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6 Month Mat Leave?

(20 Posts)
Carrie2806 Mon 12-Mar-18 21:40:53


This is my first pregnancy and I’m completely clueless about most things 😩
I have spoken about my situation with friends, they’ve all taken a year off and gone back to work part time, and seem skeptical that what I’m thinking of doing is realistic. But to me it seems alright, but I don’t know if i’m just naive.

I have 3 questions I’m hoping you can help with:

How to break the news?

I am currently 12 weeks, work for a start up and I really love my job. I will be the first one to go on maternity leave (there’s no HR department!!) so I am worried at how well they’ll handle it. Also I feel a sense of responsibility to the next person, to not rub anyone up the wrong way!

I am really good at my job, I have a good relationship with my boss, but I do worry if things go sour that it’s going to be difficult to find another job in a similar role (I’ve looked, there’s nothing about).

So, I’m also worried about telling my boss as I am kind of the glue that holds everything together in my department so I don’t think he’ll be especially thrilled from that perspective.

I would rather just be up front with them, and them be up front with me so there’s no surprises. I don’t want it all to feel like a game of chess. I want to say ‘this is how much time off I want, this is when I want to come back, and I promise to be up front with you if anything changes, and in return for you to do the same with me’.
Although I keep hearing you aren’t meant to give too much away as it can backfire, so i’m not sure if this is the right approach.

How long to take?

I want to protect my career, so I’m thinking 6 months, so I can at least give breast feeding a good try, but I won’t be away too long. I would like to go back to work full time, but 4 might be more realistic to begin with.

Just a little background: My commute is 10 minutes, my work does flexi time (you can start between 8-10am and finish between 4-6pm), and there’s not really a culture of working late or doing lots of overtime, so although we all work very hard during office hours, we are lucky that when you’re at home, you’re home.
My in laws are retired, and I know they would be happy to help out at least one day a week. We did the maths on nursery fees and that’s ok. My husband is supportive (no good at cooking or cleaning haha) but is a good egg and always pulls his weight. He is also learning to cook.

So to me, this seems alright?

Finally, what are the options for looking after a young baby? I heard they can pick up lots of bugs at nursery, and I didn’t know if childminders would take them so young....sounds like it would be expensive also 🤔

Thank you for reading, apologies for the waffling on!

OP’s posts: |
OkyDoke Mon 12-Mar-18 21:44:25

I'm going back at the start of next month and baby will just be 7 months. You aren't alone! I think childminders are cheaper? Not sure though. Some people prefer the hone setting but obviously a personal choice! I feel like I've been here for a lot of the hard bits... first tooth is now through, weaning well started, sleeping not awfully although I'm sure that won't last! You'll be Fine 😊

Carrie2806 Wed 14-Mar-18 19:22:21

Thank you OkyDoke! Appreciate your reply, and it’s nice to hear from someone who’s done it! I definitely feel better ☺️

OP’s posts: |
Helspopje Wed 14-Mar-18 19:25:12

I did 6m with my first
It was way way way too young
She couldn't even sit when she went
Got mastitis umpteen times and trying to work through teething was hell
I have always regretted it

Ginger1982 Wed 14-Mar-18 19:28:59

My DS is 11 months. I always intended taking 12 months and there's no way at 6 months that I personally could have gone back. I've actually decided to give up my job completely but that's just me.

If you enjoy your job, feel fulfilled by it and think you would be bored simply being at home then go back after 6 months, plenty of folks do.

Don't feel bad about having to tell them. You're allowed to have kids and they will just have to cope! I would tell them that you're thinking about coming back after 6 months but you're not committing to anything. Remember if you go back after 6 months they have to give you your same job back with same terms and conditions but if you take longer then they only have to give you a similar job.

Newmum102 Wed 14-Mar-18 19:29:24

Went back when my LO was a bit older at 8 months. I hated it to start with but you get used to it. He’s been at nursery 4 weeks now, was off all of last week due to being ill and thankfully my work were ok with my being off too. I realised how much I miss him during the week and how I miss being with him every day. He’s settled really well at nursery which is a massive bonus. It’s definitely harder on me.

