What is the proper amount of time for maternity leave?
For those of you who read my last column, you know that I mentioned Marissa Mayer joining as CEO of yahoo while six months pregnant and how monumental that was.
As of two weeks ago, Marissa had her first child, a baby boy and if news reports are credible it seems she has already been hard at work from home and will be getting back to the office next week. I realize that as CEO her role is meant to be hands on, and due to her income levels she is able to afford nannies, a cook and a cleaning person. She will likely also be able to bring her baby to the office and set up an area for him with her Nanny so that she works while he sleeps. But is working so soon after giving birth in the best interest of the child and the mother?
This situation got me thinking; could a South Asian woman with strong desi connections do the same?
I know that if I suggested returning to work days after having my first child, my mother and mother-in-law would have thrown a fit! First of all, when I had my daughter they recommended not taking her out anywhere with lots of people for the first 40 days as her immunity was not strong.
Secondly, they spent a lot of time making me food to help me get my strength back. And finally they spent every moment they could just oooohhhing and aaaahhiinng over their new grandchild.
I think the conversation would have gone something like this:
Me: “I’m going back to work after one week”
Mom: “WHAT? Are you crazy?”
Me: “No, I’m not crazy, I have responsibilities”
Mom: “You have responsibilities to your baby too!”
Me: “Baby will be fine. Baby can come with me to my office”
Mom: “WHAT? No. You want to go to work, then you go. Baby will stay with me”.
This would be followed by my Mom doing something in the kitchen while muttering under her breath about what a mistake I was making.
We are very fortunate to get one year maternity leave in Canada, but there are the drawbacks that during that year away a woman may get passed up for promotions and be limiting their career.
So I have to ask…. What is the right amount of maternity leave? What is the magic number which allows a child to grow strong and attached to their mom, while not hindering a mothers career? And would my mother be right? Is Marissa Mayer crazy? Only time will tell.
Though I do not have the answers to these questions, as someone returned from a one-year maternity leave 18 months ago, I do have some tips for new moms on a successful transition
- DON’T – Start back on a Monday! You will be amazed at how exhausted you are at the end of the day. Start on Thursday so that you have a weekend soon to re-energize
- DON’T – Feel guilty for calling to check up on your child. You’re a mom, your child is your top priority.
- DO – Have meals pre-frozen for your first week back to work.
- DO – Plan our outfits in advance for not only you but also your little one as mornings can get quite hectic
- DO – Take time to see your doctor and dentist before heading back to work. You may not feel like you have time once you start back.
- DON’T – Be so hard on yourself. Being a mom is hard, whether you stay at home, work from home, or work outside of the home. It’s okay to let the house get messy so you can play with your little one for half an hour
- DO – Ask for help if you need it. There is no such thing as “SuperMom”. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, entertaining, working, child-rearing…. it’s ALOT!
Any other tips you can think of? Please let us know in your comments below!