Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mom Solutions

Last month, I wrote about mompreneurs and how they handle maternity leave. Big surprise: They work through it.

Not much of a surprise to me, actually.

I did take about six weeks with my first son, in 1989, because I was on leave from my newspaper job and getting some benefits.

But by the time my second son was born (21 years ago this week!), I was an entrepreneur. Maternity leave? Not so much.

I'll never forget the shock in my editor's voice as he asked, as we worked through a final story draft on the telephone: "Karen ... are you in the hospital!?"

Well ... yes, I was! The thing I couldn't get him to understand is that the 48 hours after birth was likely to be the most relaxing downtime I would get for months. Heck, there was a whole nursery staff working around the clock to take care of my baby!

I heard from another mompreneur after that initial column ran and I've been meaning to share it here. This feedback is from Laura Mather, founder of Silver Tail Systems, an anti-fraud startup that yesterday was acquired by data storage giant EMC.

Laura is the former director of fraud prevention at eBay and a former analyst with the NSA. She recently had a baby:

Thanks for the great article, Karen.  As a female entrepreneur who just had a baby, I can definitely relate to the issues around maternity leave and making sure the business continues to run well.  For me, there were a few ways to address this.  One key helper (which can also be a complication) is that I'm married to my co-founder.  Because of this my husband has a great understanding of the demands on my time and we can often cover for each other when needed.  
One strategy I took to make maternity leave easier was to split up my maternity leave.  My son was born on Dec. 13, 2011 (two weeks early!) and I was able to take 10 weeks off through late February.  
Unfortunately, there was a critical conference at the end of February that I had to attend, and that governed when I went back to work. Dividing my maternity leave has made it so that I could take a reasonable amount of time off without being gone for extended periods of time.The next thing I did was make sure the company was up and running before having a child.  This is not an option for everyone, but my husband and I knew we wanted children, but we decided to delay having children until we had given two years to the company.    
Finally, I have been working part-time since the baby was born.  My husband likes to joke that my going part-time was the only way he could get me to limit my work to 40 hours per week, but that has definitely made my life better.

Thanks for the feedback, Laura, and congrats on the acquisition - way to go!

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