RickyGold Wed 14-Mar-18 19:31:40

Went back part time at 5 months, full time at 9 months, absolutely fine. Breastfed for 3 + years, no problems. It is only recently taking around a year mat leave is more normal. Do what you want. I used a childminder to begin with, changed to nursery at 16months, back to childminder at 4 years. Pros and cons to both, my ds didn't catch lots of bugs.

tootiredforeverything Wed 14-Mar-18 19:38:36

I have recently gone back after 8 months mat leave. I have to say I would have struggled to go back any earlier and I postponed by a month as I underestimated how I'd feel. Baby is in nursery full time 4 days from 8am to 5:30 ish, and I wfh one day a week. She took to it straight away and never cries when we drop her off. It was me who cried on the first day, not her! My advice would be to wait until your baby can sit up and has been weaned, as they suddenly become more independent at this stage. Plus they usually start to sleep much better then too. I work for a start up and had similar concerns to you as was also first woman to take mat leave. Overall it's been ok coming back and as my baby is happy with the set up, I can relax and focus at work without worrying about her.

Callamia Wed 14-Mar-18 19:42:00

I went back at six months both times. My husband took three months to take over. I work flexibly too, so breastfeeding could continue just fine, and it was really good for my husband to spend time with the babies. It was definitely the right thing to do for us.

AliMonkey Wed 14-Mar-18 19:46:13

I went back at 6 months for both DC, but only 3dpw and still do that many years later. It's only in the last 10 years or so with changes in maternity leave and pay that a year has become the norm.

It was difficult at first as neither would take a bottle but they survived - lots of milk morning and evening and a bit of solid food in day and eventually bottles of expressed milk then formula when I got fed up of pumping in my lunch hour. I kept ebf to 8 months then mixed feeding for another 6 months.

With DC1 the nursery was round corner from work so I felt better knowing I could be there in 5 mins if needed - though never was. By DC2 my office had moved and so was over an hour away but by then I didn't mind!

Re telling work, tell them when you're ready to. And I would be upfront with "at moment I think my plan is X but of course I may change my mind once baby is here".

I agree with your plan to not go FT straight away - perhaps do 4dpw initially but maybe even use holiday you earned while on ML to do eg 3dpw for first few weeks but be paid for four?

OkyDoke Thu 15-Mar-18 08:06:36

I have to admit I might have felt differently if my mum hadn't offered to have my son.

Cyclingforcake Thu 15-Mar-18 08:15:27

It sounds like a very sensible plan at this stage. It’s hard though when you’re not doing what others around you are doing.

I went back at 6 months (and a little accrued holiday). It was tough at times but totally normal in my profession. I work full time over 4 days so continued to do that when I went back. We used a childminder to begin with which was lovely although we changed to nursery when our circumstances changed a bit later. Personally I think your plan of being completely upfront and promising to be honest if things change sounds reasonable and again is what I did but I appreciate in some industries that won’t work. I loved going back to work and getting that sense of self back and it’s been worth it in the long run. DS loves nursery and we’re financially stable (I’m the main earner) even if I did feel exhausted for most of that first year.

DoubleHelix79 Thu 15-Mar-18 08:28:51

I went back to work after 6 months and it was fine.

DD went to a childminder who she really loves and has a lot of fun with. The only difficulty we had was getting her to take bottles - the first few weeks she drank very little but eventually gave in. If I did it again I would make sure I consistently gave baby a bottle a day from the early weeks onwards.

I pumped for a while and that worked ok (a double electric pump really helps) and did a lot of TCs with the gentle humming of the pump in the background. I mainly stopped because DD had formula at the childminder and bf at home, so didn't really need the expressed milk.

I initially went back 3 days per week and am now planning to go back to 4 days (DD turned one a few weeks ago). I would do 5 days but DH also works 4 days per week and we like having Fridays as an additional family day.

To be honest by 6 months I was also really happy to have something else in my life besides nappies and bottles. I am not made for full time motherhood, as much as I love DD.

My advice would be to stick up for what is really right for you and not let anyone talk you into something you'd hate. Your baby will be doing fine whatever option you choose.

