Why Maternity Leave is so Complicated for Career Women

pregnant woman

Justin Trudeau is a breath of fresh air. He’s handsome, charismatic, and passionately shares his long-term vision. I like that.


He’s also a leader with a heart.


I adore his sweet bromance with Obama (#TruBama), just as I adore his promise to extend maternity leave. His plan? To increase mat leave from 12 to 18 months and inject more flexibility. Under his new plan, both parents will be able to share time in ways that work for them.


Check out his promise.


Yay for progress!




Don’t cheer yet. Until the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, it’s our collective duty to hold Trudeau accountable.


Talk about it. Keep it relevant. Sign this petition, created by Toronto Mommies, to help spread the word.


The reason this interested me wasn’t so much the context. I wasn’t aware most daycares don’t accept children under 18 months, leaving a 6-month gap after the current limiting 12-month maternity leave. During this gap, middle class and low income families struggle to pay for childcare forcing one parent to stay home, or spend all their salary on dreaded daycare bills. It was a comment I read on the petition’s page.


“…it does not make any sense for a mother or father to go back to work only to use up their earnings on childcare and what’s worse, miss out on our baby’s important milestones.”

– J. Keffer, Aurora, ON


If I have to work just to pay for daycare and also miss my child’s most precious moments, why bother?


We’re lucky in Canada. We already receive 12 months paid (although capped) maternity leave, and partners are encouraged to share that time. I’ve always wanted my future baby daddy to take time off. It’s only fair he has equal opportunities to bond with our little bundle of giggles.


We’re also fortunate employers don’t have the right to fire us, or reduce benefits while on maternity leave. But that doesn’t mean you will come back to the same job, team, or office at the end of your leave.


Learn more about your rights (in Ontario) here.


So it’s agreed, we are extremely lucky in this country to have the choice to spend lots of time with our growing newborn. People in the U.S. aren’t so lucky, and many have a painful choice to make, whether to stay home or go back to work after 12 WEEKS.


I’d like to interject and bring up the importance of career in your life plan. Does an extended maternity leave relegate career momentum? I’m still on the fence.


Many people love their jobs. It’s a form of self expression. Just because we want children, doesn’t mean we sign up for career regression.


It’s important to integrate work and life, even in the planning stage.


I don’t have kids nor will I in the next year, but I am thinking about it. Sheryl Sandberg would argue that I’m half way out the door, limiting myself by entertaining my thoughts of how to balance it all too soon.


It’s my job, helping you (and myself) understand how to handle it all when we want it all.


I will give Ms. Sandberg this, she makes a remarkable point in her book Lean In regarding changing perceptions of child care expenses. I’m paraphrasing her words, “think of money you pay towards childcare as an investment in your career.”  My words: by taking an extended maternity leave, you may be flushing your experience and hard work down the toilet, so why give it all up? How can we sustain career momentum and have children?


That’s why I am in love with this new plan. Partners can share 18 months of time, divided to suit unique needs. We can alternate months, weeks, or dare I say days? The company you work with may be the limiting force. My question would then be, does the company fit your plan?


More on that another day.


I am encouraging you to sign this petition if you are excited to have more flex time.


And reminding you not to step out before exploring ALL of your options. You must prioritize all of your dreams, even when motherhood is one of them.


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