So the day has come. I am going back to work, after 5 months of being off on maternity leave. If you read my post about 3 Ways I’m turning my maternity leave into an early retirement practice run, I had big plans for my time off. I’ll admit, I was pretty optimistic about what I could accomplish and how I would spend my time. Even with help, having a 2 year old active toddler and a breastfed newborn is a lot of work. My days were for the most part unpredictable. As soon as I got one to nap, the other needed me for something. So during my leave , I took a step back and adjusted my expectations. I just wanted to be in the moment with my boys and enjoy them. That’s it. If I got things done for the blog, great, but I wasn’t going to beat myself up about not getting things “accomplished”.
Despite my overall crazy days, I think I got a good amount of things done while I was out. I revamped my overall vision and goals for the site and I continued to budget and run the family finances. And I am proud to say, we are still on target to accomplish our short and long-term goals.
But as I am at the end of my maternity leave, I cant help but wonder if I should’ve took more time off. Technically, I could’ve stayed out of work longer as my job gives me up to 6 months to be out. This would have me return to work sometime in December or January which sounds great but I would have had to forgo getting paid for that additional time being out of work.
The issue with that is, that the longer I stay out of work, the longer it deters me from accomplishing my long-term savings goals. So the question I asked myself was, should I stay out of work longer and have more time off with my children or go back to work earlier in order to make more money and keep us on track for our financial goals?
It’s a proposition many working moms and dads have to ask themselves. Do you spend more time out on maternity leave even if that means giving up money and career advancement so that you can bond with your child or do you go back to work as soon as you can in order to pay the bills and keep the lights on? For some, this is not even an option because they don’t have paid maternity leave. Luckily for me, I work for a company that does offer a relatively generous paid maternity leave structure.
I chose to return to work earlier than my allotted maximum time off because for me at this stage in my life, it’s important to keep on track with our financial goals. If becoming financially independent by the age of 40 is going to be a reality, then we need to continue on our aggressive course of saving. Not working for an additional month and foregoing that extra income would set us back, albeit not by much but enough to pump the brakes on the awesome financial momentum we have going on.
While spending quality time with my sons is the top priority, I am also considering the future I am envisioning for us as a family. If we stay on course with our financial saving plans, I will have even more time to spend with them in what I consider their formative years. And that’s what life planning and setting goals is all about. You have to weigh the opportunity costs of giving something up now and what that means for your future.
At face value, it may seem like I am giving up time with my kids for just more money but that’s not entirely true. I am choosing to work in order to continue to provide and prepare for even more flexibility and quality family time in the future. These last 5 months home with them have been absolutely amazing and I feel as connected to them as ever.