Maternity break advice- freelancers
Thread poster: Suzette Martin-Johnson

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
Aug 4, 2010

Hi ladies:

I am due to have a baby this winter and am wondering how long any of you may have taken to get back to translating after birth. Because I've spent time on finishing my thesis and being a housewife I have not worked enough hours to qualify for unemployment insurance so this will be unpaid leave. Thankfully, we have the benefit of working from home in our profession so I am hoping I could at least get back to working part-time fairly quickly. This is a real comedown from when I used to work full time and would have been entitled to three months paid maternity leave, no questions asked!

Any advice?


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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:17
Italian to English
Congratulations! Aug 4, 2010

Hi,

Congratulations on your pregnancy I have two small boys (1 and nearly 3), so I have had to take maternity leave twice within a relatively short space of time over the last few years. Although I qualified for "maternity allowance" in the UK, it really wasn't enough to live on and pay the mortgage, so I had to return to work fairly quickly each time.

With just one child I found I could work when he napped, but I did wait until he was around 5 months old before really taking any work on. I found having a baby was a huge shock to the system and as he was always a poor sleeper at night, I really wasn't awake enough to do any translation work for a few months. I was also exclusively breastfeeding and, with my first at least, this was very time consuming. Of course you may be lucky and have a good sleeper, in which case things may be easier. When he reached 8.5 months I put him into part-time childcare and that made life much easier. By this age he was napping less in the day and moving around, but still not really sleeping in the evening, so some childcare became essential.

When baby number two arrived, I found he was much easier and started working again when he was about three months old. Unfortunately it was hard to synchronise naps, so I mainly worked in the evenings to start with or when my older child was in childcare and the younger one was napping. I kept him at home full-time until he was 8.5 months too, as I wanted to do things the same and also be able to breastfeed etc.

Personally I don't think I would have managed to get back to work any sooner than 5 months the first time and 3 months the second time. However, a lot will depend on your situation, how much your partner is able to help out, whether you have a good sleeper or not, whether you decide to use childcare early on, etc.
I'm sure I have read about other people on here who returned to work much sooner than I did, so it must be possible!

Enjoy your lovely baby when he/she arrives. The early months go so fast and before you know it they are running you ragged like my two do these days, lol

Good luck with it all!


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Inna Kryvoruchko
Ukraine
Local time: 06:17
English to Russian
+ ...
ask your mother to help Aug 4, 2010

Congratulations:):)..

I have no kids so far, but of course, planning to have them. So, yes, I agree with Sonia. From what my "experienced" friends told me, it is possible to start getting back to your normal schedule 6 months after the delivery. But one of my friends (mother or 2 and a web programmer) said that she was able to take her first small job 10 days after the first delivery. That will depend on your physical condition and how well your baby sleeps.

Here in Ukraine, it is normal for grandma (your mother) help a young mother with a baby. So, if your partner is probably working, you spend almost all your time with the baby and plus you need to do housechores... I think there is nothing wrong with asking your mother to come around and help - of course, if you're on good terms. In most cases, that works here, in Ukraine and Russia.

Plus, if you're an owl by your biological clock - you can work at night while your baby is sleeping (if she/he is sleeping:):):))

Anyway, the greatest happiness of your life is ahead. Please, take care and enjoy!


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Anaviva  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:17
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It all depends... Aug 4, 2010

HI

First of all, many congratulations!

Before the birth of my first child, I also spent time wondering about how and when I would get back to work. When the baby was born, all those thought went out of the window as I was engrossed in him and too busy adapting to the new situation, which is the only natural thing to do. I read lots of books and was given lots of advice before my baby was born, but nothing really prepares you for the real thing and everyone is different.

Something did really help though was getting my baby into a good eating and sleeping routine. To start with, I bottle fed fairly quickly (despite the pressure on mothers to breastfeed, it is much more practical for a working mother and often easier for the baby - in my case, I had little milk to give him). Secondly, I was given what I now call my "baby Bible", which helped me established a sleeping routine. It's called "The Baby Whisperer" by Tracy Hogg. You may or may not have heard of it but it is definitely worth getting.

