A New Mother’s 18 Hour Work Day in America: USA trails world on paid maternity leave and new mothers barely have time to breathe

Some people think that you’re just slacking off when you’re working from home. As a mom (of a newborn) who works full time, slacking off is the last thing I do when I get to work from home (mostly during dangerous snowstorms or Hurricane Sandy).

Here’s my schedule from last Wednesday during a wintry mess when I worked from home:

  • 6:08am: Wake up, brush teeth, use bathroom, drink a glass of water
  • 6:30am: Use the breast pump to extract 5 ounces of breast milk
  • 7:00am: Make breakfast for husband
  • 7:30am: Shovel snow and fail. Condo board did not manage the snow properly. Car inaccessible so can’t drop off baby–must work from home.
  • 8:00am: Request to work from home from 9:00am to 5:00pm, emailed boss a detailed work plan for the day. Request granted.
  • 8:00am: Eat a piece of toast. Feed baby
  • 8:30am: Change baby’s diaper
  • 9:00am: Put baby in crib for nap. Began working until 11:30am
  • 11:30am: Use the breast pump to extract 5 ounces of breast milk while reading and responding to work emails
  • 12:00pm: Feed baby, make lunch for husband. Realized I did not have my coffee yet. Drink water. Eat lunch. Breathe and relax for ten minutes. Play with baby, bounce him to stop his fussing and crying.
  • 1:00pm: Back to work until 3:30pm (in between, baby naps, cries, fusses. I bounce him on my lap while working)
  • 3:30pm: Use the breast pump to extract 5 ounces of breast milk while checking work emails
  • 4:00pm: Feed baby before changing his diaper again
  • 4:00pm: Back to work until 5:00pm
  • 5:00pm: Wash all dishes from the day, do other chores
  • 6:00pm: Prepare dinner. No time to cook. Not much left in the fridge. Eat leftovers and takeout. Take shower
  • 7:30pm: Use the breast pump to extract 5 ounces of breast milk
  • 8:00pm: Feed baby, play with him, read to him until 9:30pm. Change his diaper. He will nap until midnight
  • 9:30pm to 11:30pm: Finally some free time. Check personal emails, Facebook, blog, spend time with husband, watch some TV before using the breast pump to extract 5 ounces of breast milk
  • 12:00am: Feed baby, change his diaper one last time, put him to sleep, brush my teeth, and go to sleep like a baby myself a little before 1:00am (wake up again at 6am the next day. The cycle continues from Monday to Friday, different when I’m shuffling into the office and pumping milk at work, but equally tiring. On the weekends, the only difference is that I don’t have to work.)

That’s my 18+ hour day as a mom who works full-time and has the occasional “privilege” of working from home. Here in America, new mothers barely have time to breathe, especially if they have to work as well. Our maternity leave benefits are absolutely atrocious. During my maternity leave from October 8th, 2013 to January 29th, 2014, I exhausted my sick days and used five personal days and three vacation days. At the end of January,  I received a short-term disability check for approximately eight hundred dollars. On most days for lunch, I ate TV dinners or my husband’s leftovers to save money. Before my newborn turned four months old, I left him with a heavy heart to return to working full time.

Becoming a mother, I now have newfound appreciation for all mothers out there. We really are superwomen.

Mama does this for you, Philly.

Update: My workplace has now allowed me to work once a week from home. I treasure this time I get to spend with Philly.

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