Why I’m Not Taking a Maternity Leave

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I’m long overdue for a “Life, Lately” post, and I’m really excited about writing it! I have a LOT to tell you about the last month, and sharing through photos is my favorite way to tell stories. That said, it’s a little daunting, as so much has occurred. (My phone may have run out of space a few days ago, haha. #snaphappy) I also don’t have very much time, and long posts mean less sleep at this point. ;)

While Mitch went back to school last week for administrative purposes, it wasn’t until this week that he actually had students in the classroom. Emma and I no longer could visit him at work, and he unfortunately had to go in early and stay late almost every day in order to get paperwork and other unexpected tasks completed. So for all intents and purposes, this was my first full week on my own with Little Emma–while also working.

Over the last month, I’ve received quite a few questions (and opinions) regarding maternity leave.

Are you taking one?

Right now? No. I did, kind of, when Emma first came… but it was mini: I pounded out a lot of freelance work and lined up about a week and a half’s worth of blog content before our little girl’s arrival, which was so nice. Shortly thereafter, though, I was back at it.

Oh my goodness. You really should be taking a real maternity leave. Why aren’t you taking more time?

Well, here’s the honest truth: Because I’m self-employed, and Kelly Larkin & Co. doesn’t have the funds for paid maternity leave.

Kidding. There’s no such thing as Kelly Larkin & Co.! ;) In all seriousness, though, Mitch and I simply aren’t in the position right now for me to stop working. Would we like to be in the position? Of course! But we’re not. So that’s that.

(And if you’re wondering why we’re not in the position but I feature a lot of nice clothing and shoes, remember what I always say: partnerships and sponsorships are not necessarily a reflection of real life. If I didn’t have this blog, I wouldn’t own what I own, and I try really hard to drive that point home as often as I can. The “style” part of Kelly in the City is meant to inspire outfits, guide well thought-out purchases, and be fun. That’s all! In reality, I am a very, very normal girl.)

But, like, you could at least take a month or two, right?

Yes, I suppose. Fall is my busiest time as a freelancer and blogger, though, and this would be difficult for a multitude of reasons. Instead, I’m simply cutting back in certain areas and working smarter, not harder.

But what about daycare?!

Financially, it doesn’t make sense for us. It’s very expensive in the city (and everywhere else!) and if I went back to work in editorial or education, we’d be spending almost all of my salary on it.

Okay… then what about getting a nanny or babysitter for a few days every week?

Yes, maybe. I’m not there yet, though. Mitch only just went back to work, and I’m still figuring this whole thing out. I’d at least like a month or two to determine this.

…Oh.

I’m just going to be straight with you: I’m taking care of a newborn and working. And I’m happy!

Is it hard?

Oh, yes. It’s definitely hard. This week was particularly challenging, considering that we were without Mitch for a lot of it, and I’m a newbie. But it’s also really, really wonderful. I’m with my little girl all day. And I love it. And what I’m doing is not impossible: I’m able to get work done during her naps, while she’s cuddled up against me (one-handed typing!), and when Mitch arrives home. Hard, but not impossible.

Will this whole situation change in the future?

It certainly might. Emma won’t be an infant forever, and I’ll likely need some assistance–or need to significantly cut back on work–in order to keep up with a toddler. ;) But for now, this what Mitch and I want. And I’m not the first person to do this, either. There are so many parents out there who work from home and take care of their kids. (To those people: you inspire me. Come and teach me your ways!)

In no way am I insinuating that I’m being judged for this decision. And hey: I’m choosing to publicly share my life, so I can’t really complain about any judgment. But I do think, from my whole month (!) of experience as a mother, haha, that we need to support each other and acknowledge that every situation–every child, every family, and every parent, for that matter–is different. And decisions are typically made for good reasons. :)

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I finished up this week’s work yesterday, so I’m spending the entirety of today cuddling with Little Emma and strolling her around the neighborhood. Okay: we might have one little photo shoot to tackle, but psssh. We’ve totally got this!

Next Up: A Day in the Life of Kelly & Emma

  • Grace

    Love this Kelly! I’m not a mum (and I’m deeeefinitely not thinking about it any time soon), but your setup sounds absolutely fantastic to me. As long as you’re managing to make it all work, you’ve truly got the best of both worlds!

  • Gill

    Kelly, you are doing brilliantly so far! Just take one day at a time. I have worked from home since my two little ones were born. The same as you, I managed to get things done while they napped, and then (now) when they have a couple of hours at playgroup or nursery. The ‘free’ time does go very quickly, and you also have to fit in cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc but I wouldn’t change a thing. You can never get back that time with your children. Everyone is different, and some people have to or choose to go back to working outside of the home. I think all Mums do the best they can and are doing an amazing job!

  • Oh my goodness! This is such an honest assessment of being a freelancer and professional blogger! I feel you! Emma is lovely, and your happiness at being a mama just shines through in your posts!

  • You go girl! As someone who also is self-employed and works from home this is something that’s definitely crossed my mind for the future. Sounds like you’re figuring it out more and more each day!

