Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Conquer the Cello, Learn to Speak Spanish, Set Up a Start-Up: Have a Power Maternity Leave; WORKDon't Be Daunted, Duchess -- Your Baby Break Might Just Be the Perfect Time to Learn a New Skill, Says Jasmine Gardner

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Conquer the Cello, Learn to Speak Spanish, Set Up a Start-Up: Have a Power Maternity Leave; WORKDon't Be Daunted, Duchess -- Your Baby Break Might Just Be the Perfect Time to Learn a New Skill, Says Jasmine Gardner

Article excerpt

Byline: Jasmine Gardner

THE babe is born, and the Duchess of Cambridge is officially six weeks into her maternity leave. But what has she planned for the rest of it? Last year saw the rise of "power maternity leave" -- the idea that while a woman takes time off from work, somewhere in the endless cycle of nappies, feeding, bottle sterilisation, washing and the rest, she might also find the time to study, learn an instrument, take up a hobby or find a sideline source of income.

To most, the concept will seem like an impossible feat. Indeed, the very suggestion caused quite a stir last year, with feminist blog The Vagenda saying one article on the subject "peddles the myth that childcare in itself isn't hard work".

Nevertheless, some have embraced the idea. All over the internet are forums on which women are discussing and supporting each other in decisions to take university courses while on maternity leave. On others they ask advice about the possibility of taking up a new musical instrument in their six months away from the office.

Gemma Daborn's son Oscar was just five weeks old when she attended a "power maternity leave" event in London.

She then began setting up a wedding list website. "In the first few weeks after your baby is born, everything is really exciting and you get lots of visits from friends. After a while nobody comes around and it's a bit of a shock to the system for someone who has had a full-on career." Daborn is a producer for broadcast PR company TNR communications and will return to work next month. Her new business will be a side project.

"I see it as something that might make enough money to pay for Oscar's childcare.

A lot of women want flexible, alternative streams of income."

Hackney-based Jacqui Ma is another such woman. Her son Otto is now seven months old and during her maternity leave from her job as a trend forecaster at WGSN she has set up Good Ordering, a bicycle bag business. She also will return to work as planned. "This business won't provide an income for a few years so I will be keeping it going parttime," she says.

Ma has been surprised to find that despite her business being unrelated to babies, nobody has objected to her taking her son to meetings. "In fact, they have all been really nice," she says. For other women, taking up a new role with a new baby is simply a matter of timing. Debbie Phillips, vice-president of live music and events at MTV International, was offered the chance to produce the Olympic closing ceremony during her mat-leave last year. It was "a decision I struggled with [before saying yes], it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I wanted to be there for my baby. It was a delicate balancing act making sure that first and foremost my newborn's needs were taken care of," she says. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.