New Mom Backed After Work Colleague Made Her Feel 'Lazy' on Maternity Leave

A mother has been praised for spending her maternity leave "relaxing" after her work colleagues made her feel bad for "not reinventing [herself]" during that time instead.

In a post shared on Mumsnet last Sunday, the woman, who goes by the username Saltyaire, explained that she's just due back to work after two years of maternity leave, and during a zoom call with her colleague last week, one of them asked her what she did during her maternity leave, and she said she looked after her newborn and didn't have enough time for chores.

So her colleague began comparing her to women who started their own businesses or did home renovations while on maternity leave, adding that it was nice she got a chance to "relax" instead.

The new mother initially "shrugged [the comment] off," but she's now wondering if perhaps she was being "lazy" and missed a chance to "reinvent [herself]".

mother holding newborn
A stock image shows a mother holding a newborn. A mother has been praised on Mumsnet for "relaxing" on her maternity leave after her colleagues made her feel "lazy" for not "reinventing herself". Getty Images

"It's my second child and I feel even more exhausted than I did with [DearSon] (although I didn't achieve anything with [DearSon] either during mat leave).

"Should I have done something?! [DearSon] goes to nursery three days a week otherwise it's just me and [DearHusband] doing childcare and [DearDaughter] hasn't been the best sleeper until the past few months but maybe I have been making excuses."

Maternity leave is not a luxury that every woman can afford. According to research by Zippia, only 20 percent of private-sector workers had access to paid family leave in order to care for a new child or family member.

Only 10 states mandate paid family leave for employees, and just 13 percent of small businesses with fewer than 50 employees offer employer-provided paid family leave.

Among the 82 comments in the thread, one user minipie said: "My achievement during mat leave was keeping myself and the [DearChild] alive! Mine aren't good sleepers and [DearChild1] was very high maintenance when awake...

"Maybe if I'd had decent nights and multiple 2 [hour] naps to fill I might have got something else done. But really I think mat leave is a chance to recover physically and focus on your baby, if you've done that you're doing fine [InMyOpinion]."

DrManhattan said: "Omg. Just when you thought women couldn't be under any more pressure. Mat leave is for you to do whatever you want with. There isn't a test at the end to see if you have done it right. It's your life."

Another user, Herbie0987, commented: "You have done a lot, you have 2 children who you care for, day after day with no holidays. You are giving your family stability through a big change in family dynamics. You are doing the most important job that ever was or will be."

And mum2bee2022 suggested: "sounds like she's trying to make you feel insecure. IGNORE completely. What a horrible cow!!" Walkingdeadobsessed said: "Your entire reason for being during mat leave is to keep your small child alive and healthy. If you have done that then you have smashed it!!"

NrlySp said: "Your colleague is [an] idiot. You looked after two children. Your body started to recover from having a baby. You did lots." And pinacollama said: "Wow. Surely the achievement is raising a baby! That's massive."

ShinyMe wrote: "As far as I was aware, the only thing you're 'meant' to do on maternity leave is have a baby and look after the baby. Did you do that? Everything else is an optional extra. If you've got a healthy, happy baby who's bonded with you, then that's a successful maternity leave, isn't it?"

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