Five years ago this month, I was wandering around London with my friend Carla and our babies…hard to believe!
Although I still have the kid (he’s much bigger), jacket (stored in Ireland for now) and boots (only ones I can get on at 33 weeks pregnant).
And we only donated the diaper bag recently to get one with more pockets. 😂
As two women working remotely from home, who were both Permanent Residents in the UK but not Citizens, navigating a new health care system, giving birth to overdue babies born days apart, without a local support network…we had a lot in common!
Life in London
At the time, I was working remotely as a freelancer, far from family and friends, and wasn’t entitled to any paid parental leave.
My husband and I had been living off of one income for a while, as we had spent a few years living and working in Australia, before relocating to Europe, and were saving up for our first home…eventually in Ireland or Canada.
When I became pregnant in London, we decided to apply for his Permanent Residency in Canada and play it by ear, as the approval timelines were anywhere up to two or three years before we’d be able to all move together as a family.
Many police checks, a medical exam and lots of document filing later, we submitted the application, I kept growing our first baby and working remotely.
Much to our surprise, we were granted his PR in under six months, before the baby was due and were able to start thinking about our next move…with a kid in tow!
That summer, our first son was born, we began looking at wrapping up our time in London around our lease end date the year after and planning what to pack (very little).
Let’s talk about parental leave (or the lack of it) baby
I was able–I don’t want to say ‘lucky’ because it was something we planned and made sacrifices for–to take the time over those early months to learn how to care for a newborn and participate in a program with Google for Startups from the time my baby was 7 weeks to 4 months old.
We took a few vacations in between to Ireland and Canada, before we began preparing for the final overseas trip (and move) to Ottawa.
It all seems very adventurous now, jetsetting with a baby on board, when the last time we travelled as a family (again to Ireland) was in early 2019!
When I was headhunted for a role in Ottawa, I decided to look around at my other options and applied for a contract maternity cover, which I brought my then toddler to the interview for.
I got the job and it was during this time that I also became pregnant with our second son, finishing my contract role the month before he was due!
This enabled me to qualify for paid parental leave in Canada, where I took a year with him as a baby and kept the toddler at home part-time, focusing on validating my business idea, writing, continuing my parentpreneur activism and networking.
I’m due to have a third baby soon (again in Canada) and this time around, both kids will be in school–fingers crossed they stay open–but I’m not entitled to full maternity / parental leave.
I’ve spent the past three years working in remote part-time and project based contract roles, with my other paid business projects in between.
The irony of looking after the kids full-time during 2020 and part-time in 2021, while working on my business, doing remote freelancing, temporary contracts and the like, has restricted my hours.
And you are only assessed on the 52 weeks prior to applying. If things were assessed based on insurable income earned as opposed to hours worked, it would be a different story.
When I had my miscarriage two years ago, I again wasn’t entitled to anything because I didn’t miscarry after 19 weeks of pregnancy. Sorry Service Canada but women’s bodies don’t always meet your revenue/insurable earnings timelines!
Recently, I had a nice conversation with a Government service agent about my maternity and miscarriage circumstances but it didn’t result in anything other than a few kind words and commiserations.
Unless the Federal Government in Canada adjusts their parental and other leave policies or entitlements, I believe many women may not be receiving any paid leave as they will fall within these gaps in the system.
My partner is entitled to take parental leave based on his role and hours worked, however, not all workplaces encourage it or offer top ups, so the weekly/bi-weekly benefit payments aren’t sustainable for our soon-to-be family of five.
Again, I am able (not lucky) to take time off from my paid contract and project work to care for a newborn and I am open to starting paid projects and client work sooner in 2022, however, I’ve learned the hard way to leave myself commitment and obligation-free until I am up to it!
This is depending on how I feel, the recovery process, what kind of baby this new kid will be, my mental health…I’ve learned to go with the flow.
⏰What I’ve been doing over the past few weeks to prepare:
• Tech nesting: OOO responders, blocking calendars, updating web pages, Ts&Cs, renewing IT subscriptions
• Networking: For booking speaking arrangements for the second half of 2022
• Wrapping up: Client/project work and communicating my timelines and lack of availability
• Publishing: Final production and promotions for Season 3 episodes of the Mixing Babies And Business™ Podcast
• Bookkeeping: Working through my finances before tax season visits us in Canada
• Unplugging: Preparing to go offline from most social media in early 2022
👀 Curious to know:
Is there anything you did before your baby’s arrival that you found helped you feel more prepared going into the next phase of the fourth trimester?
I’d love to hear your feedback and personal experiences if you’re open to sharing them.
📬 If you’d like to keep in touch with me:
• Sign up to or stay on my email list (linked below, sent monthly but newsletters will slow down from Jan-Mar)
• Follow the Mixing Babies And Business™ Company Page on LinkedIn
• Follow / Subscribe to the Mixing Babies And Business™ Podcast
I’m preparing to go offline and won’t be using IG/FB. Most of you are in my snail mail address book, digital contacts or readers of this blog! 🐌
If you’d like to keep in touch, keep your eyes on this blog and sign up for my monthly-ish work and life newsletter focused on creativity (linked here). 📮
In 2022, I’ll be focusing on sharing the Mixing Babies And Business™ Podcast and resources with listeners and community members in different ways. 💡
I also want to create space for more time in nature with family (haven’t been able to walk much or go many places over the past eight months!), art, reading, good food and doing things that light me up! ✨
Best wishes for a restful and hopeful winter or summer season, depending on your timezones.
Photo by the lovely @carlaastronomo 💚
– Amy (+ Family) xx
Founder of Mixing Babies And Business™
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