Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I’ve Been to London to See the Queen

Last week was spent in the UK for a training course. It was quite hectic with sessions going on till late in the evening so I didn’t really get to se much during the week but I did stay back with my cousin on Saturday and hopped across to Oxford Street for some heavy duty retail therapy. Some reflections:
  • Travel is no longer that simple. When I went away to Brazil, my mother came to stay with Ayaan but this time, she couldn’t make it. So I had to first fly to Jaipur and drop Ayaan there. Then I flew to Delhi and took the London flight from there. On the way back, Jai went to Delhi for some meetings and then hopped across to Jaipur to bring Ayaan back while I flew directly from Mumbai to London. Phew! The planning was exhausting and we spent a small fortune in air tickets.
  • I got to realise how much Ayaan has moved on from being the clingy, stranger-allergic baby he used to be. I majorly built up his week away long before we actually left and I could see he was pretty excited about it. From the moment we reached the Mumbai airport, he would look across at me every now and then to questioningly ask ‘Patti?’ He took to my mom instantly. What’s more, while my mom was away at work, she got my old nanny (who lives in Jaipur) to come across and babysit and Ayaan had no problem with hanging out with her either. My little baby is growing up!
  • Kingfisher is absolutely the best domestic airline to fly with kids. They have individual TV screens for each seat, invaluable for keeping restless toddlers glued to their seats. The not-so-fun part was hitting turbulence in the middle of a diaper change in the loo – but I will not gross you out with more details on that.
  • I was told that England would be chilly and carried loads of warm stuff but it was actually sunny all the days that I was there. I didn’t need a sweater at all during the day. It was quite a shock to step into the hot and humid Mumbai weather after that.
  • You have so much more choice in terms of baby wear and toys abroad. I wanted to buy the entire shop for Ayaan but restricted myself to a new Noddy (the old one looks pretty bad now), a few books, magnetic alphabets and some cute trousers and socks from baby Gap.
  • My separation anxiety (please note that Ayaan showed no such symptoms and barely mentioned my name a couple of times) kind of followed a bell curve. I was really upset and depressed when I left but then my mood kind of picked up once I reached and I quite enjoyed myself – I felt almost liberated for a while. But then towards the end, I started craving for home and Ayaan again. I think a week is at the limit of how long I can be away from him without feeling sad and/ or guilty.
  • There were a lot of international participants at the course and a few other moms as well. In discussions with them, I was shocked to note the difference in maternity leave policies across the world. The UK is the best – with 9 months of paid maternity leave (wow!). But I was shocked to find that in the US, you get only six weeks of paid maternity leave and then another six weeks of unpaid leave, should you decided to avail of it. Six weeks! That is just ridiculous. And this from the country that is the most vociferous about the fact that children need to be exclusively breastfed for 6 months. How is that even possible with a maximum of 12 weeks?

Anyway, that’s all from me for the moment. I will be back soon.

50 comments:

  1. Nice Nice. I missed reading your posts. I had my head shaking vociferously when I read about the ridiculous maternity leave policies in the US. There you go, another reason I moved back heh heh.

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  2. My friend who lived in Sweden for a while told me that Mothers get 18 months paid leave and Fathers get 3 months leave there! Thats awesome.
    So did you see the Queen?! ;)

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  3. umm...not really connected to your post but what plans for the second birthday? I noticed the ticker is awfully close to 2:D

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  4. Yes, here in the US we get a few hours of maternity leave, the La Leche Nazis that insist we are terrible mothers if we don't breast feed our children until they're ten AND the Mommy Wars fueled by women who feel the need to write pendantic books about the best way to manage motherhood, career and abysmal day care opportunities.
    Only in the Good Old U S of A.

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  5. But you know, the US are usually most vociferous about stopping the world from doing the ridiculous things they do (and don't stop doing). Anyway, not to get into politics, nice to hear about your trip. Did you frighten the little mouse under the chair too?

    And why does the baby Gap link go to Kingfisher?

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  6. Sounds like a fun trip. Did you get to Madam Tussaud's?

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  7. I'm the same with being away from my kids--I miss them way more than they miss me.

    In Canada, we get 12 months paid leave, which can be split between parents however the parent chooses. Parents are also strongly encouraged to breastfeed here for 6-12 months (not exclusively for the last 6 of those, obviously.) Many moms choose to go back earlier, but the 12-month is a fairly recent legislation (within the last 6 years)--before that it was only 6, I believe, and moms that wanted to breastfeed would have to pump while they were at work--annoying to say the least.

    Kudos on the shopping self-restraint. Can't say as I would have been as good about it as you! Take care, friend!

