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Too much maternity leave? One mom thinks so

Can you imagine feeling like you have too much maternity leave? Stacie Lewis lives in England, where she's entitled to a full year... but she didn't want to take it all.The principal of my school emailed me this week asking for my maternity leave dates in writing. It would help with their long-term planning, he explained, in regards to hiring a substitute teacher. “Of course,” he added reassur

Can you imagine feeling like you have too much maternity leave? Stacie Lewis lives in England, where she's entitled to a full year... but she didn't want to take it all.

The principal of my school emailed me this week asking for my maternity leave dates in writing. It would help with their long-term planning, he explained, in regards to hiring a substitute teacher. “Of course,” he added reassuringly, “you have the right to change your mind at a later date.”

I wrote back with my dates, June 20th, 2011 until March 26th, 2012. Nine long months.

I felt a little guilty when I typed up my letter. In Britain, I am entitled to longer than nine months. I’m entitled to a year.

A full year of maternity leave is not the only benefit of giving birth in the UK compared to the US. Here, most women receive 90% of their salary for six weeks, and £128.73 (about $190) from the government every week for the first 39 weeks. That is in addition to personal arrangements between employer and employee; in my case, as a teacher, I am entitled to more pay than this.

How can I justify not taking more time off if I am both allowed it and paid for most of it?

Well, for one, I love my job. I love teaching. It’s not just the thrill of standing in front of a classroom of teenagers (yes, I like them) or the fact that I get to study a subject I love every day seen through their eyes, but also because I love that it is NOT my family life. I love that I get to eat my lunch in peace and when a child throws a tantrum, I have the power to kick them out of my room. You can’t do that with your own family (though you may be very tempted).

It is rewarding and pleasurable and I can’t imagine not doing it.

But, does that justify my decision to not take every single bit of maternity leave offered?

Absolutely.

I don’t think I even need to justify it. I subscribe fully to the “take as long as you feel is necessary” camp. Want to quit your job to stay at home? Good for you! Want to go back to work as soon as possible? Go for it!

My husband and I decided the length of my leave by considering what would best serve our children. Factors such as my sanity and full pay check definitely influenced how we felt about that.

Besides, like my principal said, I have the option to change my mind. It just so happens, I don’t think I will.

Too long or too short? How do you feel about maternity leave?

This blog post came from our friends at BabyCenter's Momformation blog. For more, check out these links:

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