How Maternity Leave is Like a Mini-Retirement

How Maternity Leave is Like a Mini-Retirement

When I anticipated my first maternity leave, I thought that I would have all this free time to do what I want.  I had visions of myself on a patio overlooking the cityscape and enjoying a glass of wine with friends while my baby slept in his stroller peacefully.

Boy, was I delusional.

The first few weeks post partum were not like that at all, haha.

Nonetheless, I’m a couple months into my year long maternity leave (thank you Canada) and despite the sleepless nights, I still think that maternity leave feels like a mini-retirement from the daily grind and hustle of my 9-5 job.

How Maternity Leave Differs from Retirement

First off, I’m going to start off reviewing how maternity is not exactly a mini-retirement.  Obviously, you have a newborn and baby to take care of that will take up about 80% of the daylight hours and about 50% of the night time hours.  Between feeding, burping, changing diapers, and looking lovingly at your beautiful miracle, there isn’t much time to focus on your own endeavours, let alone focus on trying to take a shower.

In retirement, you don’t feel so tired, like you got hit by a bus (every day for the first few months) because of sleep deprivation and you don’t feel like you’re in survival mode.

In other ways, I do feel like my maternity leave is a mini-retirement and here’s why:

You Have to Budget For It

Depending on your employer benefits or even whether you are self-employed, you have to budget for your maternity leave unless you’re lucky enough to be taking maternity leave in Sweden, which pays 80% of your income for the full 18 months.  Even if you get a top up from your employer (which may replace up to 70-85 or even 90% of your gross pay) for a few months, you will still have to budget for the remaining year which will only be funded by EI payments.  The maximum EI payment is around $2000 a month.  Unless you’re taking maternity leave in Sweden, which pays 80% of your income for the full 18 months.

In addition to the hit to your income, baby expenses can be very costly in the first year, diapers don’t always come cheap.  Of course, there are lots of free baby stuff in Canada that you can sign up for to decrease the cost.  32 Newborn Huggies diapers can last you three days, haha!

There is Some Income During the Leave

Just like a retirement in Canada after age 60 or 65, you will get some government pensions such as CPP.  However in this case, the government provides you with some income during your maternity and parental leave.  For a 12 month leave, employment insurance will pay you 55 per cent of your average insurable weekly earnings if you qualify.  To qualify, you’ll have had to work 600 insurable hours and also be hit with a 40% decrease in income during your leave.  EI payments will be paid for 15 weeks for maternity leave and 35 weeks for parental leave (which can be shared between the parents).

For me I am getting just over $2000 a month for the latter part of my parental leave, and I’m appreciative of the income and it helps me stay at home with baby GYM for the full year.

In Canada, the Liberal government recently announced an 18 month parental leave, however, the total amount received is the same just dispersed throughout 18 months instead of 12 months.

You’ll Feel Like You Miss Work Initially Then You Don’t

Initially on my leave I was contacting my colleagues and asking about how things were, I was still reading my work emails and wanting to find out how certain meetings went.  Initially I missed work and felt a bit disconnected from the team at work.  I felt a bit left out.  Then I realized I was given this opportunity to spend time with my baby, might as well not waste it thinking about work.

Although I like do like work, I don’t miss the stress and I don’t miss the hustle and bustle.  I don’t miss the exhaustion of coming home from work.  I am exhausted but it’s a different kind of exhaustion, an oxytocin induced exhaustion.  And to be completely honest, I am not too excited to go back to work at the end of this year.  I do miss the beefier paycheque that I was getting when I was working, though!

The Days Go By So Fast

Of course half of the day is spent feeding my baby so obviously the days will go by quickly.  Even though my day is not filled with work from 9-5, the day goes by so quickly.  As I’m writing this it is already past noon and I don’t know where the day went.  I anticipate this will be the same with retirement, you’ll fill your days and it will go by so fast.  In my prolonged retirement, I hope to learn how to play the guitar, how to use Excel, and continue with my physical fitness a few times a week.

I’ve asked my retired friends if they are enjoying it and so far it has been a unanimous and resounding ‘yes’.  Some of my retired friends were initially hesitant to retire, worried about not being able to fill up their days.

You’ll Want Your Partner to Join You

Just like with retirement, you’ll want your partner to join you.  It’s more fun when you have your partner to spend the days with.  I am fortunate that my husband is self employed and I am employed so he is flexible with his schedule and we are able to go to Hawaii for 5 weeks with baby GYM to see what mini-retirement might be like.

Hopefully in about 10 years time this will become reality and mini-retirement will become real retirement!  In the meantime, I’m going to continue enjoying my mini-retirement, or maternity leave.

Readers, do you think your parental leave was like a mini-retirement?  Did it allow you to appreciate the simple things in life and get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind?


About genymoney

GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle.