I can say that I was working part-time by the time he was 5 months' old. 0-5 months is a precious and fascinating time anyway so enjoy it!

Lots of Luck

Ana


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Peggy Maeyer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:17
English to German
Congrats and all the best Aug 4, 2010

Hi there,
Congratualtions and all the best for the exciting times ahead. As the others already mentioned, it will strongly depend on the baby when - and if at all - you'll be able to get back into your working routine.

I myself started working again when my daughter (now almost 2) was about 2-3 weeks old. In the beginning, I only accepted jobs with non-critical deadlines so I could plan and adjust my work schedule around the baby's schedule. That worked quite well from the beginning, so I pretty soon was confident enough to take on more jobs, and also those with more critical deadlines. After about 3 months I would say I was almost back to my "pre-birth" work routine (with limitations, of course).

I should mention that we do not have a grandmother or other familiy around who could take care of the baby; I had her with me in my home office all day long and took breaks to (breast)feed, play/go outside with, and take care of her. It was a bit tough sometimes, and you really have to be a well-organized person, but somehow I managed. My husband took over in the evenings when he got back from work. I should say that my daughter always was (and still is) a very satisfied and easy baby. She slept a lot during the day during those first months - only that enabled me to work. Otherwise it would have been a lot more difficult - so it always depends on the individual baby what is possible and what not.

BUT: When my daughter started getting more mobile and crawled around, it became almost impossible for me to work! I pretty much had to stop working during the day and could only accept jobs that I could work on in the evenings/on weekends. That was the point in time when I took a kind of "official maternity leave". She started day care at the age of 1, and only then could I reestablish my work routine.
So: I was really glad that I had used those first 6 or 7 months of her being very small to work, earn some money and, above all, keep in touch with my regular clients.
That's also something you should consider: How long can you dare take a break without risking to lose your regular clients?

Well, again all the best to you and the baby, and for your professional future! All you can do now is enjoy the rest of your pregnancy, not to worry to much, and wait till the baby is there - I think only then can you really decide what's the best in your individual situation!
Good luck,
Peggy


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everyone! Aug 4, 2010

Thanks ladies for sharing all those individual experiences with me and for your well wishes. Peggy, wow!! Your experience kind of sounds like I envision/hope mine is going to be, but as everyone is warning, each mother's experience is completely different.

I am hoping and praying for a baby with a calm temperament like mine who will allow me to get on with it (my little brother was a real trip, but my mom had me while she was at uni and apparently was able to continue studying a month after I was born- apparently I would just lie there, make baby noises, and watch her!). I am suspecting like Peggy that when they start creeping/toddling that I will need another break for some time. So I would love six or seven months of solid income or so before that. I must admit part of this mindset is that for the last year and a half I have taken a break from working full-time hours and am looking at how I can make up for it a bit...even though my timing might be off!

As to Inna's advice, my mom will definitely be coming to help me for the first two weeks - I wish it could be longer but she will be a young grandma with a career of her own and lives abroad. I am originally from the Caribbean and grannies, aunties, cousins and household help are a major part of the culture over there - but being in far-flung Western Canada I will not have that support system. I shall have to come up with a hybrid! Hubby will help but he works eight to five so I can't throw everything at him.

For the moment, I am making hay while the sun shines as I head into my third trimester. At least my thesis has been submitted so all I will do for the next three months is translate. Thankfully I am having a wonderful, positive pregnancy so that helps.


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 05:17
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Completely agree with Peggy Aug 4, 2010

This has been my experience too, and I have three children of 5, 3 and 1½.
First time I started after a couple of weeks, the second time after around 5 weeks, and the third time around 6 weeks.

I also agree that you should not expect too much - except that it will not be easy working with a baby on your hands, and many times you may want to nap with the baby instead of working. Just remind yourself that this will not go on forever!

