Getting a Longer Break
If you can afford it, you may want to ask for more time off or negotiate a gradual return to the workplace. If money is an issue, you may be able to patch together a longer paid maternity leave by using sick days or vacation days.
If you don't have any extra time off to use, be upfront with your employer: you love and value your job, but you just didn't realize that you wouldn't be quite feeling up to returning to work at six weeks postpartum. You may be surprised by how willing your boss is to work with you — many companies pride themselves on being family-friendly, and they may recognize that if they don't make it possible for you to focus on both your kids and your career, you may end up leaving.
For a variety of reasons, many women have no choice but to return to work by the sixth week, or sometimes even sooner. If you're back at work before your sixth week postpartum, sit as much as possible, don't lift anything too heavy, and don't strain yourself. If your usual job is physically demanding, your employer may be required by law to give you new duties until you're fully recovered from birth.
Though your employer may want to accommodate your needs, the logistics of making it all work may present some obstacles. It may be helpful to come to the discussion ready to offer possible solutions. This could include:
A temporary part-time schedule, gradually adding more and more hours as you and your baby acclimate to the new situation. It may help ease your employer's mind if you plan out exactly how many hours you'll be working each week until you're full-time again.
A job-share situation, where you split your job with another worker (maybe another new mother).
Asking about doing some of your work at home. More and more companies are allowing employees the option of telecommuting — working from a remote location like the home — for some or all of their working hours. You could offer to work in the office in the mornings and at home in the afternoons. Or, you could work in the office certain days of the week, and from home on the remaining days.
Reassure your boss by demonstrating exactly when you'll be able to attend to each of your job functions or make suggestions for delegating certain tasks. If your employer feels that the two of you are on the same page and working together to make your maternity leave possible for not just you but your co-workers, he or she may feel more secure in being flexible.
Consider the Costs of Working
If you want to stay home longer but think you can't afford it, make sure you're considering the costs of working. When you factor in the cost of gas, child care, work clothes, parking, and possibly extra doctor's bills — babies tend to get sick more often in day care than at home — your take-home pay may shrink considerably.
Is This the Job for You?
If your boss won't consider extending your maternity leave, you may want to consider the family friendliness of your workplace. Many situations may come up that will require an understanding employer — your baby may get sick and need to be picked up early from child care, and down the road, you may want time off for school programs and other activities. If your employer won't allow you extra maternity leave, even unpaid, how flexible can you expect them to be in the future? It's important that either you or your spouse — preferably both! — have a job that can allow for unexpected issues that pop up. If your employer isn't likely to allow you to take time off to care for a sick child in the future and your partner's employer is equally inflexible, it may be a good idea for one of you to think about looking for another job.
The Work-at-home Revolution
With the growing popularity of the Internet, creating a thriving home business has never been easier. Moms work from home in a variety of fields, providing data entry, graphic design, accounting, clerical, or medical billing services, or creating their own e-stores to sell anything from jewelry to baby diapers to soaps. Before you start a work-at-home job, make sure you clearly define your goals: Are you doing it for fun, or do you need to make a profit?
If you're replacing a paying job with a work-at-home business and need to earn a profit to help support the family financially, it's very important to look at your venture in a businesslike — and realistic — way. What kind of income do you need to make? What can you afford to spend on marketing, inventory, and other costs like shipping and Web hosting? Where will you find customers? How much can you expect customers to spend? What about returns or refunds? A business plan can help you set goals and limit unnecessary spending. Visit