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To ask for a polite way to explain maternity leave is not ‘a year off’?

779 replies

TurquoiseKiss · 12/05/2021 23:25

Returned to work this week after maternity leave of 1 year. All my colleagues are nice people so I don’t think this has been meant maliciously but a few have followed “welcome back” with “I wish I could take a year off” / “what did you get up to? Any nice trips?” / “you’re looking well, must have been nice to have a year break from work” (obviously this is what happened but the tone was as if I’d gone to lay on a beach somewhere and had ‘me time’ for 12 months!).

Suggestions please of the nicest way to say: “I birthed a baby, spent 5 fairly traumatic nights on a postnatal ward with no visitors allowed, haven’t had a full nights sleep since last April, didn’t go on any trips because y’know I took the time away from work to start raising a tiny person not seek out cheap last minute jollys…Comprende!?”

Tired Mum

OP posts:

TestingTestingWonTooFree · 12/05/2021 23:27



HopeClearwater · 12/05/2021 23:29

Did you have a baby for anyone’s good except your own?

Laugh along and say, “yeah it was great, aren’t we lucky to live in a country where maternity leave is a thing?”


Donotgogentle · 12/05/2021 23:29

Well, it is a year off from the workplace. Whilst it’s bloody hard work it’s a change from 9-5 grind.


Haenow · 12/05/2021 23:30

You’re never going to get through to these people. Smile and ignore. Or make up some outrageous stories. Grin


Anotherdayanotherdollar · 12/05/2021 23:30

Just don't... You're certainly not the first etc...


TurquoiseKiss · 12/05/2021 23:30

I’m asking for tips to change the narrative around maternity leave being viewed by some as a ‘holiday’.

OP posts:

fairynick · 12/05/2021 23:30

Well surely it was nice to have a year off work? They have a point, you’re being arsey for no reason


stressfuljune · 12/05/2021 23:32

For a huge number of people I know they do see it as a year off. The ones that don't enjoy it go back to work - sometimes earlier than planned!
Yes it's not all a holiday but it's time you can spend how you choose


Onedropbeat · 12/05/2021 23:33

I just got back after a year ‘off’ on maternity leave a few weeks ago

Pleased to say no one has joked about it being a years holiday

I’ve had quite a bit of sympathy due to it being during a pandemic.

It certainly wasn’t a years jolly holiday

But neither was my first maternity leave which wasn’t during a pandemic


ScaredOfDinosaurs · 12/05/2021 23:34

Humour combined with withering scorn.

Or just poke them in the eye with a fork.


BeckyWithTheGoodHair5629456 · 12/05/2021 23:34

It is a year off though? I've had two kids and had a year off each time, I thought it was excellent, despite the sleepiness nights / pain / breastfeeding etc. I think you're being a bit over sensitive.


Cial · 12/05/2021 23:35

What strange people are asking if you went on any nice trips during a pandemic.

Anyways ... doesn’t sound like you’re close to these people as seemingly haven’t spoken since you’ve been off so does it really matter.


BeckyWithTheGoodHair5629456 · 12/05/2021 23:35

Sleepless* definitely much sleepiness too though!


Rangoon · 12/05/2021 23:35

I wouldn't worry. People said similar things when I had six weeks off for orthopaedic surgery on both feet. I mean it was great to have an orthopaedic surgeon sawing my bones and putting in a metal screw. Obviously it didnt feel like much of a holiday to me being unable to even walk for weeks.


LizJamIsFab · 12/05/2021 23:36

Say it’s nice to be back in work to have a break from the baby minding!


katy1213 · 12/05/2021 23:37

You've had a year off; they've possibly had to pick up some of your work for no extra pay. They sound perfectly nice people who are welcoming you back - but nobody cares about your five traumatic nights or your lack of sleep or your tiny person because that was your choice. Spare them the details.


lottiegarbanzo · 12/05/2021 23:40

Just tell them you wrote a novel and learnt Japanese. And what have they done with their spare time in the last year?


Bagamoyo1 · 12/05/2021 23:40

But it is a year off. What else is it? You chose to get pregnant, have a child, and a year off work with that child.


BlackCatShadow · 12/05/2021 23:40

It’s been really tough having a baby during lockdown but he/she is so worth it. It’s nice to be back though.


TurquoiseKiss · 12/05/2021 23:40

Thanks for the responses. Maybe I am being a snowflake about it, I think it’s the lack of the term “leave” that annoys me when people talk about it. As in, it gets my back up to hear “this happened while you took a year off” rather than “this happened during your maternity leave”.

OP posts:

Sleepplease1111 · 12/05/2021 23:42

Welcome to parenthood -
If you are working part time get used to the ‘jokes’ about having a long weekend etc coming your way every week.


EmeraldShamrock · 12/05/2021 23:42

Be honest lack of sleep, a human milk making dispenser, sometimes lacking a wash with soap they'll soon stop making small talk.


Nekoness · 12/05/2021 23:42

It’s just small talk. Nobody needs to be lectured by you and have it explained to them what having a baby really entails. They just don’t want to ask about the baby/poo/sleepless nights you’ve had because ... well, they know you’ll tell them. In detail. And won’t stop.


FrangipaniDeLaSqueegeeMop · 12/05/2021 23:46

I'm gonna g against the grain and say go for it. This kind of low level sexism needs to stop and it doesn't stop if we don't challenge it


Oinkypig · 12/05/2021 23:46

Because it is a year off work? I have also “birthed” (AKA gave birth/had) a child and had an extended stay in hospital due to a traumatic birth, personally would have preferred no visitors due to lots of random people visiting the women on the ward but I appreciate not everyone would be the same.

I had (have) a non-sleeping child. People understand mat leave isn’t a holiday but it is time off, they are just making conversation.

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