The discussion began relatively balanced before becoming more pro work at the end. Callers were predominantly promoting a quick return to work, citing the usual reasons from financial need to social reasons.
On reflection of the debate I began to think that the benefits of taking a period out from work weren’t promoted enough. We seem to have the same debate over and over again about whether it’s right to return to work as soon as possible or become a stay at home mum. One aspect that is overlooked is that maternity leave can be an opportunity to take stock, reassess your life and take it in a different direction. Maternity leave brings a chance to study, retrain and even start your own business, mums who do this have become known as ‘mumpreneurs’.
It’s all to easy for us as women and mothers to complain about glass ceilings and inequality in the workplace. I’m not for a second saying that these don’t exist (it’s clear they do) or indeed that it’s right (it’s not) but I don’t see why we don’t focus more on what we are given – a decent period of time out where we can change our paths and opt out of the unfairness and inequality.
Most mums take at least six months out these days and although that period can be physically and emotionally tiresome I personally still felt that mentally I had space for other things – so much so I ended up starting my blog and doing some part time study. As my daughter has grown up I’ve managed to gain an HNC (now working towards a degree) and even start, fail and succeed in business.
It’s been a long and often disappointing and exasperating road but a lot more fulfilling than some of the alternatives. I’d encourage more women to embrace maternity leave and use it to their advantage. We don’t have to settle for the low-paid, part-time, temporary and often dull work that society offers us. If you count up how much you’d earn from a job like that and take off your expenses you may find that starting even the smallest venture could be more lucrative and a hundred times more fulfilling.
Over the five years I’ve been a stay at home mum (albeit with a few part-time jobs) I’ve learned that if you really want to make it happen and you’re willing to sacrifice and put the hard work in that anything is possible and the pay off at the end is huge!
Move from Mum to Mumpreneur in a Month with our FREE e course.
Erica Douglas is mum to Erin, 5, and lives outside Edinburgh. She runs the Littlemummy.com blog and is the author of The Complete Mum Blogger eBook and the Mum Blogger e-Course. Erica won the 2010 ‘Best Start Up’ award at the Business Mums Awards. She is someone I follow closely as 1) she makes a lot of sense, knows what she’s talking about and gives great business advice, and 2) because she has a wicked sense of humour! Not one to miss, so read on and don’t forget that you can also find Erica on Twitter.