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  8. Hey Rohini, good to have you back!

    I think we do underestimate how resilient our kids are - I think they're far better at dealing with us being away than we are!

    And yes, 6 weeks maternity leave is ridiculous, isn't it? On the other hand Canada gives you a whole year - fully paid!

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  9. i think 9 months maternity leave is great....cept that i may have gone nuts if i stayed at home for 9 whole months!

    the only time we left K with his grandparents, he cried quite a bit the first few nights. although he is very very comfortable with my parents, we've decided not to leave him and go anywhere for the next year or so.

    i'm so happy for you that ayaan got along famously with his patti while you were away. i think you and jai should now plan a romantic getaway sometime!

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  10. i admire u and your ability to plan the entire thig. I wud hav despaired

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  11. Just to clarify: In teh UK the law gives mothers 12 months of maternity leave at teh end of which they must give the women her job back. However not all of that year is paid. There are statutory rules to pay for a few months (3 I think) and then a decreasing percentage and then just a stipend sort of thing from the government. The job security is the main feature.

    You should check out France where it is 3 or 4 years of leave after which you get your job back. Again not all of that is paid.

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  12. My company has less than 50 employees, so doesn't fall under FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). But, I can take 8 weeks of "short term" disability (company pays for the premiums, I get paid 70% salaray which is tax-free and one gets 8 weeks for a scheduled C-section, 6 for a normal delivery) and then I can take another 4 weeks of unpaid leave which makes it 12 weeks for me. Then I can utilize my paid leave if I plan ahead and save it (I did and I will have 2 more weeks at least). Plus my husband's company will give him some time off. So between the two of us we will manage. This much time is sufficient for me because any more time than that and I would go crazy. Another benefit that I get in my job is flexible timing - so I can adjust my time to minimize the baby's time with a nanny or at a daycare - like we do for our daughter now. And we do have a designated "pumping room" where lactating mothers can go in and pump breast milk if they want to :PI plan on doing that.

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  13. Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, i like the way you present things, keep up the good work, will be back.

    Expect more from you...

    Warm Regards

    Biby Cletus :- Blog

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  14. Yes 30in2005 is right.. in the UK, you get paid 90% of your earnings for the first 6 weeks.. for the remaining 20 weeks, its a stipend paid by the government which is really less.. For babies born after April this year, they have increased the stipend duration to 33 weeks.. but the benefits here are nothing compared to the Scandinavian countries...

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  15. In US, two states have better regulations:Massachusetts and California. We can take upto 6 months of leave under CFRA, but out of which 6 weeks is fully paid if your company qualifies for FMLA. Then another 6 weeks we get 60% pay from the government.

    CFRA can be taken anytime within 1 year after the child is born. That means if I decide to take 3 months off initially and then decide to utilize the rest later it is valid. But for all this, you have to be with the same company throught.

    If there is a company wide layoff, your job is protected only for the first 12 weeks.

    Law is complicated enough to make the lawyers rich!!

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  16. [Poppins] I know! There is no way I could have gone back to work at 6 weeks, or even 12 weeks for that matter.

    [Boo] Maybe I need to move to Sweden for the next baby! :)

    [Beks] Currently deciding between a small do at home versus a pool party at our neighbourgood club.

    [cce] Yeah, but I am surprised there hasn't been more lobbying by La Leche types and others to change the policies.

    [Sue] Well a rat died in my office yesterday, if that counts though I think the cause of death was pest control rather than any fear induced by my presence I suspect... fixed the link mess-up.

    [Mosilager] Actually I had a single-minded agenda - to shop. Besides, my parents were in England for a year when I was 16 so I have done all the touristy stuff.

    [Talena] Restraint? The only restraint operating was the the shortage of time. I am not looking forward to this month's credit card bills!

    [Moppet's Mom] It's depressing isn't it? You create all this high drama about leaving them and they are quite casual about the whole thing.

    [Lawyeramma] I can just about deal with the guilt of travelling for work. The guilt of a romantic getaway might just kill me :(

    [Itchingtowrite] You wouldn't. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.

    [30in2005] Then it must vary by organisation. I have a friend there who got 9 months on full pay.

    [Gettingtherenow] Do they really classify it as a 'disability'? That sounds depressing.

    [Biby] Thanks.

    [Radha] Yup, it seems unanimous. Sweden is the best!

    [Manchus] My God! That is complicated...

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  17. did you frighten a little mouse under the chair :)(think have been reading too many nursery rhymes)

    9 months of maternity leave? that's wonderful!

    did you buy anything for yrself? these days i've noticed that when i shop it's only for tara.

