So I’ve gotten myself into a pickle. This would happen to me though. I love challenges. I want to do everything all. at. once.

Three months ago, in the duration of a week, I found out the following:
1. I was pregnant (BIG SHOCK)
2. I was offered a shiny new position as Digital Marketing Manager at an amazing company! (BIG BIG SHOCK)
3. I received a letter from Kingston University offering me a spot on the Masters course for Behavioural Economics (TRIPLE BIG SHOCK)

Hmmm should I stay at my current job and receive 6 months full paid maternity leave? Double hmmm should I post-pone my Masters degree for another time? Triple hmmmm should I even be having a baby at this point in my life?

Guess what I decided to do?

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All.
Of. 
Them.Hence why I am here now, writing this post about maternity leave. I started my new job two weeks ago. Unfortunately as I will only be with the company for four months until baby is due, I will not get paid maternity leave. I’ve researched this and found I am still able to apply for Maternity Allowance. This leaves me with the task of having to speak to my new manager about how long I will be taking maternity leave.

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It’s strange that this is even something I have to think about.

I would have never thought that I would be questioning……
How much time do I need to take off?
Is 4 months enough time? Should I do 6 months? (UK standard is about 6 months to a year, in the US it’s 3 months?)
Should I do part-time when I return?
What hours do I want to work when I return?
Should I ask to work from 8am to 4pm instead of the typical 9am to 5:30pm?
Should I try and work from home one day a week?

My main worry is that my manager will think poorly of me if I take a long maternity leave. As I am still very new and trying to prove myself, this is somewhat difficult. I want my manager to believe in me and my work, and to understand that I am committed and hard-working. I didn’t decide to take this position to chill out, have a baby (as if that’s chilling out), and leave them for a year. I am extremely dedicated to my work and have big dreams to be very successful!

So to compromise, instead of taking 6 months/a year (UK standard), I’m looking to take 4 months. With option 1,  working full time right when I get back but with one day working from home a week, or option 2, more gradual progression back into work, taking part-time on the 5th and maybe 6th month.

This would be my plan. Option 1 shows that I mean business with my new manager, option 2 gives me more time to adjust.

Option 1 – working straight away

  • Take 4 months maternity leave.
  • Normal schedule, ask to work from 8-4pm

Option 2 – more gradual progress back into work

  • Take 4 months maternity leave
  • Upon return, gradual work load
    • For first month back: 2 days off a week
    • Following months: 1 day working from home

I’ll let you know how it goes. Obviously, this isn’t really something that can be planned as things might change when the baby is here, but I guess this is more of a guideline to follow and to discuss with my manager.

If anyone has any ideas or experience on how to approach maternity leave or how long is ideal time to take off, it would be really helpful to hear from you!

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9 thoughts on “What’s the best maternity leave duration?”

  1. Hi Meagan,

    Hmm… or maybe double hmm. Firstly congratulations 🙂 Today is my son’s first full day at nursery. I work from home and he’ll only be going twice a week. I went in at noon to feed him (I still breastfeed and we live very close by), he was crying because he was over-tired and teething. He is only 11,5 months and to me he just seemed so tiny (even though he’s a big boy for his age), but it broke my heart that others had to comfort him (I wont be going every time). He quickly calmed down and generally we’ve had a good start to our nursery journey. I returned officially in October after 8 months maternity leave, they flew by! I’m lucky that my partner freelances as well so he’s been looking after Caspian while I returned to work. I don’t know what advice to give, but maybe have a back-up plan in mind in case you’re not ready to return after four months. Also, if you choose to breastfeed WHO suggests 6 months, so that might be worth taking into consideration (though you can express of course). Best of luck whatever you decide #bestandworst

  2. That’s a tough one! Second option sounds good, but you might want to pitch it from 6 months – babies seem a lot more independent by then, at 4 months they are still cuddly all day! 🙂

    #bestandworst

  3. Yea good point, there is no right length for breastfeeding. That’s another question though! When’s the right time to stop breastfeeding?! Based on what other people have mentioned, it does seem like after 6 months babies are a bit more indpendent but who knows could be different for every child! Aahhh

  4. No, I didn’t even know! Ha ha, they’ve been very nice about it, he said if I needed to take longer I could but that they would love if I came back around 4 months! Obviously he can’t really say anything else really or else they’d be in trouble.

  5. Wow lovely what a lot at once! This is a massive decision. I think you should plan and see how it all goes. If your little one is a breastfeeder you may have some fun but I’m sure things can be worked around. Wishing you lots of luck and hope you can come to a decision. Massive congrats though…you have done so well 🙂 Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  6. Congratulations! And good luck …. We worked out that we could afford for me to stay off work for 6 months, then I had to go back and Rev T would stay at home to do the childcare. We were lucky that my job paid enough for me to do this. For others, it means find decent daycare. I found it easier knowing what I was doing and it was all fixed and doing a staggered return. I think ignoring the whole thing until your maternity leave is almost up is unhelpful as you may end up bouncing into a decision. But, that said, everyone is different and you’ve got to do what you think is best.

  7. Both sound reasonable to me! When baby arrives, you’ll know what’s right for yourself and family. I did not have much of a choice as my baby came unexpectedly early right smack at the tail end of my project. I was working as I was nursing. But it all worked out. Thanks for sharing with #abitofeverything

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