18 comments on “How Maternity Leave is Like a Mini-Retirement

  1. Maternity leave was exactly why I KNOW I’m not ready to fully retire and am focused on financial independence for the options it brings, not for the ability to quit work. I may change my mind when my son is grown, but for now, working part time keeps me sane, and maternity leave taught me that loud and clear 😉
    Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early recently posted…8 Zero Waste Alternatives That Will Save You Money My Profile

    • @Angela- People have been asking me if I plan to go back to work (first of all I have to because they will make me pay back my top-up if I don’t haha) after the year is done. I think I’m leaning towards a preference for working as well, I couldn’t be a SAHM full-time. You don’t know until you experience it! It’s hard to go anywhere with children around, it takes like double the prep time to get out the door.

  2. Hi GYM!

    *gulps* I guess I was delusional too… I had the impression that maternity leave was going to be so chilled, no? haha. Oh my, I guess I’ll be in for a huge surprise when I have my first child.

    My fiance even jokes about me getting pregnant so that I can go on leave for the year and figure out what I really want to do while taking care of the baby. But I’m sure it’s not as easy as it sounds or looks.

    In your situation, the good thing is that your husband is self-employed and I think flexibility is a huge bonus! If I have a child and I’m at home taking care of my kid, I don’t think it would feel like a retirement since my fiance would be at work, and everyone else is at work. But I’m thinking… maybe it would give me more free time to learn about blogging? haha, unless the baby starts crying and screaming…
    fin$avvypanda @ recently posted…The Wacky Story of Why We Paid Off $20,000 Debt in One Shot — Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

    • @fin$savvypanda- Oh there’s so much no one tells you until you experience it (or maybe they tell me but it goes through the other ear because I don’t listen)! I thought the worse part was labour and giving birth but there are other things that are worse.

      It does give you a bit of time to be creative though! I haven’t had time to read, that’s for sure. I started this blog before my maternity leave started, but I’ve been feeling a bit of the ‘mom guilt’ when spending time on this rather than with baby sometimes. Apparently the nap times are the time you can be creative, that’s when all the mom blogs start coming out of the woodworks, but unfortunately my baby doesn’t like daytime naps so much and they aren’t 2 hours long like they are supposed to be haha!

  3. GYM, Miniature tests of retirement are great to dip your toe in the water. Like Angela says above, retirement is not for everyone. I have had some friends go back to work after retiring. They didn’t enjoy nor know how to use the free time. I’m a big fan of gaining financial independence then working on your own terms at something you enjoy doing. Finding that is not always easy, but the end result can be very satisfying. Tom
    Tom @ Dividends Diversify recently posted…I’d Like to Introduce You to the JohnsonsMy Profile

    • @Tom- Yes, it really depends on your personality. My stereotype/ assumption is that introverted types usually have no problems with retirement because it gives one more time to be creative and be with your own thoughts. My mother in law has been retired for over 10 years I think, and she tries to keep herself so busy but still feels bored sometimes. Good thing there’s a new grandchild to keep her entertained!

  4. Hi GYM, reading your post brings back memories and my wife did all the hard work. Time goes by so fast ! Retirement is not for everyone so Mini retirements are a great way to test out retirement. I am not sure if you can class maternity leave as a mini retirement, I see the similarities but looking after a baby is a lot of work.

    • @Caroline- Gosh I don’t know how you did it! And you had three I believe! Maybe I will change my tune once I have more than one and am on my second maternity leave.

  5. After Baby with Cents was born, I took about a month of leave and Mother with Cents took around three months of leave. Let me tell you, it was not exactly an ideal retirement during the newborn stage. The lack of sleep, feeding, crying and the changing of diapers definitely takes a toll on you especially that first month or two.
    But I see why you would think it feels like a mini-retirement. I took another leave for two weeks when he was around 4 months old and it was more enjoyable since he was a bit less demanding and was able to just look at him and reflect of how much joy it is have a baby. I think that was a small taste of what retirement felt like.
    Kris recently posted…How We Spent Under $16,000 for Our WeddingMy Profile

    • @Kris- Yes! He’s older than 4 months now and it’s much better. I’m getting sleep, first of all (well not last night, last night was not so good) and he’s smiling. The first two months were a blurry haze.

  6. The timing on this is awesome as my wife just had our second son last week! Right now, it does not feel like a mini-retirement at all. Hopefully, when the little one does better with sleeping longer during the night and feeding better it will be. So it’s true that she may be missing work, for now, but that will probably go away soon too 🙂
    SMM recently posted…Your Crazy Spending Helps The Rest of UsMy Profile

    • @SMM- Congratulations!! Two times the fun 🙂 Hopefully the older son can help out a bit (unless he is under 2 in which case it is probably really hectic!)

    • @Damn Millennial- Yeah, 1 year is pretty darn good, can’t complain! I still feel really busy but a different kind of busy!

    • @Dividend Earner- HAHA. Yes, it is probably very similar! The aging parent with dementia who needs total care- it would be very similar I think. I guess you are going into the sandwich generation as well- but one of the pieces of bread is being opened up (your children moving towards university).

      My friend who is retired now said “I’m supposed to be retired but I’m busy taking care of my dad”. So I want to make sure FIRE happens before that hopefully 🙂

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