Maternity Leave – How long is too long?

I knew from the moment I found out that I was pregnant that I would be taking 12 months off work. There was no disputing it, I wanted to take it and I would. I’m currently 7 months in and the thought of having to go back to work makes me want to cry! I can’t imagine being away from Charlie.

Most people I know aren’t able to take a year off work, and I completely understand why. Had I not been in a fortunate financial situation then I would probably be going back to work in September. Statutory Maternity Pay commonly known as (SMP) is what I’ve been surviving off from around 6 weeks into my maternity leave. But I can tell you, had I not had extra cash I wouldn’t still be on leave.

We are very lucky that our mortgage and bills and very low compared to most people. Even with manageable outgoings the £147 a week doesn’t cover my outgoings, so every month I’ve had to use money from my savings account. From September onwards I won’t receive any SMP at all as it’s classed as unpaid additional leave. But, I’m ok with that because I’m just not ready to go back to work just yet.

Would I take 12 months off again if we have another baby? Absolutely. Why? Because I can honestly say I have had the most amazing time with Charlie, and I’d rather struggle a bit than not have these moments and watch him grow. What I do know, is that I will 100% plan more carefully, I’ll make sure I put more money aside into my savings account.

I decided not to do shared parental leave with Matt as Charlie was our first baby, but I would definitely consider it on our second. Shared parental leave means I could give say a month of my maternity leave to Matt if I wanted to. I actually think Matt would love it because he always says how much he would like to be at home with Charlie more often.

So, I don’t think a year is too long, and I don’t think 6 months is short. I think it depends on you, your lifestyle, your financial situation. Whatever works for you then do it! Don’t listen to what you should or shouldn’t do. Weigh up all of the options and decide what fits best for you and your family.

I can honestly say this has been the best time of my life!

H x

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