  • This is great, Kelly! I totally admire you! I’d say you’re doing an incredible job. Your sincere and overwhelming love for Emma and Mitch are so evident, and I would never have doubted your intentions for continuing to work. I’ll be praying your “new normal” keeps getting easier every day for you!! Love ya. =)

  • Hannah Roberts

    You’ve totally got this :) I’m not a mom, but I totally think we all need to make our own decisions about raising our families. And the great thing about freelance work is that you can adjust your schedule a bit. So many moms would kill for a chance to stay home while working, even if it is crazy-hard and exhausting!

    • I also think so many moms who don’t work from home don’t actually realize how hard it is. I’m a teacher so get a little glimpse of being a SAHM in the summer and oh my goodness. Nothing gets done! Most of my friends work outside of the home and say how much they wished they didn’t, but I’m not sure the reality really matches up with their fantasy. I think a lot of moms that work at home with young kids probably end up working late in the night to knock out their own stuff.

      • Hannah Roberts

        SO agree!!! I have friends who are staying home full time and watching them has made me realize how hard it is.

  • Hannah Roberts

    You’ve totally got this :) I’m not a mom, but I totally think we all need to make our own decisions about raising our families. And the great thing about freelance work is that you can adjust your schedule a bit. So many moms would kill for a chance to stay home while working, even if it is crazy-hard and exhausting!

  • Erica Gregory

    I love this! I went back to work after 8 weeks and I was so jealous of women who had had babies at the same time as me and were able to take much more extended leave. However, we just weren’t in a position for me to go unpaid for any length of time. And come to find out, it really isn’t all that bad. I hate being away from Finn, but it ended up putting us all on a schedule… which makes him a really great sleeper! You’re right: everyone’s situation is different and we should just be supportive of that!

  • Erica Gregory

    I love this! I went back to work after 8 weeks and I was so jealous of women who had had babies at the same time as me and were able to take much more extended leave. However, we just weren’t in a position for me to go unpaid for any length of time. And come to find out, it really isn’t all that bad. I hate being away from Finn, but it ended up putting us all on a schedule… which makes him a really great sleeper! You’re right: everyone’s situation is different and we should just be supportive of that!

  • I’ve learned that it’s all about what works for you and constantly adjusting your plan/schedule as they grow. I’m a teacher and took a full maternity leave for both kids, but even then quickly learned that managing my work with being a mom was a continual process. And that it doesn’t look the same for everyone, especially if you have different jobs.

    While working from home with your little one offers you a lot of great flexibility I’m sure it will also present a lot of challenges as she grows as to when you’ll actually be able to work! It’s all a process!

  • You are seriously the best. I’m not a mom but I always wonder how moms do it all. You are doing an amazing job and it’s so wonderful!

  • Rebecca

    You’ll figure it out and it will get easier in a few months when your sweet baby will be on more of a schedule. Don’t worry what other people think! Every family is different and what works for others won’t work for you and vice versa! I stay home with my little guy because after taxes, daycare (you’re right about the cost of daycare in Chicago!!), and commuting costs, what little money that was left of my salary didn’t seem worth it!! I know some of our friends and family probably question why I would stay home when I have 2 masters degrees we are still paying off (and some days I do too!), but it works so well for us. I’m happy, my husband is happy, and our little guy is happy too. On tough days when I miss my job (I was a children’s librarian so it really was an awesome job), I try to remember how lucky I am to spend these early months with my little guy and how quickly it goes. I know some of my friends were miserable being home and couldn’t wait to get back to work. Everyone is different and every family is different and your decisions are no one else’s business! You’re doing a great job!

  • Caitlin

    Your transition has seemed seamless from here Kelly! Keep it up, girl! :)

  • Sara Mendoza

    Enjoy this time right now with little Emma because it goes by SO fast! I personally could not be a stay at home mom or stay at home working mom, ‘for me’ I’m a better mother because I work (does this make sense?) as in, I get out of the house for 8 hours, I call work my ‘sanctuary’ and at the end of the day I say to my colleagues ‘I’m going home now to my real job’. Working in an office and crunching numbers and answering emails and going to meetings is good for my anxiety, keeps my brain busy…again, this probably makes no sense, ha!!!

  • Sara Mendoza

    Enjoy this time right now with little Emma because it goes by SO fast! I personally could not be a stay at home mom or stay at home working mom, ‘for me’ I’m a better mother because I work (does this make sense?) as in, I get out of the house for 8 hours, I call work my ‘sanctuary’ and at the end of the day I say to my colleagues ‘I’m going home now to my real job’. Working in an office and crunching numbers and answering emails and going to meetings is good for my anxiety, keeps my brain busy…again, this probably makes no sense, ha!!!

  • You are doing a wonderful job and I hope you two enjoy your day :)

  • Love this! Way to go, mama!

  • Way to go super mama! I am a PhD student, and I continued to take classes (online) when my son was born last December. It was rough but so worth it not to get behind and maintain my full time student status. I bet you’ll become the master of nap time productivity, if you haven’t already!

