Mat Leave and the balancing act
Every country has different labor laws pertaining to parental rights and leave. Here in Canada we are lucky enough to have a full year for parental leave. And now it looks like our mat leave will be extended to 18 months.
This means that not only can you apply and receive Employment Insurance but your job needs to be held until your return (if you choose). Many progressive companies invest in their employees and provide good top up packages for parental leave. With these kinds of perks, it is almost too tempting not take a full year of leave (or 18 months). With my first son, my husband received almost 97% of his salary while on pat leave (he still kicks himself that he only took 4 months off). On the other hand, there are other companies that pay pennies and it makes it tough not to return back to work as soon as you can.
And then there is the mompreneur or dadpreneur who don’t have the luxury of a mat leave cushion. I fall into this category. Unless you are a mom or dad who works for herself/himself, you may not understand not taking a parental leave. Let me enlighten you…I have to work in order to pay the bills. Plain and simple. It’s a bit of a sink or swim situation. Some people think it’s heinous that I am not taking a proper mat leave and spending every minute with my baby.
But I am doing what’s best for me and my family. The good news is I work allot from home so I can spend time with my kids. I can pick them off and drop them off at school and appointments. When I am not a home, my awesome nanny is taking care of my kids and when I return home, I am dedicated to them 100%.
Sometimes it’s tough to be a working mom and not have a proper mat leave. I am often tired and sometimes cranky but I am running a business and am able to set my own hours (most of the time). When I feel guilty about being a working mom, I think about some things such as, if I lived in the United States instead of Canada this wouldn’t be a discussion. Americans don’t really have mat leave or pat leave. It’s usually about a month if you are lucky. I also think about a post I read a while back, where a woman who worked at the United Nations brought her 3 week old baby to work with her in a baby carrier. She was criticized, but I praised her as wonderful example of a woman who was balancing the life of a professional and mother at the same time. It is possible.
So while I don’t do play dates or mommy and baby fitness classes (I probably should) – I am still hyper focused on loving my children all the time (even if I do need to work). Whatever your situation is – do what’s best for you and your family.
Now tell me…how do you mat leave?