NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Making the Most of Maternity Leave  (Read 2357 times)

Isla

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
    • Facebook
Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« on: March 28, 2018, 12:25:28 pm »
Feel like I'm at a massive turning point and would really appreciate advice from experienced people!  Maternity leave will commence this summer for the arrival of our first child.  I get that babies are time-consuming but I'm wondering what my options are for later in the year and beyond.

Present situation:
almost finished renovating a cottage in North-East Scotland which is where I grew up and have good network of friends and family;
work part-time as a supply teacher (and do private tutoring and exam marking) and part-time as a private landlord managing a portfolio of properties;
4 dairy goats (two are goatlings, one is due to kid next week and the other is milking through);
4 pet sheep (wethers who have been instructed to keep the grass down and produce beautiful fleeces);
4 stable boxes with lean-to for bale storage, a concrete yard and a wee menage made by the previous horsey owners;
3 acres, all stock fenced, divided into five paddocks, some with water supply;
2 pet dogs i.e. not working dogs;
1 cat;
1 significant other who works full-time, something to do with computers;
I'm vegetarian but reconsidering this due to the responsibility that comes with breeding dairy goats i.e. the male kids.

What would you do?  I really believe in building up gradually i.e. not going out and buying all sorts of different stock without adequate research.  But I'm also aware that months can pass and I haven't made any steps towards something new or different e.g. bought the house 2.5 years ago and still not growing any of our own veg!  Main aim is to lead more sustainable life with experiences rather than things.  Would like bees and hens and I will have lambswool to process this summer.  My other half is an omnivore who eats a lot of bacon and sausages so I think it's about time we reared our own pork.  He helps out in emergencies but overall the smallholding is 'my thing'.  I am finding schools increasingly frustrating and heart-breaking and the workload unbearable but still love teaching.
Voss Electric Fence

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2018, 02:29:23 pm »

We started our smallholding with poultry for eggs and a couple of weaners for our own pork, then built up the garden (fruit cage, polytunnel and some raised beds). and then two years later started with sheep, goats only came another year later. My children were 3 and 5 when we moved in (new-built house).


We have also done meat chickens, but I find it quite a lot of work wrt plucking... I am very slow. Nowadays we just rear the surplus cockerels until they really annoy me with their crowing and then don't pluck, just take the skin off and use the breast meat and legs. That job is also done by my OH, but I could do it if needed.


If you want to do more food production - a polytunnel is a great investment, especially in Scotland. And if you already have a manege (and no horses) you have a flat area where to put it! There are so many things that you cannot grow outside up here, but with a polytunnel you can get out of the weather and still do stuff!




Isla

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
    • Facebook
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2018, 02:56:09 pm »
Thanks, Anke. Yes sounds like a polytunnel is the best thing to prioritise.

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2018, 03:45:09 pm »
Be aware that a young child takes up an enormous amount of time so be carefull of filling your days with extra animals which will need attention over winter.  A few poultry and a couple of veg plots to get the growing started would be the way I would go.

Dans

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Spalding
    • Six Oaks
    • Facebook
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2018, 05:25:03 pm »
I would stick with what you have livestock wise. If you want to take on more then looking at the growing side may be best. Polytunnels are great (you cam also be out there weeding/sowing etc with baby in pushchair on colder and wetter days). Getting fruit bushes and trees in could also be good.

We moved to the smallholding with a 10 week old. We had no animals and no crops growing. There were plenty of fruit trees full of fruit to harvest though. We still found it hard (husband working full time with computers but thankfully his office is the converted garage). We managed to get a couple of beds in the polytunnel that autumn/winter and got our first chickens and geese in the following Feb and sheep in the April I think. It's only 2.5acres but we are still finding it hard to keep on top of with the little one. She has groups to go for socialising which takes time and has ended up with poorly lungs so it's been harder to take her out in colder weather.

My hope had been that I would be out with her everyday, in a sling or pushchair and then with her running around but it is only in the last year or so that I have been able to do more (she's 2 and 3/4 now).

My husband's comment is to finish the renovation as a big priority. Our first child really did take us by surprise in how much work she was and how it impacted. We would happily work on our garden before she was born until the sun set, grabbing a late dinner or snacking through but with her things have to work around her. When she was teething she needed to be constantly held, when she needed a feed it had to be then. One of our sheep was taking a while to lamb last year, hubby was in meetings and baby was screaming for a feed so I had to set up a chair in the shade of tree near where she was lambing and feed my baby outside whilst keeping an eye out.