  • Katie @ Live Half Full

    It is hard to work with a baby at home but it IS doable. I work from home on Friday and am able to make it work. I’m glad you enjoy it!

  • Katie

    <3 this! I work for myself as well and also work from home. In the early months (I was able to take a few months *break* although my best client kept forgetting and calling away :) ), I can remember fielding phone calls while she was sleeping on my chest in the Baby K'Tan! You do what you need to do to make it work! Bravo Mamma!! Eventually I ended up hiring a part time Nanny for a few hours, a few days a week so that I could focus. I 100% agree with Mamma's all supporting each other, and one size definitely doesn't fit all! What's most important is a loving home! Emma is beautiful and enjoy each moment! Mine is 3 now and I don't know where the time went!

  • Khaliah Ferguson

    Thank you for KEEPING. IT. REAL. This is why I follow you. Your site is beautiful but you keep it real for the readers who don’t have $2000 budgets for shoes, clothes, weekend getaways and perfectness. You have done a great job at showing it as inspirational and not “hey look at my perfect life, this is all me, so sad for you.” I’ve stopped following a few blogs for this reason. The pretentious behavior can be a very thin line. Even though you post things I cant get at the time, I don’t feel like Im envying. I feel like, Oh this is nice how much, hmm I may can get that. Not oh nice $6000 purse. Okay well I do follow 1 or 2 high end blogs but I don’t stay on the site long lol. Great post Kelly. Always keep yourself humble. Love that about you.

  • VM

    <3

  • Meghan Keleher

    I think this is so refreshing to hear! I took three months of maternity leave when my son was born last November, but it was a benefit offered by my employer and with additional benefits we were able to afford the time. It was worth every moment, but now that I’ve been back to work for a little over six months I wouldn’t have it any other way. Whether you work from home, work outside the home, or stay at home, being a mother is wonderful and challenging, just in different ways. So happy to hear that you are doing what’s best for you and your family. <3

  • Meghan Keleher

    I think this is so refreshing to hear! I took three months of maternity leave when my son was born last November, but it was a benefit offered by my employer and with additional benefits we were able to afford the time. It was worth every moment, but now that I’ve been back to work for a little over six months I wouldn’t have it any other way. Whether you work from home, work outside the home, or stay at home, being a mother is wonderful and challenging, just in different ways. So happy to hear that you are doing what’s best for you and your family. <3

  • splash of preppy

    Good for you Kelly! You will be a fantastic mother AND professional! Your daughter will soon admire your great work ethic! Enjoy the last couple of weeks of summer with the adorable munchkin.
    XO
    https://splashofpreppy.wordpress.com

  • Jessica Lloyd

    Kelly – thank you for this brave and honest post. You are a classy lady and we readers are lucky for the opportunity to share in your life.

  • Kelly, I have lots of possible ideas on this topic. I’ve been freelancing and mothering for the last 21 years of my daughter’s 24 years. (She had major medical issues early so I dropped out of my career for about 3 years.) When I went back to work as a freelance writer, I worked around her schedule. It works. I think you have best of both — being at home but also doing something you enjoy work-wise.

    When my daughter was young I focused on writing when she was sleeping, like you are doing. As she got older, I found a few nice ladies that wanted part-time work and they came in our home for maybe 10 hours a week. We paid them a premium for the concentrated time and they were really good caregivers. The first one was a nurse that was transitioning toward a different job. The next lady – was a marathon runner, mom of five kids and she had provided daycare in her home. She was ready for something new. I think she took care of our daughter for about 2 years, until school time. Every week or so, we compared schedules and determined the best work days for the coming week. Initially I think she came about 5-6 hours, putting my daughter down down for a nap in the afternoon and once she was out, she left for home. That gave me a good stretch. Later she came right after preschool and maybe she stayed through the nap because they weren’t as regular…I can’t remember. This all worked well; I was there but they rarely needed me.

    One pitfall that I learned the hard way: When my daughter was focused on playing and entertaining herself (and I was on my own) I often got tempted to engage in my work, and did. I later realized that as she was happily playing I was basically ignoring her — trying to get a few edits into a story or whatever. It was awesome and I could get quite a bit done. But then came the time when she would get bored and fuss. That’s when I ran over to her. She learned: Play nice, Mom ignores me. Fuss, Mom is there! It set in motion a problem that persisted. You are probably wiser than me but it is a super easy trap!

    Good luck. I saw Grandpa John a week or so ago at a trade show and told him to say hi to Emma! He seemed pretty thrilled with her. Take care. – Karen

    Gotta go and do time sheets for freelance projects.

  • Congratulations Kelly, thanks for sharing this. I’m proud of you and Emma will be proud of you too when she’s older. I just made the decision to leave WCBC and be a full-time mom. I took 6 weeks off when Little b first arrived, then I worked somewhat consistently for another 6 weeks but the last two months-with his schedule changing, with family events, travel-I haven’t been able to put the energy into it that I want to. It was getting to be unfair to the business (and the members and mostly to Kit).

    Everyone does what is best for their family and in my very slightly longer stint in motherhood, if I’ve learned anything, it is that change is constant.