Congratulations on entering the exciting world of working motherhood! For a lot of working women who love their careers, it can be quite stressful to plan maternity leave while preparing for the baby’s arrival.
You may not want to return to your work or you may be positive about returning to work after your delivery.
How to Plan Maternity Leave
Either way, it will be beneficial if you have a flexible approach in planning your maternity leave.
There are many things that expectant working mothers consider while planning maternity leave because those factors will affect the mother emotionally, financially, and logistically later on.
What are the steps to follow while planning for maternal leave?
- Understand your rights.
- Know your maternity leave laws, such as the pregnancy discrimination act (PDA) as well as the family and medical leave act (FMLA).
- Understand how the leave is going to be defined.
- Learn about your company policies regarding maternity leave. Not all companies provide paid maternity leave, and often not all the employees will be “covered”.
- Explore your personal goals, aspiration, plans, and prospects.
- Start thinking about child care.
- Tell your boss, your colleagues, and the clients about your pregnancy and maternity leave.
Understand your rights and know your laws
- If you are a US citizen, the expected mothers in the US are protected by various Federal laws. If you have been working in the United States for over a year, then the family and medical leave act (FMLA) guarantees you 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave to take care of your newborn or a foster child, or an adopted child. However, this law only applies to those companies that have a minimum of 50 employees. The smaller companies, as a result, are likely to have different policies.
- There also exists a short-term disability policy. This coverage will either make you entitled to receive half or full salary. Such coverage is only available for a few weeks on the grounds of medically-related needs.
- Also, remember that maternity leave laws vary across states. You should learn about your state’s laws and your company’s guidelines regarding maternity leave. Sometimes companies don’t have any formal guidelines in place, so talk to your colleagues to know what the procedure is.
- Learn more about the pregnancy discrimination act (PDA), which prevents discrimination against pregnant women during hiring as well as in an existing employment scenario, illegal. However, oftentimes, pregnant women find themselves exploited. So learn about your rights to protect yourself and get the best maternity plan.
What actually is Maternity Leave
The off taken by a to-be mother before and after her delivery is basically maternity leave. This leave is typically made from many company benefits such as sick leaves, holiday time, vacation days, short-term disability, and personal days along with unpaid family leave days.
Learn your company’s guidelines regarding maternity leave and talk to your Human Resources department.
Sometimes companies will ask the expectant mother to first use the company benefits before using the short-term disability and unpaid leaves. However, if you find any unrealistic restrictions, research your rights to ensure that the company is not being discriminatory. Leaves are a must because now is the time to prepare the body.
Personal Career plans and aspirations
- Explore your goals and work schedule
You need to ask yourself what kind of mother you plan to be. Do you see yourself being a working mother? Does your employer have any flexible work policy?
You need to answer these questions privately to yourself, or you can share them with someone you trust, like your partner but do not disclose this information to your manager or your colleagues.
As motherhood is inherently unpredictable and challenging, it is best not to make any permanent decisions but it is a good idea to start exploring different options that may be available to you.
- Ask your employer for a flexible work schedule.
A flexible work schedule will help you to accommodate the pediatrician visits, school field trips, parent-teacher conferences, and soccer practices in your busy schedule.
You can even opt for a telecommuting day where you work from your home for at least once a week after your maternity leave ends.
- Look for a part-time job
If you plan to quit your job after your baby arrives then a financially sound decision would be to start looking for paid part-time jobs.
Paid part-time jobs will allow you to spend sufficient time with your baby at home while also taking some financial burden off your shoulders.
Start planning childcare
- Explore childcare options
After your maternity leave ends, you will be left with no sick leave so it will start to get very difficult to manage your child, especially on the days when your baby gets sick. Start looking for childcare. Now would be a good time to start exploring your options.
You may choose a daycare center, in-home babysitting, family child care, or have a relative help you to take care of your baby when you go to work.
- Have a backup
Whatever you choose, remember that even if you are a relative or in-home babysitter can fall sick and may not be able to help you on some days.
It is important to have backup child care from the beginning so that you don’t have to worry about it later on.
Inform your boss, co-workers, and clients about your maternity leave
- You have to let your boss, your colleagues, and your clients know that you are pregnant as soon as possible. Most women start letting people know after finishing the first trimester. Remember that your boss should hear about this news from you before anyone else.
So that future conversations regarding your maternity leave go smoothly, you can send a maternity leave letter. Make your boss understand your commitment to your work.
- Talk to any of your coworkers who have already gone through the process of maternity leave. She will be able to offer you suggestions and insights from her own experience. Remember to ask for tips to help ease your transition a little and then make your plan.
- After preparing a draft of your maternity leave plan, you should have your coworkers on your side. You should make them prepared with the idea of you leaving for a while. If you have people reporting to you, delegate them some more responsibilities, and motivate them to work harder and step up during this time.
Don’t just dump a lot of work on your colleagues. Be sure to delegate responsibilities according to your co-workers’ choice. Have candid conversations with your co-workers regarding their flexibility and if they want more responsibility.
- Let your coworkers know about your ongoing projects. You should first finish the top-priority projects that you are working on and provide your co-workers with memos and updates regarding your projects.
- Communicate with your outside contracts and clients. Communicate with your clients to make them feel secure about their contracts. Let them know who will be taking care of their task when you are gone. You should introduce your clients to the coworker who will be working with them so that things can go smoothly in your absence.
- Try not to over-commit. Most first-time expectant mothers don’t anticipate how hectic the maternity leave is going to be. Remember that your baby will be your top priority during your maternity leave. Don’t make yourself over-committed to your projects and your coworkers during your leave.
- Set boundaries regarding communication and availability. Communicate clearly with your employees and co-workers regarding how and when they should contact you. If you are worried about being out of touch with your office during your leave, you should establish clear guidelines regarding daily calls or emails.
FAQs about Planning Maternity Leave
Why should I develop a Maternity plan?
Planning for your maternity leave will ensure the smooth running of things at your office when you will be gone. It will also help you to be prepared for any financial challenges as your maternity leave may be unpaid.
A proper Maternity plan will help you to make the most of your maternity leave time. You will also be prepared on how to transition back to work when your leave ends.
When should I take my maternity leave?
The timing depends on the preference of expectant mothers. Most women prefer to take off a week or a month before the baby is due to arrive.
However, some women also wait until their due date arrives before starting their maternity leave as that helps them to spend the maximum time with the baby at home.
Whatever you choose, remember to give your employer a 30-day notice before you are set to take your family and medical leave.
Should I quit my job after having my child?
You should not take any rash or irrevocable decision before you have your child. The answer to this question also depends on your personal preferences and aspirations. Quitting your job may seem tempting before your baby.
However, you may later discover that working motherhood is more suitable for you. The decision to quit your job will also depend on the employment availability in the future and the financial stability of your family.
How do I inform the clients about my maternity leave?
Typically the way clients are informed of maternity leave is by sending out a letter or email notifying them in advance of the first day of maternity leave.
You can even set up a personal meeting with your clients informing them about your leave and talk about how things are going to be taken care of in your absence.
Pregnancy is going to be an exciting event in your life but preparing for maternity leave is stressful for most women. Knowing your laws and rights will help you to get the best maternity leave from your company.
Careful planning and properly established communication guidelines will help you to stay in touch with your work even in your maternity leave.
Having a well thought out plan with well-delegated jobs will help you in your transition after your maternity leave ends. During your maternity leave, don’t forget to stay in touch with your office and your projects.
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Mother of Two children. I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for Good parenting. I understand child development and know how to develop activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.