As I write this, my newborn baby is wrapped around my body sleeping peacefully in a sling. He is happy as long as he is close to his mother. This is one of my practical ways to be able to follow my professional passion, balance a demanding career and also be a mum. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but over the years many women have asked me how to be on maternity leave while having a career and professional responsibilities.
Becoming a parent is one of life’s biggest events. For new parents who are deeply engaged in their professional life or career, it creates a lot of difficult questions and dilemmas. If you are becoming a mum or a dad, you have to test many things with a lot of trial-and-error in the process. I would like to share some insights and inspiration for those who are curious about how being on parental leave while professional responsibilities. This can also be thought of as a career woman’s guide to taking maternity leave.
Mixing maternity leave and having a career involves us all.
There is no easy one-size-fits-all answer, we have to share our stories. Not just for the sake of young women, but for the sake of families, companies, and society. We need to inspire each other and learn how other working mum’s and working dad’s have tackled this dilemma. There has to be room for several models in order for it to work for everybody. Some career women prefer to be off-the-radar for a long time, others do not. Neither are right or wrong, it just depends on the personal preferences. No matter what, I believe the babies should come first and the parents second. But, one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other. There are win-win models to be discovered. Such as, being able to happily write this post, while my baby sleeps close to me.
There is no one-size-fits-all, we must explore and test new models.
One thing is certain: what has worked for one woman, may not work for another. It might not be ideal for to be off-the-radar for 9 months or more. Although it is ideal, not all jobs, managers or companies will make it possible to maintain your responsibilities or position while on leave for a year. Additionally, while some women might find maternity leave as heaven, others might not enjoy being out of touch with their professional passions.
When I was younger, I was concerned about combining my uncompromisingly high standards for parenting with my professional life. I never thought a baby could replace my ambitions. However, with age and time, I have realised doing both of what I love have contributed to making me a better mother and a better role model too.
I often have conversations with other women on the topic. Former Danish Minister Astrid Krag, who was a minister while having a baby, brought her husband with her on the road. This allowed her to nurse her child, be with her family and attend her duties as a minister. Her husband is an artist and very supportive, so this model fit well. However, this might not work for everyone and not all husbands are able or happy to take months out of their career to follow their wife. This stresses the importance of the need to explore other possibilities and models too. So, if you are going to be a parent, I encourage you to be curious and explore what model(s) might be the right fit for you.
The maternity leave stories of managing director and mother of three, Loui Törnqvist
Loui Törnqvist is the Managing Director of at Music Sales / Edition Wilhelm Hansen. She became a mother for the first time when she was 27 years old, just a short time after being appointed as a managing director of company she still manages today. She has three children and each time she dealt with her responsibilities in a new way. Even though she was the same person, none of her maternity leaves were similar.
In this video, Loui shares her story openly and honestly. I believe it is quite a good story on how to be on maternity leave while having a career. Watch our 13- minute conversation and listen to what Loui has to share below.
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