MummyCuddlesSolveEverything Thu 15-Mar-18 08:45:13

I was supposed to be going back(full time) in a few weeks when ds is 6months but extended it by 2months. I was going back for financial reasons but realised I couldn't do it so early, the next 2months will be difficult financially but so worth it.
Just be honest with you employer and tell them what your plans are but bare in mind you might change your mind when the baby arrives (I hated it when people told me that but they were right).

My employer was great, I'd just moved departments and started a new role but they were happy for me and have be great about mat leave. I think that's because I was open and honest(and I work with lovely people!) When I go back ds will be with pil for 2days, nursery 2days and dh 1day.

Sorry for such a long response my ds doesn't sleep well and I don't seem to be able to word things properly (another reason I'm not going back to work yet).

Taytotots Thu 15-Mar-18 09:14:27

Sounds like a great job to have with kids. Your plan sounds fine to me but just bear in mind you may feel different depending on circumstances - e.g. difficult birth, premature birth (in which case your baby might be an earlier adjusted age as you mat leave kicks in on day of birth), difficulty breastfeeding (if you choose to). I'm sure your work will be very keen to have you back but in the scheme of things a free extra months won't make a massive difference if you need them - they will cope and appreciate you all the more when you do get back. Have you thought about your partner taking shared parental leave? this would let you have the baby at home for longer as he could do later months of 'maternity' leave. I have several friends who have done this and it has worked really well.

MsJuniper Thu 15-Mar-18 09:21:03

I booked to be off for 6 months but ended up adding another month - DS had quite a tricky start and had really blossomed at the 6 month mark so it was nice to spend a month really enjoying time with him.

It is obvious you really care about your job and your workplace and I am sure that will come across to them. Assuming they only pay SMP it won't cost them too much and as long as you have plenty of time to arrange your handover it will be ok. Perhaps an opportunity for other staff members to improve their own skills? I work for a small charity so I understand your feelings.

user1493413286 Thu 15-Mar-18 09:22:10

It sounds like a great job to be going back to after children. We’re using a childminder when I go back to work as I like the home environment and it is cheaper than a nursery.
Can you afford to have longer off or is it about bring away from work longer? Personally I would have really struggled to go back at 6 months as DD wasn’t sleeping well and emotionally I would have found it tough.
It also makes it tough on your work to get maternity cover as 6 months isn’t long but that’s not your problem but will be something your employers will think about.
I would tell them soon so they have plenty of time to plan.

Zebrasinpyjamas Thu 15-Mar-18 13:03:36

I think one of the reasons people advise not to commit to an early return date is you don't know how you will feel. Personally at 5-6 mths old, my dc were just getting fun/more interactive plus were in enough of a routine that I could plan things during the day. I wouldn't want to have missed any of that stage. However when they were about ten mths old, I was ready for the mental stimulation my job gives me plus my dc were reliably eating solids so the thought of leaving them in childcare didn't make me worry me as much.

Whether you are away 6 mths or a year, your employer needs to get a workable solution to replace you. It's not like a 2 wk holiday where they can muddle through. Therefore in some ways it does not matter to them that much how long you are away. They have the hassle of making a change regardless.
My only advice would keep your options open and don't commit to too much when you just don't know how you will feel yet.

Microwavey Fri 16-Mar-18 02:38:15

It sounds like a good plan but could you do shared parental leave/pay so that your dh take 3 months of parental leave once you go back, so the baby is at home with him while you're settling back in? May make it an easier transition and will mean your baby isn't starting daycare when they're not yet sitting etc. And will potentially be great for their relationship too. I took 12 months both times as could afford it due to massive drop in costs once baby arrived (no more going out 5 nights a week haha) and just not feeling ready myself (I live the baby stage and my dc both napped really well but weren't great night time sleepers) but I'm sure my dc would have been OK if I'd gone back earlier.

Microwavey Fri 16-Mar-18 02:44:58

Don't forget you can potentially add your annual leave on to the end of your maternity leave to bring it up to 7 months. If you take 6 months then realistically your baby may be around 5 months when you go back, which is pretty tiny.

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