Dans

PS when are you due? We are expecting our second late August.
9 sheep, 24 chickens, 3 cats, a toddler and a baby on the way

www.sixoaks.co.uk

www.facebook.com/pg/sixoakssmallholding

www.goodlife.sixoaks.co.uk

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2018, 06:29:13 pm »
I haven't had children myself so won't comment about that.  But what I will say is that it would seem to me to be better to have plants struggling and even dying because the baby is taking much more time and energy than expected, than to have livestock suffering! 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

sabrina

  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2018, 08:51:21 pm »
You are about to start the hardest job you will ever do in your whole life, that of raising a child. the first 6 months you will be lucky if you have the time or the energy to brush your hair. ( not kidding ). I would take this time to make a long term plan of just what you need and want. I have a pollytunnel which in the North East of Scotland is a god send. I do have a veg plot but the lasst couple of years as been very poor due to wet weather so most of my veg is grown in the tunnel. we rear lamb and pork just for our own needs. I do not breed. 3 chickens for eggs. I did work part time but now retired, kept busy enough with our place. Always jobs like fencing seem to come up just when I don't need it. I keep a wee book on what needs doing and when, costs of feed etc. Plan out as much as I can not that everything ever goes to plan !!!!!

mariegold

  • Joined Jan 2013
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2018, 09:55:55 pm »
I've recently had a baby (9 weeks ago) we currently have 4 goats which we decided to dry up in the winter to take the pressure off when the baby arrived. I managed to stay fairly active right up until the baby arrived (including mucking out whilst having contractions) but now I'm really limited by and can only really get stuck in with the goats when my other half takes the baby. I had to have an emergency caesarean, spent several days in hospital and house bound for 4 weeks and now have to take it steady. Its been frustrating and really upsetting to be apart from my goats. I'd recommend keeping things simple just in case. Growing lots of vegetables would be great, especially in a polytunnel where you could have an area for the baby. That's what I'm dreaming of. I'd steer clear of anything that needs milking or daily mucking out unless someone can help you at short notice or whilst you recover from giving birth :)

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2018, 10:32:19 pm »
I worked full time through my pregnancy. I had a trekking centre. I had an extremely easy pregnancy with no sickness or problems. I was also very grateful going into labour still physically fit. I came home with my son and was bored rigid. Within days I was back on the yard just to keep sane. Within a few weeks I was thrown back into full time work due to circumstances that arose. My son literally grew up on the yard. He was extremely healthy, walked before a year of age (crawling on concrete probably does that) and he learned commonsense, health and safety, the value of money and other things about life.


Babies and toddlers are hard work. They have basic needs and then I think it is up to you how much you let them take over your day. I feel I was lucky to take my child to work and yes, maybe he missed out on some things but we spent a lot of quality time together and we are still close.


I'm sorry but I can not understand why women can not find time to brush their hair, or get dressed because they have a baby.


You already have quite a lot to manage so if you can continue to manage that after your baby arrives then you can look at other options later.

Dans

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Spalding
    • Six Oaks
    • Facebook
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2018, 10:44:26 pm »
I think all babies are different, which is something to take into account, but you don't know what type you are going to have.

To be fair I did manage to brush my hair everyday, but having a shower everyday was hit and miss. Part of it is how that particular baby is, some are more clingy and demanding than others, part of it is how you decide to approach parenting. We went for a very child led approach which is admittedly much more demanding on my time. I also had a very sedentary pregnancy due to severe SPD and an emergency c-section followed by a slip in the hospital which still gives me hip problems nearly 3 years later. All of those made it harder to be more active on the smallholding when we moved here at 10 weeks.

No-one knows how they are going to get through the birth (c-section certainly wasn't on my wishlist), how the baby will be (my daughter was very clingy to me and OH) nor how they will approach parenting (I thought I would be quite detached from it but ended up being drawn to an attachment/gentle parenting route). The one thing we can do though is try to prepare for all situations. If you assume that you will have your hands full and no time to get out daily beyond the very basic tasks then if you end up having an easier time of it it will be a pleasant surprise.

Some mothers bounce back and go to work very quickly, some struggle to settle into the swing of motherhood, others never do. We are all so very different. I try to understand and support them all. We are all just trying to do our best by the life we bring into the world.

Dans
« Last Edit: March 28, 2018, 11:50:05 pm by Dans »
9 sheep, 24 chickens, 3 cats, a toddler and a baby on the way

www.sixoaks.co.uk

www.facebook.com/pg/sixoakssmallholding

www.goodlife.sixoaks.co.uk

westcoastcroft

  • Joined Oct 2016
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2018, 11:16:21 pm »
Hi

I think it really depends on what you want out of it.

