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"Maternity leave" for a freelancer
Thread poster: Marina Rich

Marina Rich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
English to Russian
+ ...
Aug 25, 2003

Hello everyone!

It would be very interesting to know how mothers and indeed fathers of recently born babies (in my case this would happen in mid-January) are handling with their inevitable escape from the freelance world for some time. What I am most interested to know is how those individuals manage to keep their relationships with agencies/clients and how and when they manage to return back to freelance work.
I would be especially interested to hear from parents living in the UK.

Thanks.
Marina


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xxxncfialho  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Continue to work... Aug 25, 2003

Hello,
First my congratulations
My baby is to be born in the end of February 2004 and I am living in Portugal where no financail help from the state exists so I will have to continue to work or at least go back to work as fast as possible and while I am away I will try to find a person of confidence that manages to respond my phone and mails...I hope thing will work out like I hope. I cant really stop working Maybe my baby decides to be born on the weekend
Best wishes
Natália


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Andreia Silva  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Never Stop Aug 25, 2003

My second daughter is 23 months. She was born in September 25th, 2001. I didn't tell anyone and in the hospital I managed all emails and jobs. As I have several collaborators, I could send them the jobs and I only had to correct them and send them to the clients. I can't stop and I can't afford of a maternity leave!! So, I only stopped 4 days! When I got home, I continue my work! The main reason I don't tell anyone is because some clients may decide to give me a break, but as this is my way of living, what would I do without work and money?
Now, I will have another baby in December! So, I'll do the same! It is difficult, but possible with a supportive husband and mother!


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Marina Rich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
contradictory Aug 25, 2003

I agree that work shouldn't be stopped, especially if that's a work one really likes. Supportive family is, of course, a great plus, but, apart for finances and earning a living stuff, don't you think that a first year would be great (sensible, enjoyable, etc.) to dedicate just to taking care of the baby and enjoying being a mom? (probably I should address this issue to mama.com forum:)) Another thing is a quality issue: do you think the work can be of a very high quality if most of your thoughts and aspirations are baby-connected?
Sorry, I seem to contradict myself.
I would also appreciate replies from those parents who managed to return successfully to freelance work after a break about which agencies and clients were informed and aware some time in advance.
Thanks.
Marina


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Elena Miguel  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
A very interesting topic Aug 25, 2003

I would be interested in having some input from freelancers in Spain.
Do you face the same situation???
As a matter of fact, I don't consider it fair and I want to know whether there is some kind of private insurance to cover these cases.
Best regards.


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MNP
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
Thinking about the same problem Aug 25, 2003

Marina Rich wrote:

Hello everyone!

It would be very interesting to know how mothers and indeed fathers of recently born babies (in my case this would happen in mid-January) are handling with their inevitable escape from the freelance world for some time. What I am most interested to know is how those individuals manage to keep their relationships with agencies/clients and how and when they manage to return back to freelance work.
I would be especially interested to hear from parents living in the UK.

Thanks.
Marina




Hello Marina,

I have been thinking about the problem myself. I am not pregnant but the thought of managing freelance translation and a child frightens me a bit. I think the best thing you can do is to establish a good network of co-translators you can give jobs to in case you can't do them yourself!

Regards,
MNP


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
No real leave Aug 25, 2003

My son was born on June 10th this year and I was away for only 6 weeks. At the moment, I am working part-time, accepting only work that I can handle.

I didn't tell all agencies I work with that I was pregnant. Those that did not know thought I was away on holiday.

Currently I am working when my baby is sleeping or when my husband is at home (or in the nights). I don't have a nanny or so.


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Very interesting topic Marina Aug 25, 2003

When I had my baby almost five years ago I did not stop working, but I did have a team whom I worked with. During that time all I did was editing my team members' translations.
When my baby was five months old, I accepted a three month assignment (interpreter for the US government) that required me to relocate to a different state. I am glad I did, it was once in a life time experience that I will never forget. I took my husband and my baby with me. Luckily, my husband did not have to quit his job, he did telecommute from the hotel room. At that time I did not accept any translation jobs, I referred them to my team directly. It was very difficult for me since I was working 12-16 hrs a day and still trying to breastfeed my baby. But it was worth it. I am not sure if I still have the energy to do that type of thing again though...
I wish you and all the new mothers good luck with their babies and work.

Monika

[Edited at 2003-08-25 16:24]


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 22:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Two babies - two different stories. What will it be like with number three? Aug 25, 2003

My first daughter Mairi was born in September 1998 - and that's when I really started freelancing. I was home on maternity leave and bored to tears when a call came in for my husband (at the time a freelance translator). I told the agency in question "Well, I don't know about Paul, but I've got a week to go til the baby's due - can I do it?". So they gave me the job and I didn't look back. When Mairi was a little over a year old I figured it was time to get a "proper" translation job and went to work in-house. I learnt a lot, and went freelance again in 2001.

Number two, Rhiona, was born in June 2002 and I worked up to my due date and started back one week after she was born (three days after her due date). So I had ten days off. I had told all my clients that I was pregnant but that I would be back at work ASAP after the birth - and they were all fully understanding. As my due date got nearer I only took "non-urgent" jobs, just in case I went into labor half-way through.

Now number three is due in late February 2004 - right at the start of annual report season (my main period of work in the whole year). This time round I have a major dilema. Now that I've got insurance from the KSK (German institution), I could take 6 weeks of antenatal and 8 weeks of postnatal leave - the KSK would pay me 70% of what I had expected to earn. But that wipes me out for almost all of annual report season if I take the maternity leave.

