Advocating for Family Leave Time

It was heart-wrenching to go back to my career after my baby arrived, but luckily I had worked out a solution that gave me as much time off as possible over the course of his first year.  It required some creative thinking, some begging, and some negotiation, but it was worth it!

As you may have read in my last post, I found that the time I spent at home increased the quality of our lives and the quality of the environment. We were able to prepare homemade meals, hang cloth diapers out to dry, and generally spend less money. 

So how do you ask your supervisor for the best solution for your family?  Here are a few tips that worked for me.

  • Think of a win-win-win solution. It’s possible to come up with a situation that is best for your family, your business, and your clients.  In my case, I found that spreading out my sick leave provided more consistency to my students, less cost to my school district, and an easier job for my supervisor.  When I presented it as such, my boss was very supportive.
  • Problem solve before you make a proposal.  Are you the only one at work who can do a specific task?  If so, can you train someone so that they’ll be ready when you go on leave?  Can your company bring in an experienced, retired person to work temporarily during your leave so that training won’t be an issue?  There’s always a way to solve the dilemma and it will impress your supervisor if you can come up with it!  In my case, my leave request meant that there would be a Spanish class I wouldn’t be able to teach a few days a week.  I proposed that we changed the course to Spanish Language and Latino Art and teamed up with an amazing art teacher.  My principals were thrilled and my students enjoyed the whole experience.
  •  Realize that family leave time is your right.  If you end up being pressured by your supervisors to come back before your three months of leave time is up, remember that it’s your legal right to have that time off.  The only exception is if your business has fewer than 50 employees or if you haven’t worked a total of 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.   Otherwise, they have to let you have the leave and give your job back afterwards.  

In short, there are ways to negotiate a personalized solution that works for your family and your budget. You’ll be glad you took the initiative to explore all options and be even more appreciative when baby arrives and you get the chance to sleep in!  How did you handle going back to work or how did you make staying home fit into your budget?  We’d love to hear your stories. 

Thanks for adding your Thrifty Green Thursday links below so that all of our readers can learn from your simple tips on how to save a bit of money and the planet.  Everyone’s welcome, but if you don’t know where to start, click here for directions.  Thanks for joining us this week!



  1. getting maternity leave was so stressful, but I worked for a big enough company to get 12 weeks off, which is barely enough time! That’s great your bosses worked with you.

  2. I am lucky enough to have a husband who quit his job to become a stay-at-home dad when our first son was born. I have a very stable job with great benefits, so that part made sense for us… but when it came time for maternity leave… I had a bit of a dilema… I work for a very small company and me being gone for 12 weeks was actually very difficult for them. I came up with a plan to hire someone part-time from a temp-agency to help cover my absence and went back after only 10 weeks off… BUT I negotiated to take most Wednesdays off for the first 6 months or so.

    I can’t even tell you how much I looked foward to those breaks in the middle of the week to “sleep in” and spend an extra day with my son. With our second son (23 months later) we also got a temp at work… but this time I came back after about 9 weeks… I had been off for 3 weeks prior to delivery for stress related issues (work was making me NUTS!).

    Again, I was able to take Wednesdays off for a while, and even now that our baby is 10 months old, I try and get off work a few hours early at least once a week to balance things out. Once in a while, I even go get a pedicure or haircut in those few extra precious hours – we all know how hard it is to get “me” time.

    I think it definitely helps to have a plan and solutions to any “what if” questions your boss may come up with before talking to them about your leave. Be strong… our babies need us and are only babies for such a short time!

  3. I am so impressed by your creativity–that Spanish language and art class sounds awesome!

    I was fortunate enough to get 18 weeks off (federal + WA state leave) when I had my son–plus a bonus week for having a C-section. I also had a great boss–I told her that my first week back, I was going to take a 2-hour lunch break every day so I could go home and nurse and just be with my baby, and she was fine with that. Then, the following summer as my son turned 1, I negotiated that rather than taking a “big” summer vacation, I was just going to take every Friday off in June, July, and August.

    My heart goes out to those women who cannot afford to take even the 12 weeks because they can’t afford to lose the income. Those early weeks go by so fast and are irreplaceable.

  4. I love the solution that you came up with for the Spanish class!

  5. I have posted about this before, but our solution to the maternity-leave problem was for me to quit my job. This required a lot of maneuvering..we moved to a smaller apartment in a different location so that my husband could take public transportation to work (and save on buying a house for us yet). By doing that we were able to sell one of our cars. We both worked overtime to get credit cards, etc., paid off before the baby was born and we now live on a budget. I make all of our meals and since my husband isn’t opposed to eating vegetarian we save even more money. We don’t go out much, but we don’t really want to. We would rather spend our time together with our baby. Overall, the situation has worked out for us and is “green” as well.

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