I am a self employed accountant, and I need your advice on the best way to handle my maternity leave for our first child. My clients all require face time for any hours billed and are not open to my working remotely. In anticipation of the baby, I have started looking for new clients so I can work remotely with them and let go of the clients who insist on face time only.

However there is one of my key current clients that I want to keep. The commute to their office is 20 minutes only unlike other clients and I can do the work with my eyes closed. To avoid being replaced, I want to propose taking two weeks off and then coming back to my normal working hours with them – 18 hours spread over 3 days. All the other clients who insist on face time will be given enough notice to find alternative arrangements as my due date approaches.

My husband is happy to take several months of parental leave with my family who live nearby also happy to help while I return to work part time. Our plan is to then get a nanny to come to our home 3 days a week once he returns to work.

I know going back to work 2 weeks after having the baby will be tough but I am keen for my income to not drop to zero and the money worries that will come with that. Also I think of it as a sacrifice that I will only have to make once, now that any new clients I take on will be on a remote basis.  My goal is to work a maximum of 30 hours a week so the rest of my time can be spent with my family.
Also, my personality type is INTJ,

Do you think the plan is feasible and what advice would you give so I can succeed. Thank you.

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13 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I really do not think it’s reasonable. I’m sorry.

    1. You need a primary caregiver. The baby will want you, not your family or your husband, and it will frustrate them. The baby, especially at two weeks, needs a constant caregiver. (Google that.) Women who want to go back to work right away usually have huge jobs where they have enough power to bring the baby to work. (Marissa Mayer, for example, or startup founders.) Or the women have a full-time nanny who is the primary caregiver during infancy (Sheryl Sandberg). And other women have a husband who is the primary caregiver (women who are not bazillionaires).

    2. Working 30 hours a week on the third week of having a baby will kill you.
    I did that and I ended up in the mental ward eight months later. You are at HUGE risk for port-partuum depression taking no maternity leave. I know lots of women who did not take maternity leave (most women who own startups cannot take leave) and we all say we would never in a million years recommend it to someone else. But most cannot say it publicly – it would hurt their career.

    3. Over the long-term a client that needs 30 hours of face-time over three days each week is not sustainable. It’s very demanding and inflexible. You should be able to find clients who are more flexible. What seems like a good job before kids has nothing to do with what’s a good job after kids.

    4. You need to work, but you should put taking care of the baby first. You are good enough at your job that you should be able to call the shots more than you perceive you are able to. You are an INTJ! You are better than anyone else at work! You can run circles around people! Believe in yourself more and fire clients that are not flexible enough for you.

    5. As an INTJ you will always be phenomenal at work, and taking care of children will always be hard. Children are not predictable, logical, or easily managed. You will have to build emotional skills that you haven’t had to use until now. Allow yourself to focus on that during the start of your life as a mom. It will be time and energy well spent.

    Most families that rely on the woman’s income go into debt, or at least deplete their savings, in order to get through infancy. That’s not a bad idea. You only get one year with an infant. You will be in the workforce 60 years. Perspective is important when making these sorts of baby cost-benefit decisions.

    Good luck!

    Penelope

  2. Di
    Di says:

    It’s a good job you can do the work with your eyes closed coz you will probably struggle to keep them open.

  3. Becky Castle Miller
    Becky Castle Miller says:

    You will need more than two weeks just to physically recover from childbirth. Longer if you have a c-section. I’m speaking as a mom of four who is fit and healthy and had good pregnancies and births. You will delay your recovery and possibly cause complications if you don’t rest and focus on recovery, breastfeeding, and bonding for several weeks after birth. (I was too active – even just walking around the house and doing light housework – after my third child and I started bleeding and passing large blood clots. After my fourth, I literally stayed in bed for four days, and I recovered much sooner.)

  4. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    INTJ with a baby here. I worked remotely during my maternity leave, starting from about 2 weeks. It was manageable because it was task based, rather than hours based. An hour a day was enough to keep up with the urgent and important things…because I’m fast and efficient. Hours ramped up as my projects did, and I was lucky that the timing worked out well. I went back to work (in person) for half days around 3-4 months, then back full time around 6-7 months, with my husband staying at home and about 12-15 hours of childcare/week so he could do some work during business hours.

    The physical recovery time is really important. My midwife explained that, if you are moving around (housework, commuting, whatever), your uterus relaxes and seeps blood. Strictly abiding by her ban on housework for the first 6 weeks (no dishes, no folding laundry, no nothing – I was allowed to take a little walk with the baby for the sunshine, but that was it!), made a huge difference on getting the bleeding to stop and avoiding complications and anemia. So I’d do what you need to do to avoid the in-person work (even 18 hours a week is too much at 2 weeks) for 6-8 weeks. (6 weeks for a normal delivery, 8 weeks for a C-section)

    Good luck and congratulations! Babies are a lot of fun, even though it is totally frustrating that they do not understand cause and effect. Try not to take it personally when they pull off your breast and then scream (at your breast) because they are no longer on the breast.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Carolyn, it’s great to have an INTJ giving advice to and INTJ. Its fun to see, as well. If there is anyone who would want to be working after giving birth it would be an INTJ mom. Taking care of a baby would be so difficult for an INTJ and working is such an incredibly perfect fit for the temperament of an INTJ.

