Tag Archives: maternity leave

That’s My Daughter in the Water

When I got a promotion at work about a year ago it meant that I had to up my working days to 4 (plus a little more).  As a result and in order to make things work for our family, The Native arranged to go down to 4 working days.

Mondays are his Daddy/Daughter Day with The Duchess and to be honest, I never anticipated they would become what they now are.

He makes such an effort to take her out and do things with her.  It has genuinely become a time that he cherishes.  With my marathon of a maternity leave now only days away, we are both grieving losing that Monday because we know what it means to her and we both understand and see that it has really come to be something quite special for him, too.

Today they had a day out in Wells in Somerset.  They visited a tractor shop – as you do in the West Country – and then went on to the stunning Wells Cathedral.  Image

They trundled around the Cathedral, charming (at least in The Native’s account of things) the older visitors.  But the best bit of the day was walking around the moat.  The Native showed me this picture when I got home.  I love her mischievous face.  It tells a story.  And there is definitely a story there.  Image

“I told her that if she caught a pigeon, she could keep it.”

Thankfully she hasn’t yet inherited my insane fear of pigeons and seagulls (and I will argue that there is a VERY good reason to fear them).  She took the challenge seriously.  As a girl should.

Image

“But then she came across this freakishly over-confident pigeon.  The thing wouldn’t move and came right up to her.  She was reaching out to grab it and I had to scream, ‘DON’T TOUCH IT!'”

Hey.  He set the challenge.

Even when The Native “loses” his Mondays, long may Daddy/Daughter Days reign.

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216

216.

I mentioned that while on maternity leave I haven’t been counting.  I’ve instead been living in the Zone of Timelessness and soaking up the fact that the main responsibility I had for 11 months was to be with my daughter.

But now it’s over.  This week I return to work.

And honestly, I’m okay.

The irony is that one of the reasons I’m okay is because of counting.  216. Continue reading

In Time

I’ve spent a lot of my life counting days.  In school it was the days to Christmas break when I would get to see my extended family and eat myself ill on my aunt’s peanut butter pie or the countdown to the 2.5 month summer holiday, where the heat would lead me to laze around someone else’s pool (American Resident Rule  #1776: always make sure you are friends with someone with a pool).  As I got older and summer breaks sadly became a thing of the past, it was simple, the days until the weekend, the days until my next paycheck, the days until that holiday that I really needed – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.  We spend a lot of our lives counting away days. Continue reading

Working 9 to 5

Instead of writing a big, boring paragraph about maternity allowance in the UK that has far too many numbers in it, here’s a quick summary:

  • If you are employed you are allowed up to 26 weeks paid maternity leave.
  • But a lot of businesses will allow you up to 9 months paid leave.
  • You can take an additional 3 months of unpaid leave, if you wish.
  • You also accrue annual leave while you’re on maternity leave.  Mine amounts to 28 days of annual leave each year.  You can tack any amount of your annual leave onto the end of your maternity leave.
  • If you don’t use all of the maternity leave you are entitled to, your partner/husband has the right to take what is left of your maternity leave as paternity leave. Continue reading

Life’s Little Inconveniences

Years ago when the Native and I were back in the States for Christmas we saw this washing and dryer set that were being sold for a family home.  It came up to our necks in height.  It boasted that it could wash up to 18 pairs of jeans.  And I say it again to my British readers out there, 18.PAIRS.OF.JEANS.   Let me put that into perspective for my American readers, when I load our washing machine here I honestly feel that I am taking a risk if I put in more than two pair.

Whether you’d like to admit it or not, America is a country of modern conveniences.  I find myself thinking about this more since I have become a mom because the British household, while undeniably comfortable, often doesn’t carry the same level of modern convenience that I was afforded when I lived in the U.S, and I have to wonder is it easier to get those parental jobs done in America than it is here.