Going back to work a week after Rhiona was born was TOUGH. I mean really TOUGH. So what do I do this time? Take the paid leave or power on through annual report season with a brand new baby......

What would you guys do?

[Edited at 2003-08-25 17:52]


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:56
French to English
I wouldn't work right away Aug 25, 2003

I've thought about this very thing, even though I'm not planning to start a family right away. Self-employed workers in Canada don't receive aid from the government, so I decided to open a(nother) bank account in which I put 1% of each invoice and that will go toward my maternity leave.

From what my friends who have had babies tell me, mothers (and fathers too!) are lucky to have a shower or sleep in the first 2 months after the birth. There is no way I would even try to add translation work to that! I think the network of colleagues is a good idea, but I also think that clients would be understanding in such a situation if you didn't work for the first 2 months.

My 1%

Erika


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:56
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Gets easier with the number of children Aug 26, 2003

When the eldest takes care of the small ones mother has it easier, they used to say in the old days on farms etc. But that's a joke, of course.
Social security pays for your leave, and pays here in Finland also for fathers during one month, but it's still difficult. With a baby one needs more money than before.
Seems a heroic decision to breed in these days, when more and more people have only short assignments and no steady job.


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:56
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
Hello Marina Aug 26, 2003

I tried to reply to this topic earlier but it didn't work - here goes again...

This is something I've been thinking about (although not as much as I should). We are moving to Moscow in October, and our baby is due in January. So there will be lots of commitments vying for my time for sure. The only answer I have come up with is to have super fast internet and turn down interpreting jobs (too hard to look good!). I'll just have to make do with translations only for a while, I guess.

What you say about being a full-time mom sounds enticing, but I know myself too well - I'd go crazy on the second day.

Anyone know any good nannies in Moscow?


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Andreia Silva  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I don't think that way Aug 26, 2003

Marina Rich wrote:

I agree that work shouldn't be stopped, especially if that's a work one really likes. Supportive family is, of course, a great plus, but, apart for finances and earning a living stuff, don't you think that a first year would be great (sensible, enjoyable, etc.) to dedicate just to taking care of the baby and enjoying being a mom? (probably I should address this issue to mama.com forum:)) Another thing is a quality issue: do you think the work can be of a very high quality if most of your thoughts and aspirations are baby-connected?

Marina


I think the key (in my case) is to have a very supportive family and a team of collaborators. That way I can do the smaller jobs, proofread the jobs from my collaborators and handle all other stuff. Babies sleep most of the time which allow us to work and rest. In my case, I have no choice because if I don't work, I can't feed my children nor pay the bills. This is the only income I have. My husband has made a break in his work to help me with children, and also to proofread my jobs.
And no, quality is not comprimised! I work with my children around (most of the time), and they only disturb me when they cry or scream, which is not very often.
My clients are all satisfy with my services and I keep on getting more!
With 3 children it will more tough I know, but I am trying to find a babysitter to help in most difficult times. That way I can work and be a mother without worrying about of cleaning or putting things in order! Just be a mother, giving love, care and attention!


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Part-time work Aug 26, 2003

I actually took three months off when my ten-month old daughter was born, but that also had something to do with moving only six weeks later and being without my computer for a month while my things were in transit! However, I'd have been working again much sooner if it hadn't been for that. In my experience, working before she was six months (i.e. before she started getting mobile) was a lot easier than it is now, and teething problems when you're trying to do some work can throw a real spanner in the works. It was hard to adapt to distractions at first, but I've got used to it now and usually manage two hours or a bit more during the day and solidly from 9-12 at night, often later if necessary to meet a deadline, but I do sometimes fall asleep at the computer! I'm planning to work very part-time until she goes to school if that is financially feasible. In Britain, there is help in the form of Working and Child Tax Credits, which does help to take some of the pressure off. I'm also far more selective about jobs I take on than I used to be.
As far as clients are concerned, I told all the agencies I had a good relationship with about the birth, and the photo is on my profile page for all to see that I'm a mother. I did lose a few clients (i.e. I haven't been offered work from them since I started again at the beginning of January), but I've also gained a few new contacts since then, and as I only work part-time, it doesn't bother me as I can't cope with all the offers anyway. At the end of the day, I want to spend as much time as I can with my daughter before she starts school. However, having said that, I recommend investing in a playpen and some videos. Alex is a great fan of the Fimbles and the Teletubbies, which she's watching right now while I write this, otherwise, I'd never get anything done or time for myself and would go completely bananas.


[Edited at 2003-08-26 10:12]


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Kit Cree  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
Member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
Depends on you and your baby! Aug 26, 2003

I think your ability to carry on working after having a baby really depends on what your baby's like and how you feel yourself. It's difficult to tell before the birth.
My first son ate ALL the time and barely slept, making it hard to do anything at all never mind work. My second son was far more accomodating and slept for most of the day and night. Also after my first aby I was desperate to get back to work and after the second, my perspective changed and I wanted to spend more time with the boys. Many women feel the exact opposite. Taking a year off is a financial priviledge that many freelancers simmply cannot afford. I would recommend keeping your hand in with a limited number of clients, turning down work with short deadlines - you never know what might happen from one day to the next.
On the other hand, freelancing is an excellant way of combining childcare with work - you don't have to keep a strict timetable like you do in an office and if your kids are sick, you can stay at home with them.


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