Congratulations and good luck.


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks P! Aug 4, 2010

I am figuring the naps will happen and very thankful that I'll be working from home. Think how much worse it would be if I had to actually go back to a corporate office!

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Baraa Ajaj
Local time: 13:17
English
+ ...
Enjoy the journey! Aug 4, 2010

I'm 40 weeks pregnant and expected to give birth over this weekend i was wondering the same thing over the last few months ( i had a blessed pregnancy and enjoyed every second of it!!) and i am intending to enjoy every second of my little angel's first months. I was planning to go back to work within 5 months. I've been told that having a baby (especially if that's your first like me) is a bit overwhelming, so my advice to you is to enjoy it, don't rush it and only go back to work when you feel best, because no one knows you better than yourself....

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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Congratulations inocencia! Aug 4, 2010

Thanks for the sharing and have a blessed and uncomplicated birth!

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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:17
French to English
back to work Aug 4, 2010

I have just returned to work this week, our daughter was born on May 16th. I took 3 full months of leave (74 days of which were paid). Sigh, bills must be paid...

This is my second child, and I'm finding that it's much easier to handle everything than it was with my first. Luckily, the baby is already sleeping through the night and is a very calm baby in general. I probably would have had no trouble returning to work in early July, had it been necessary. As others have mentioned, it really will depend on the baby, and how long it takes you to adjust to being a mother.

In any case, part time work should still be possible after a 3-4 week minimum break, starting with small/medium projects and generous deadlines, I'm sure you'll be able to manage at least some work, just remember that your productivity will be reduced. My experience so far is that it takes me twice as long to do anything.

Best wishes to you for the upcoming birth!


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 10:17
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Maternity leave for the husband Aug 5, 2010

Actually, maternity break for a man never exists in my country until a near future. But I confess that I become a full time freelancer because of birth of my son. I had freedom to seek the workplace in those days and I selected the work at home system. Of course, it was year 1989 and Internet was not much helpful.

By working at home, I partially split my time for babysitting without deteriorating my working productivity. Translation job at home saved me much time since I needed not drive for starting a day job.

My country, and many other countries, continuously is facing with few babysitters. I think that a husband should also plan seriously about maternity break of a translation career family. It has more options than employees in general!

Best Regards,

Soonthon L.


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mother's helper Aug 5, 2010

Besides daycare, you can bring a "mother's helper" into your home. Because you are there on site with her, this can be a younger girl (or boy), perhaps 12, who plays with and look after your children when school is out-- for instance, coming in between three and five. In case of emergency, you are present, but you don't have to take time out of your schedule to deliver the kids somewhere. These two uninterrupted hours of work can be very productive.

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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:17
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Help and sleep Aug 5, 2010

Jessica's advice is very practical, get some simple help occasionally or regularly when the baby is a few month old.

There is another warning: a baby sleeps X hours during a 24 hours day. More they sleep during the day, less they sleep during the night!

You will learn how much sleep your baby is satisfied with, but after 3-4 months try to channel more and more sleep-time for the night. It helps if they had a really good last feed for the day. It can be done, but it needs some discipline from the parents to cut night-time baby activities very short. They get used to sleep more at night and it is an important habit to get into. It gives you enough time to sleep as well. Otherwise you don't get enough sleep and it is just a struggle to keep up with everything.

People often say that their second baby was easier, more placid, etc. It can happen, but the reason often is that they are more relaxed, practised mums by then and their anxiety is not transferred to the baby.

Breastfeeding improves with time and more demand produces more milk. Once it goes well, you can read your texts while doing it.

Best wishes and lots of happiness!


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Nice father! Aug 6, 2010

That is so wonderful about the whole paternity leave/freelancing idea in Thailand! Well, it seems from all this advice that I have to remember that everyone mother different, but that a calm baby is helpful, and if mom is calm then the baby is more likely to be so as well. Therefore I will make extra offort to be serene. I will also check out the idea of a mother's helper as my Canadian alternative.

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