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Making the most of your maternity leave — how I did it

Priya Sood
9th Sep 2016
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The extended maternity leave of 24 weeks is a relief for sure! But before you know it, 24 weeks go by like 24 hours! As each day brought new challenges, I made attempts to adjust to my new role as a mother. In reality, the adjustment never happened; chaos and confusion became the norm instead. Ironically, 24 weeks is too short a time for a new mom, but definitely a long period for a working professional to be away from her responsibilities.

maternity

It is easy to get carried away in daily chores and lessons. However, a well-devised plan based on pre-determined goals and discipline will ensure you get the maximum out of your maternity leave.

A couple of months before my maternity leave, I started having multiple rounds of very lengthy and extremely open discussions with both my boss and my HR. The more clarity you obtain, the more relaxed you feel about your leave and your subsequent return. It is not a comfortable feeling when someone else takes over your role after all the hard work you have put in, especially if a promotion is expected. I wondered if my role would still be available and if I would be reporting to the same person when I returned. Voicing out all my concerns also gave me a chance to know more about my entitlement. I was assured that when I resumed, I was entitled to a role of my choice, best suited to my abilities and professional ranking, and would be granted a timely promotion irrespective of my leave.

I connected with the HR and other department heads who were looking out for good resources for upcoming projects. During my maternity leave, I was in touch with many of them to take stock of the role and its availability. Mommyhood was overwhelming and a quick conversation with someone who actually talked back was such a relief during my ‘me time’! The professional conversations surely helped me save my sanity at times! It gave me something to look forward to. 24 weeks is just an option. If you decide to go back earlier, feel free to do so without any guilt.

I took this time to bond with my baby and it gave me a new perspective on myself, which I would have otherwise been too busy to realise. Then came the hour of making the tough decision — should I return to work or extend my maternity leave further or shift my career path? The maternity leave allowed me time to think that through. It was then that I realised that parenting was my passion. It is a demanding job involving long working hours, hard deadlines and weekend workload. I wanted to raise my boy myself — not the nanny, not the crèche, not the grandparent — just me.

It was no sacrifice. I did it by choice. Life isn’t about following your boss; it isn’t about chasing money or a position. For me, it’s about being happy and exploring one’s own true potential. All these years, I left my career take over my identity. Today, whenever I introduce myself to someone I tell them who I am and not what I do for a living.

I then took a step back and decided to polish my skills. An online course in digital marketing helped me do that. It gave me the flexibility to pace out my learning as per my baby’s schedule and upgrade my skills. Other hobbies were also such a relief to pursue. It gave me so much of strength and reminded me of how happy one can be if one chooses to be so. Strength to achieve and explore the new came from my motivation to be a role model to my child. The quality time I could now spend with family, also did me good.

Leaving a well-paid full time and stable job is never easy, but chasing a dream gave me the foolishness and optimism to try a new career move. I wanted to develop a career and work on problems that I understood, one that excited me. BabyChakra was one such platform I discovered. I took the initiative to contact the founders and thus realised this opportunity for a challenging yet, part time role.

Your maternity leave is exactly what you make of it. It gave me my eureka moment. What will you make of yours?

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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