer does not have to agree to your request (if there is a business need), but they have to be reasonable in coming to their decision.
Working on a flexible basis includes working condensed hours (ie full time hours in less days); having flexible start and finish times; doing a job share or working less hours.
There will be pros and cons for each option, but there should be one that’s more suitable for your situation.
7. Don’t forget your partner has paternity rights too
Your partner should also check his contract and/or employee handbook for details of his entitlements.
This is not a conclusive list but I hope it was helpful. Please comment below and share any further tips you may have.
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