Our situation is we live in a static (have done in various places since 2012) and have had our first child in June 2017. I work 2 days a week and clean 3 holiday houses  (boring but lucrative) once maternity leave finishes my partner will go back 1 day a week. All in this gives us enough to live off and we save about half for the house build. We don't go anywhere or do anything off the croft but that is fine we are working towards what we really want. A business, a house and no 'work'.

To that end we are currently keep 10 ewes and  2 highlanders  (who knows if these will pay for themselves in the long run). We also have a milk goat, a wether companion and a few chickens neither of which is for financial reasons (but pay for themselves in savings on cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt etc). Business wise we are establishing a market garden (80x30ft tunnel and about 1 acres outside) having previously run a similar scale profitable enterprise (slightly above minimum wage) in a different location (but similar to skye). We are also building a house, the frame will go up this summer and I will do the internal work over next winter.

I work 8 hours most days  (but almost never more) and my partner looks after baba (with a few hours input from me spread across the day when she gets out and about a bit) we will share this more as the child gets older.
We love it but it is very hard work. I think the key for us (or me at least) is a fairly strict 8 hour day (dont do to much I think or burnout is on the horizon!) which, after the paid employment, gives about 35 hours a week to devote to the business and house build which seems about right based on the previous business and the spilt between summer work and winter I. E. All summer on the business all winter on  the house.

Also since having the baby we have gone from 2 workers to 1 what with child care - it is totally and un relentingly full time. I think you should evaluate what you want and why. Our goal is quite clearly to not have to 'go to work', beyond maybe a day each to ensure a small steady stream of income for security and have a low impact, low cost, sustainable life.  Once the house is finished we will drop our working to 1 day each to focus fully on the business. In order to achieve all this we have to seriously sacrifice many things that many people think are essential to have a reasonable standard of living - holidays, spending money, new things etc etc.  On the plus side we get to do largely what we want when we want(or when the baby wants), have very low outgoings (beyond the eye watering cost of building a house), eat great healthy food and spend all day outside. It really depends what you want out of it all. It sounds like you have quite a lot on as it is at present and with a baby coming that is only going to get more. We worked out our available hours and came to the conclusion we could just about manage this - just! Assuming one of the two of you looks after the baby all the time, plus your current commitments how much time do you have left over still allowing yourselves a reasonable amount of down time, and still enjoying it? I know folk who work a lot more hours than me but is that productive and are you going to enjoy it 5 years in. Could you work less and save money by producing your own food, would you like the insecurity of that, or a small business - do you need the steady income to feel secure

H

Isla

  • Joined Aug 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
    • Facebook
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2018, 11:23:17 pm »
Thanks all.  Congratulations to those of you with new arrivals or who are expecting soon.  Almost every single one of my friends have infants but their lives are very different from mine:  they can't understand 6am milking and I can't understand box sets; they don't do agricultural shows and I don't do soft play centres.  So that's why I asked on this forum.  I'm also trying to think ahead for the coming years but it looks like the short-term is too unpredictable to be able to think long-term.

I absolutely take on board that this is not the time to take on more livestock.  C-sections seem to be on the rise so that's just one possibility as well as all the other unforseen circumstances like a baby who is unwell or has allergies.

My partner and I discussed sharing parental leave but financially it's better for him to continue working full-time.  What alarms me is when my friends have to organise for their husbands to "babysit" so they can go out.  I wonder how often a father-to-be hears that he won't have time to meet his basic needs.  I guess all you can do is be open with each other and make sure you're on the same page; my partner and I have similar values - just different interests!

westcoastcroft

  • Joined Oct 2016
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2018, 11:35:23 pm »
We had planned to share parental leave but in the end switched it back to my partner having it all. I was surprised by how much a wee one spurred me on to work at the croft and business and she was surprised by how much she ( and I also agree) felt that the little one primarily needed her mum -this is changing slowly but at 6 months I don't think it would have been right for me to take her a couple of days a week, whilst A worked. You can't plan these things..

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2018, 01:20:44 pm »
I’ve really enjoyed reading this thread. :heart:

I’m blessed to live now in a diverse community and have children born and growing up here along with some older members.  So there are always willing babysitters / aunts and uncles / grannies and grampses. And, as (if not more) importantly, other people to pick up any workload mums and dads can’t manage at any point in time.

But it’s been interesting and often moving to read people’s stories. Thank you all  :-*
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Making the Most of Maternity Leave
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2018, 08:12:27 am »
I'd forget the bees. They're more work than you think - at least ours have been. If you want some desperately, see if another beekeeeper will locate some on your land.

Whatever, your kid is going to have  a wonderful life  :)

 

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