I definitely fall into the category of women overachieving on Maternity Leave, well, mostly. This article argues it’s a bad thing:
“Women get stuck in a cycle of fear where they can’t see all the other things that are important in life,” says Shari Goldsmith, a life coach and mental health therapist. “It’s often difficult to be a woman in a workplace, and some fears related to falling behind may be valid.”
But there’s also a difference between a natural-born entrepreneur who just happens to have a newborn and someone who’s having a hard time transitioning from her 24/7 attachment to her Blackberry. Or worrying that being away for that amount of time could cause her to fall behind on the job.
“The reality is that women notice and respond to those subtle societal pressures to be better, stronger and smarter, and they make choices accordingly,” says mom of two Samantha Krigsvold. “As a professional woman, breadwinner and mother of two young children, my choice to take an abbreviated maternity leave was absolutely tied to an underlying pressure to prove I could handle it all.”
The experts agree: “Women hear over and over again the message that they’re supposed to be able to manage it all—a career and a family. When it comes to taking maternity leave, there are very real fears of being seen as uncompetitive or dispensable,” says Ford Myers, a career coach and author of “Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.”
Then again, for many women, wanting to go back to work at all, let alone double down on it during their downtime, just doesn’t compute.
I argue women do this for a multitude of reasons, but primarily because…
a) finances – maternity leave isn’t always covered very well, and babies cost money!
b) isolation and boredom – being on maternity leave or being a stay at home mom can be incredibly isolating.
c) sense of need to contribute to society – despite or because of cultural pressure, women feel the need to do more than "be a mom."
The article also touches on some of these points, but for a financial site they don’t really acknowledge the cost issues.
Some people will take sabbaticals from work to work on other projects. I’ve known a few people who started projects while sick in bed that turned into enterprises.
What do you think about working on any kind of leave, maternity or otherwise?