The year was 2013.
I was 28 years old, and I was about to have it all.
A few months before my oldest son turned one, an interesting proposal arrived in my inbox.
Before giving birth to him, I completed a one year work contract, filling in on a maternity leave. Four months into the contract, I wound up pregnant (surprise!), with an expected due date a few days after my contract was up. (Who said God doesn’t have a sense of humour?)
But now here we were, my sweet nine month old and I, me wondering what I might try my hand at next. With no specific position to return to, I had the positively freeing option of designing a work set up that fit my life (instead of the other way around). But what would that set up look like?
It was then that the email from my former boss popped into my inbox.
She told me the employee whose maternity leave I filled in for previously was pregnant with her second child, and wondered if I would be interested in coming back. The new year-long, full time contract would begin a month after my son turned one.
Even though the timing seemed nearly perfect, I wasn’t quite ready for my little boy to head into daycare just yet. Besides, with the humming and hawing of maybe perhaps a second baby sometime soon, I could very possibly be back home on a second maternity leave soon anyway.
After some discussion with my husband, we created a tailor-made approach that would allow us to have our cake and eat it too.
- The position was of the 40+ hour variety. But, the work didn’t need to be completed during regular work hours. I would do the vast majority of my work on evenings and weekends, when my husband could be with our son.
- I would stay with my son at home for four days of the work week and go into the office for one. My husband would strategically use his vacation time and banked overtime across the 52 weeks of the year to spend that one day a week with our son.
- I would make arrangements to have someone babysit (mostly granny, who loves hanging out with her grandson) if I needed to call into a meeting during regular hours. I would also avail myself during regular working hours in an emergency via Blackberry.
Beside the obvious benefits of being able to do a job I thoroughly enjoyed, staying home with my son, and having my husband own a slice of the caregiving pie, there were also financial benefits: a year of an amazing salary without the cost of daycare and transportation.
My boss — an unabashedly opinionated company veteran unafraid to do what she thought was best — agreed to the plan. I felt incredibly fortunate to report to a woman forward-thinking enough to recognize that the quality of my work would be sustained regardless of where I worked from and when I did it.
An avid student of The Four Hour Work Week, I was going to put Tim Ferriss’ tips into action to condense my work time while maintaining the quality of my work. I attended/scheduled meetings only when absolutely necessary. When in the office, I seriously minimized office chit-chat. I created a permanent out-of-office message to let email senders know I worked outside of regular working hours and that they wouldn’t receive a response until later. When I did check emails, I did it sparingly during my working hours, to minimize distraction and allow for focus on my actual work.
And because this work would allow me to claim the maximum amount of Employment Insurance for another maternity leave, I was gonna get pregnant again too!
Let’s see: Disposable income… a full kitty of work hours for a second mat leave… and no other job to have to answer to at the end of it? It sounded about perfect to me! And much more carefully planned out than last time. (Heh.)
This was it: I had a plan.
I would have my husband, baby and baby-on-the-way, my house and car, my family and career.
I would do it all.
I would have it all.
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