Maternity leave. It’s one of those things you always think must be so goddamn amazing, right?
Months and months off work, and you still get paid?! The dream!
And then you fall pregnant, and actually have to properly consider your maternity leave.
When you’re going to start it. How long you’re going to take. How you’re going to budget.
It suddenly becomes a little bit scary, and certainly not the extended holiday you always thought it might be.
When should you work until?
I have no idea whether this get’s easier to plan if you’re onto baby number 2, 3, 4, 11, lol, but with a first baby, you have no idea what 8-9 months pregnant actually feels like.
How tired am I going to be? Am I simply going to be “done” with work? Will I just be dreaming of all the nesting I want to do?
It’s a lot to consider!
For me, I kind of can’t bear the thought of rattling around my house waiting for baby to appear. As much as work is not my fave place in the world lol, it does keep me busy.
That, coupled with the fact that my maternity pay isn’t great, and I want to stretch out the time with the little nugget for as long as possible, I’m hoping to work as close to my due date as possible.
Only time will tell I suppose, but I am very thankful that I still have enough holiday left to begin a slow wind down to my finish now…I have just 1 full week at work between now and the New Year!
I plan to fill that time with nesting, shopping and blogging. Bring. It. On.
Understanding how it all works
When does your company pay stop? How long does SMP last for? When do you qualify for child benefit?
It’s a minefield of information, and it honestly takes a while to wade through it all.
I found the government website the best place for information, and I scoured it to slowly try and take it all in.
Pair that with the information your workplace provides, any information your midwife can offer, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Going on maternity leave is a huge thing for most people, so make sure you feel comfortable with everything you need to know.
How the F am I going to afford it?
And that brings me nicely to this question. The one that has stressed me out from the minute I saw that little “pregnant” show on the wee stick.
I hadn’t considered just how much of a downward jump my pay would take, and I’m not going to lie, amid all the excitment…that scares me.
I am a religious budget-er though, so my spreadsheet skills have been put to the ultimate test.
If you’re struggling to work out how you’re going to afford it, I’d recommend this maternity pay calculator (it’s government run, so pretty accurate), to give yourself an idea of how much you’ll take home on whichever basis you are usually paid.
Don’t be afraid to annoy your payroll department with a million questions too. I asked for a specific breakdown of monthly pay, along with questions about how the tax will work, and how my student loan repayments will be affected.
We may have a tough few months ahead of us, but I’d rather go into it with my eyes wide open, having planned for how we’ll pay the mortgage each month.
And with all that said and done, let me say this loudly, don’t let money scare you too much.
Putting my little boy ahead of work is what is most important to me when he makes his appearance. People haven’t stopped having babies yet because they couldn’t afford them, so I’m pretty sure we all just make it work in the end.
I’m sure all mum’s to be face an element of fear around being home alone with a new baby all day.
For me, I think I’m a little scarred by 6 months off work as I faced cancer.
Although I had the best support network I could have wished for, at times I just felt so alone, rattling around my own home.
There was no structure to the day. No real reason to get up. Friday evening didn’t mean anything. The days just melted into one long meaningless mass of time.
I’m determined to put that to the back of my mind though, and I’m fairly sure the little one will keep me a lot busier than I was back then!
Whilst there will be days where I can’t do anything more than get out of bed, let alone brush my hair or get out of my PJs, I know that to feel sane, I need to add some kind of structure to my day.
At the very least, I need to put a proper outfit on each day to make me feel even slightly productive. Lol.
Returning to work
I haven’t even started my maternity leave yet and this one is stressing me out.
There’s the personal side. Is my workplace too far away from my baby? How will I honestly feel leaving him behind everyday?
Can I afford to work a week that looks a bit different? Will my workplace allow it?
As you can see, I have a million unanswered questions that I honestly don’t think will be answered until the time comes along.
My advice? Take each day as it comes, and go with your gut.
It’s not just the personal side though, it’s all the things that might be happening at work without me.
What if my maternity cover did a better job than I ever did?
What if my team prefer them, and dread the day that I come back?
I know, I’m dramatic aren’t I, but I’m already considering how difficult it could be to just slot back in, and if I let it get to me, these thoughts fill me with anxiety.
So yeah, maternity leave is a bit bloody scary
Although I have all these thoughts rushing around in my mind, and a billion questions firing away, I’m also well aware, that once he is here, none of this will matter.
I fully intend to let go of all of these things, and just live in a bubble…me, Ross, baby and Bear. And lol, all the things that keep me sane, like this lot I wrote about here.
Family is what is important. I’ll be happy whether we’re living on beans on toast, and I haven’t washed my hair in a week. Because that’s life isn’t it, it’s what we do to just make things work.