Going Back to Work After Having A Baby
First and foremost, we do not have children. Not because we do not want to, but because we have thought carefully about the consequences. For medical reasons, we are advised not to have kids.
I write this because I regularly hear complaints from colleagues that there is not enough time to help your children grow up, that you always have to take them to the daycare because you have to work yourself, and that you sometimes have to do extra work to make sure you can pay all your bills.
It starts with the pregnancy. The future mother changes both inner and outer. Appearance is pretty logical, but not always as easy to handle a woman. In this world of perfection, we’re told that everyone should have the figure of a (photoshopped) model. Inwardly, a new life starts to grow and your body requires more energy to make that small life grow. Your work also starts to suffer because you cannot so easily after a few months because your belly prevents this. And the stress starts. You are less focused on your work because life begins to come into your belly.
Here in Europe, you can take maternity leave before you give birth. This way you can, if you need it, go to rest before your childbirth. The number of days that you take before your delivery is deducted from your total leave. So you have time to adjust to the situation and to motherhood. You can feed your child in your own environment and sleep. But what is so normal for us does not seem to apply everywhere. In America, this is still a luxury that is only reserved for people who have a piggy bank aside. You can take the leave but it’s unpaid.
When your maternity leave is over, you have to get back to work. Then the daily stress starts all over again. Now, you must bring your child to the daycare, ensure that everything is there for their care, such as diapers, food, clothing, etc. During your working hours, you are distracted and you wonder if everything is going well with your newly born baby. Is there enough food, is your child really well cared for now that you cannot be there? In the meantime, you make milk for your child yourself and you have to check where and how you can pump so that your baby can be fed regularly. It’s not evident to find out where. Some employers provide a separate room where you can do this in peace, others require you to do this on the toilets.
There is a lot involved and stress is inevitable. Financially it is not possible for most of us to stay at home. If you can work from home you certainly have a lot of advantage because you can keep an eye on your small sprout. You do not have to get up extra early to pack everything and bring your child to the daycare and see that you also are at work on time.
Even paternity leave is not the same in all countries. Here in Belgium, you can take 10 days, either behind each other or divided. In America, you have to check whether you are eligible to be able to include this. In Japan, fathers are entitled to 12 months, just like mothers, and receive compensation in that period. However, only 2 percent of the fathers entitled to it used it in 2015. In the Netherlands, you are only entitled to 2 paid days. There is no fixed line in the schemes. Many fathers consciously do not take leave after the birth. Some because it is not in their culture or because they otherwise earn less.
It is certainly not easy to raise a child. Partly because of the imposed laws, but also because of the financial responsibility that comes with it. Once they are in puberty, it is a completely different story. How were you at that time? So, no, it’s not always easy, going back to work after having a baby. Good planning is a must so that you can also take your rest regularly. Without planning there is no balance. Without balance, there is no rest. Find your balance!
Here’s a video about 2 mothers talking about how they changed their life because they wanted more time and freedom.