Being pregnant during the school year is both challenging and fun. There are some perks, such as never having to wait for the bathroom, but the anxiety about the impending maternity leave is stressful.
I got pregnant in October after only a few months of trying. (I know, I know, you are supposed to say “we” got pregnant, but he did not gain 29 lbs, I did. I got pregnant.) We were incredibly fortunate as I have battled endometriosis and ovarian cysts for over a decade. Once the news was out, it was time for me to get down to the not-so-fun business of prepping my classroom. The following are some of the ways I prepared for my month – long absence.
Maternity Leave Checklist for Teachers
Once you have shared the great news with your family and friends, it is time get down to business. Meet with your principals and let them know. They will be thrilled for you, but they have a school to run and will want to know your due date and your plans for maternity leave. The sooner you let them know, the sooner they can begin searching for your sub! These days, it is not a guarantee that a certified teacher will be available, so the earlier they know, the better!
Know Your Numbers
Wait! before you call your Human Resources department, take a look at your last pay stub and determine how much sick leave you have. If you have been teaching for less than 5 years, you may not have many days available. DO NOT USE UP ALL OF YOUR SICK DAYS! I can’t stress this enough. I know, it’s tempting to use every last second to be home with your munchkin, but save at least 3 or 4 days for when your little angel gets sick or if YOU get sick.
Or, for when you have a mini breakdown 8 weeks after going back to work because you feel like a terrible mother for leaving your baby, and you leave work to go home and just be a mommy for a day. Not that that’s happened…
Once you determine your tentative dates for maternity leave with your OB/Gyn, have your school’s Administrative Assistant or head Bookkeeper guide you to the correct FMLA paperwork. These ladies can tell you what forms to complete, and which sections are not needed. Plus, they know insider info like the additional form that your school system’s website didn’t mention, and that if you fax it in on a Tuesday during a full moon, they won’t respond until the 3rd Thursday after Mercury is out of retrograde.
You laugh, but just wait- this is why I say to start the paperwork early!
Now that everything is faxed in, your school system can begin the official search for your substitute!
Do you have disability insurance? If not, sorry. Most require you to have the insurance for at least 10 months before claiming anything pregnancy related.
If you DO have it, however, check your policy for maternity leave/hospitalization coverage. Call and ask what you need to send in after baby arrives. Get those forms printed and ready- have them in a file to fill out once baby is here. I received $1,400 almost immediately, and that can really help offset the cost of delivery/hospital bills!
Now that you’ve got your paperwork in, it’s time to start making sure your classroom doesn’t fall apart while you’re gone!
- First, map out the units that should be covered during your absence, then map out what objectives should be met each week. I do this on a big whiteboard calendar so I can easily move things when needed.
- Each week, commit to writing lessons and gathering the materials for one week of your maternity leave– this keeps it manageable and not so overwhelming.
- Create a packet for each week you are gone containing the lesson plans, copies, and materials (or list of required materials) for that week. I used mailing envelopes for this with file folders within. My advice is to create a packet for each week you are gone plus two weeks after your scheduled return. This makes it an easier transition for you once you come back to work. It will be a busy, emotional time. the last thing you want to think about is the copy machine! More about the first year as a Teacher Mom here!
Room Pack Up/ Setup
This one only applies to those mamas that will be on maternity leave during the end or beginning of the school year. As it worked out, my maternity leave took place during the first month of the school year. (Not great timing because you basically have to re-teach the basic routines all over again once you get back. Ugh!!)
When I packed up my classroom, I took down every wall and bulletin board and packed it away with numbers on the back of each item. Then, in each bin, I put a “key” to the pieces and explained how to set everything back up by numbers. Right down to my borders, each part was labeled and my sub just had to tack it back up by number.
Also, I took pictures of each wall/area of the room and put those in the bins as well, so the sub had a visual to refer to.
If you will be missing the end of the school year, I suggest instructing your sub to take everything down in a similar fashion so that you can easily put it back up in the fall. At the very least, one bin per section with labels of the contents will be a big time saver!
Stay in Touch- Reasonably
It is good for you AND your students if you stay in touch with them during your absence. However… you’re going to have a newborn at home, remember?? Even sending an e-mail to the class may be a monumental feat during this time. Draft a letter, to be edited later with the baby’s information, and have it ready to be e-mailed or snail-mailed to your class after baby is born. Ask the sub to have the kids write back if you want, but this is baby time! It is not necessary to be pen-pals. If you want to, ONE class note addressed to all of them is sufficient. I feel like this helped me create a relationship with my class despite the fact that I did not begin the year with them.
The school will survive just fine without you! Some planning ahead of time will give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your time at home with your new bundle of joy.
Congratulations and happy planning!
Did you find this post helpful? What areas are you most concerned about?