What is maternity leave?

Maternity leave is where you’ve had a period of absence before and after the birth of your baby. Time off starts at around 2-4 weeks left of pregnancy. This is depending on what your job title is. Usually, the earliest you can leave is around 11 weeks before your due date. Your leave will also start the day after the birth of your baby if it was early. It also automatically starts if you are off work ill for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week your baby is due.

If you are unaware or concerned if you can get money for maternity leave or not, you should find out your rights. Sometimes you may be entitled to maternity leave with pay. For eligibility, how to claim and entitlement calculator and to fill in a form.

How long is maternity leave?

Statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks long. You do not have to take the full 52 weeks but you must take at least 2 weeks after your baby is born or up to 4 weeks if you work in a factory setting. I would recommend taking the whole 52 weeks off of work. Spending that time with your newborn, watching them develop and being there to bond with them is the most important part of their development. If you want to go back to work or have to for financial reasons, you may want to consider your childcare options.

To see if you are entitled to help while on your leave, use the benefits calculator. Please note that throughout Scotland, the U.S and other countries different rules and law legalities may apply.

Maternity leave in my experience

I myself personally did not have maternity leave. As I worked from home so with both babies I continued to aid my partner with work. As it wasn’t stressful or physically draining I could cope with working while the baby slept. 

I could spend time with the baby, then my partner would stop on the computer and be able to take over with the little one. If I was to go back to working with children again and got pregnant I would with no doubt take maternity leave. I would definitely take the full amount as well.

Why not take some time off to bond with your most precious creation? Whilst getting paid to do it. Plenty of women choose to not go back to work after there leave is finished. This can be because they want a change of job title, or simply because the time off is not enough to spend with their little one.

After a nice comfortable break from work with maternity leave or full time parenting. Going back to work can be a scary thought, especially after having such a long time away, and with so many things to think about.

Do I return to the job that I did before?

Sometimes after having a baby, some people change their mind on the pathway of their career, maybe it's time to have a change. I worked with children since I was allowed to work, I babysat, worked at college (for SEN students), worked with minor learning difficulties in a high school, worked with reception aged children, etc. but since having children I have chosen to stay at home to work alongside my partner. It’s fun, pays the bills and is much easier.

Changing occupation?

Maybe you’ve decided that your old job is not ideal for your situation, or it’s boring to you now that you’ve not done it for a while. There are plenty of job opportunities around all you have to do is ask!  Don’t be afraid, the worst they can do is say ‘no’. You could get a job that works around you and your baby, your partner or child carer can look after your little one while you work.

Working in a shop?

They’re always looking to train new staff up, the pay is low but normally if you have a busy schedule they will put you on a contract that suits you and your life. There is also the option of being self-employed as a freelancer, doing what you love with more flexibility, and usually more money, as the cash flows more direct but expect some bumps in the road on the way! I sing for extra cash, but there are also plenty more things that people would happily pay for such as:

  • Writing articles for a blog
  • Animation
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Photography
  • Videography

There’s so much you could offer, for example, I make money from singing on Fiverr.

Should I make my own company?

Having your own company from home is by far the best way to be. When you are your own boss, you can work around your children, family, and lifestyle without a contract tying you down. You could do something simple like selling your old unwanted items on eBay, its beneficial for you because you won’t have a cluttered house and you make money from it.

You could run your own clothing company starting with making your own hats down to having named clothing you’ve made yourself. Either way making your own company will be challenging at times but who doesn’t like a challenge? Life would be so boring without them.

You could start your own business at home which would mean you could look after your children as well, if you would need to step out to complete work or need more time alone that is also fine.

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