Working Postpartum

Let me preface this post by saying a few things:

I don’t think that a woman is a better mother because she stays at home with her children or because she works outside of the home.  I think that it’s entirely a case-by-case sort of thing.  There are some women who would be much better mothers if they were able to get out of the house, and there are some women who would love to have the option of staying at home with their babies but can’t for various reasons.  I get that, and I’m not judging anyone for their choice.

Now that that’s out of the way…

When it comes to me and our little family, I have to say that I love staying home with Joe.  Those first 3 months were a bit rough as he and I got to know one another.  Now?  I love being with him.  There are definitely days where he tries my patience and I struggle with having the right attitude, but taken as a whole, I love to hang out with him.  We do things, see people, and have a great time most days.  It’s taken me surprise, actually.

Despite all of that, I still work outside of the house.

New Zealand has a pretty nice deal for mums.  In general, we’re entitled to 1 year of mat-leave.  It’s not all paid, of course, but we have the freedom to say, “Yes – I’d like to take 365 days to stay home with my baby, and then at the end of all of that come back to my job in its current status”.  That’s pretty amazing, in my book.

Depending on the type of job that you do, there are other options available to you while still on mat-leave.  In my case, I’m able to go back to work provided that I don’t work an amount equal to the number of hours I worked per week before having Joe.  Translation: if you worked a 40 hour week, you can work 39 hours, 50 minutes and still technically be on mat-leave.  But if you work another 10 minutes during that week, your leave is up and its back to the grind.

So I’ve been working some shifts here and there.  All of my shifts have been when Chris is available to watch Joe, which means that I’ve been working some late hours.  It hasn’t been easy, and there are times when I wonder why I’m doing it.  I wonder what I’m trying to prove.

I thought about that this past week, after agreeing to pick up a lot more hours.  In the end, I decided that I was trying to work enough shifts to convince Chris that, once my mat-leave is officially over, I should just go to a prn/casual {as needed} basis rather than a regular X number of hours per week.  Thing is, Chris has never pressured me about work or picking up more hours.  He’s been incredibly supportive.  So was I really trying to prove it to him, or was I trying to prove it to myself?

In the end, I’d say it’s a little bit of both.  I’m working more hours to see how I feel about it, and I’m working more hours to see how Chris manages with Joe.  If all goes as I’d like it, then once my mat-leave is over I’ll apply for a prn/casual position rather than going back to what I used to do.

This has its pluses and minuses.  On the plus side, I get to pick the hours and shifts that I want to work.  I can work more or less depending on what’s available.  I don’t have someone else telling me when I need to come in.

On the minus side, it means that I have to take whatever is left open.  On one particular week, that might mean taking a shift that’s really strange hours.  It might mean going a week or two without working and then picking up several shifts during subsequent weeks.  There’s a level of unpredictability about it that might unsettle some people.

I still have time to decide.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying working in a job that offers such flexibility and living in a country where new mothers are so well-supported 🙂

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3 comments

  1. Anji says:

    Here in Finland, fully paid maternity leave is 9 months, and you can stay home for 3 years and they have to keep you job and the government pays you for doing so. And each child gets an allowance from the government until they turn 17, no matter how much the parents make. I never realised how truly lucky we are, until I started travelling and met women who had had to work until labor and who lost their jobs because of the baby… It’s a blessing indeed to have that freedom to decide whether to work or not =).

  2. Jenny @ Practically Perfect... says:

    I know, and I try really hard to not take it for granted. Leaving Joe even as little as I do is hard enough, so it’s given me a taste of how it must feel to be working full-time. I’m certainly enjoying it for the time being, though 🙂

  3. erica says:

    Such a great opportunity you have! I go back and forth. Some days I’m happy to go to work and some days I feel like I’m missing so much and only spend a few hours a night with Micah. Yes, the first few months were hard to be home all day with home alone but now he’s so much fun! Looking forward to the summer when I can spend all day with him again 🙂

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