While some Brits do have dishwashers, I would say at least an equal number have a different kind of dishwasher.  It has ten fingers that, multiple times a day, are getting sweated up in a pair of bright yellow marigolds.  I would LOVE to have a dishwasher, but even if we bought one we’d have no where to put it, because of lack of space.

photo via wilkinsonsplus.com
So fashionable, so chic

And then there’s the laundry.  Oh the laundry, always waiting for me, staring at me, telling me to do more because the thing is, while we do have washing machines, many British households don’t have tumble dryers.   That’s right; we hang out clothes out to dry on sunny days and drape them over airers on the remaining 355 days of the year.  I find this mind-boggling since a “hot” summer (we’re talking 80F) has now become a thing of nostalgia, maybe even folklore on a present day school playground.  This, coupled with the fact that people start to think apocalyptic thoughts about global warming if we get through a week without rain, makes me wonder why tumble dryers aren’t everywhere.  But they are expensive to run.  They take up space that people don’t have.  They are just something that we can do without.

photo via amazon.co.uk
Reckon there’s a way for hot air to blow out of one of these?

And without the wonderful hot blast of air that presses those wrinkles out of wet clothes, once our clothes are hung, they usually need to be ironed, too.  My pile of ironing is supernatural in that it is infinite.  I get through one and another is waiting.  It’s just the way it is.

I understand within all of this moaning and groaning about how ‘easy’ those Americans have it with all of their bright, shiny, glorious appliances (sigh), while my American working mom friends get only 6-8 weeks of maternity leave (if any), I am now enjoying my 9 months at home with The Duchess.  So while living here means that the practical inconveniences might be a bit of a nuisance sometimes, I’d choose those 9 months of cuddles at home any day, even if they are over a massive pile of wet laundry.

The Walking Dead

In those glorious university days when I had time in between lectures I would often head back to my condo, curl up in my bed and take a nap….or what I considered a nap.  They would regularly last 3 hours.  My roommates quickly pointed out to me that for some this wouldn’t constitute a nap, but a full night’s sleep (I expect these are “people” who must be robots rather than human beings).  My friends would eventually dub them “(my name) Naps.” You can call them “Foreigner Naps.”

So as I’m sure you can predict, one of my biggest fears while I was pregnant was that I would become a Mombie or a Mommy Zombie, strolling around like the Walking Dead and resenting The Duchess for stealing my precious sleep for weeks, months, possibly years.  As a thirsty man walking through a blazing desert hallucinates about water, I feared I would hallucinate about my Foreigner Naps and eventually lose my mind.

For this reason I decided to read up a bit on sleep routines and how to get a baby to sleep through the night as soon as humanly possibly.  I will admit that I don’t think ONE method or ONE “professional’s” opinion is the be-all, end-all so I tried to listen to what different people were saying and make a decision that would best suit us.

I ended up picking up The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford.

She claims that your baby is more contented when they know what to expect and when they are getting good sleep.  She outlines how to go about implementing a structured routine and make changes to that routine as the baby gets older.  Once The Duchess was feeding well I started to put some of her principles in place (I say “some” because she was too hardcore for me, but I felt I could use what she was saying with flexibility).  Gina Ford is pretty controversial because where in the UK midwife’s instruct expectant mothers to let babies feed on demand, Gina Ford instructs you to set a schedule for feeding and specifically get them into a routine where they are having sufficient feeds during the day so that you know they don’t need those feeds at night.  And the result?  The Duchess began to sleep through the night between 6-8 weeks old and thank goodness because I’m sure that I would have dropped dead from exhaustion (well, at least felt like I was nearly dead).  My hunch is most American moms veer towards this kind of method because while UK maternity leave is 9 months, America’s is generally 8 weeks.

She will have an off night from time to time and I’m sure once teeth start to make their appearance, we will be in for a very unwelcome block of sleep deprivation, but I’m so glad that we put our own spin on Ford’s principles and got her to sleep early or else that Mombie would have been curled up in a corner in the fetal position muttering something about the glory days of 3 hour naps….

Question: My very ill-informed take on things is that my American friends seem more likely to put practices like Ford into place (perhaps because maternity leave is only 8 weeks).  Are you British or American?  How did you approach the sleep/feeding issue?  With what results?