      Also, it means a lot to hear that even you, and INTJ, wouldn’t go right back to work!

      Penelope

  5. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    1. It sound like the husband will be the primary caregiver for 3 months, and then a nanny.
    2&3. I think she said 18 not 30 hrs/week

    I wonder if it would be possible to negotiate with the client you want to keep. Could you work remotely for them for 3 months with the promise that you would be back in-person after 3 months? I would think it would be easier for them to deal with 3 months of remote working than finding and training a new accountant – but I don’t know accounting.

    I have had several friends work 28 hours/week in my office starting at month 4 with multiple kids (meaning it went OK enough with the 1st that they did it again with the 2nd).

  6. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    I wanted to weigh in and just point out that there are vast differences in each mom’s pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum experience. A friend of mine went back to teaching 2 hour classes twice a week, after a C section, within a few weeks. I walked 8 city blocks pushing the stroller, no problem, when my first baby was 4 days old. The idea of no housework for 6 weeks postpartum sounds preposterous to me, based on my experience with 3 pregnancies and births and a husband who travels frequently and never took more than 1 week off for each baby . A lot of it will depend on your birth and recovery experience, the kind of baby (happy or cranky, good sleeper or not) you wind up with, and how smoothly things go with your husband and family filling in. I think your plan sounds hard, but you acknowledged that. And your expectations beyond getting to work, feeding baby, and sleeping should be zero from week 2 to about week 6. I don’t mean to disregard the experiences and concerns of others, but I did want to share another perspective. I think you should go ahead with your plan.

  7. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    I wanted to add one piece of information as a fellow INTJ mom. Something I wasn’t prepared for, Baby Blues, intense deep random emotions that border on psychosis. I’m usually pretty straight, logical, intense yet systematic. When those surges of emotions came on…it was really scary because I never experienced those kinds of emotions. They went away around 6 weeks and I went back to my normal self, but I just want you to be prepared for that experience because it is very bizarre. I understand you wanting to plan out the next six months, it’s comforting, but give yourself some flexibility if you feel you need more time to recover.

    • Becky Castle Miller
      Becky Castle Miller says:

      Any time we talk about baby blues and post-birth emotions and moods, it’s a good idea to throw out there that postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis (and OCD and anxiety) are serious mental illnesses that go beyond “baby blues.” Take note of any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, or lingering sadness, or unreasonable panic, or a basic inability to enjoy things you used to enjoy and tell your midwife or doctor at your check-up appointments. Or make a special appointment to tell her. It’s vital to get help for a postpartum mood disorder!

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        You are right, I should have just casually thrown it out there. My youngest child is nearly 3 so I feel that I can safely say I had Baby Blues with all 3 and it went away generally around 6 weeks postpartum. I didn’t do a daily journal, but I kept track of the weeks it lasted to let my OBGYN know it could be postpartum depression, thankfully I never had it go that far, and I shouldn’t have willy-nilly said “psychosis”… but I’m someone who doesn’t experience sadness or depression, and I think it’s an INTJ personality trait, so I just wanted to make a fellow INTJ aware that strange emotions happen. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  8. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Another thing to think about, at two weeks postpartum you haven’t really established a breast-feeding rhythm, so imagine obvious milk leakage through your breast pad and through your shirt during these face to face meetings…awkward! If a favored client can’t give you a decent maternity leave, then they aren’t worth keeping as clients…even if you have to totally rebuild your client base you need to do what’s best for you and your newborn, you two are linked for a time.

  9. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Another INTJ mom here. With a two year old, five month old, and full time job. I agree on all fronts with other commenters here – you need to take the time to heal emotionally and physically, and establishing a good milk supply should be your #1 concern in those first 6 weeks (assuming you plan to BF). Being away from your baby will make that difficult and physically uncomfortable for you. In those first 6 weeks you will be a mess beyond your wildest imagination. And it’s ok.

    I LOVE working, and on this last maternity leave I probably could have gone back at the earliest around 8 weeks. I took 12 weeks and then went back full time. My first mat. leave was horrific – preterm baby made nursing VERY difficult, and I had a hard transition to motherhood. But the second mat. leave was a dream.

    Best of luck.

  10. Becky
    Becky says:

    My experience with my first baby was that the first 6 weeks were like living in an alternate universe.

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