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  18. :) I haven't travelled after Joyce and I wonder how would it be. Should be ok I guess.

    I knew about US's ridiculous 6 weeks leave and thatz why the breast pumping and storing is such a hit.

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  19. was there any hype about shilpa shetty there- marks and spensers has roped her in as the brand ambassador i hear?

    kingfisher is good but i find all that red a little too hot to handle- possibly because i am a taurean?

    great to know u and ayan managed well- i am sure i will be anush- sick in S'pore while she will not be bothered, which is good for her.:-)

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  20. Yup that does sound depressing now that you mention it - I never paid any thought to it. All I was concerned about was that I am getting 12 weeks off, I still get paid for the first 8 weeks and I will still have this job when I get back :D

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  21. which is why my cousin keeps telling me that we should move to Canada where she gets 12 months paid leave. and other perks for having babies :)

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  22. hmm You job requires lots of traveling:-)They should let you take Ayaan & a maid too;-)

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  23. That was some amount of travelling:)I'm impressed how you managed the whole thing and glad that everything went so well. Indeed our babies I think do shock us once in a while with their resilience. Here in Canada as Scrapnqueen mentioned we do get 12 months off and it can be split between the parents. US has it really bad. About the selection for babywear you are right,I usually have to peel myself off from the baby stores when I go out shopping,you can easily go overboard:)

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  24. We seemed to have been in the UK at the same time!I went there for a training program as well. Did you get to see Sharukh at Tussaud's?He looked... well he just looked waxen :) But I still hugged him anyway :) Yeah it was rather hot, I went there armed with a thick sweater and jacket and didn't use them.

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  25. Oops, where did the Supriya come from? Haven't blogged for soooo long, I didn't realise the name was published. Well, anyway, I am also known as the inquisitive akka.

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  26. Hi,

    This is my first visit to your blog and I must say, after reading it I can't wait to be a mommy!!

    Great job :-)

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  27. Just curious, what's the maternity leave policy in India?

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  28. And, yes, as someone has already mentioned here the maternity leave period in US depends on the state. California is known to have the best maternity/paternity laws in US, also it helps to work in a bigger comapnay coz not only do they qualify for FMLA but they usaually also have better policied towards these issues. In a recent reserach for best companies to work for in US one of the companies listed (sorry the name is escaping me) gives 5 years of sabbatical time to new moms so that they can spend time with the new baby. At the end of this sabbatical period these women are trained by the company to help them chatch up with the changes (in technology and otherwise) and they are given a the same job (or a similar job if the old job is no longer avilable) that they were at the time of the sabbatical. Of course, this is a rarity rather than a norm. US is known to have the most unfriendly maternity laws amonst the "developed world".

    A friend of mine from former USSR told me that Russia provides 3 years of maternity leave! So much to anti-communism!

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  29. Yo! Nice new look! :-)

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  30. Oooh you had a makeover ! Fantastic !

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  31. Hey Rohini...love the new template!!! this calls for an update too :)

    have a nice weekend *watever is left of it* :D

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  32. [Aqua] No mice thsnkfully. And I am not as unselfish as you - bought some neat tops from Next, a pair of shoes from Clarks and stocked up on my lingerie needs from Marks and Spencers.

    [Sunita] When you do decide to travel, you will find it much easier than you expect.

    [Artnavy] Though somewhere there is a small selfish desire that they pine for you just a little bit, isn't it?

    [Ceekay] Yeah - a rose by any other name and all that... :)

    [M] There are other perks??? Like what?

    [Mommyof2] No way! The thought of taking Ayaan along on a long haul flight is too traumatic to imagine.

    [Fuzzylogic] It's all to Ayaan's credit actually that it went off as well as it did.

    [Inquisitive Akka] I went to Tussaud's when I was 156 and didn't want to sacrifice precious shopping time to go there just to catch SRK.

    [Pri] Thanks

    [Divya] It's just three months but my company just upped it to six, just like that. We also have the sabbatical thing.

    [Moppet's Mom/ Poppin/ Ekataran] Thanks! I had little to do with it though - it was all thanks to Megha

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  33. oooh...y've got a new template! very nice! we like! we like!

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  34. *wipes away tears of pride and joy*

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  35. Like the new look you've got going on over here! Very "a propos!"

    Cheers!

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  36. Wow Rohini!love the new look:)

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  37. Rohini,
    Like the new look. You have enough info on the maternal leave policy in tHE U.S already through fellow bloggers...but really between the breast pump, the nanny and work environments condusive to lactation...the women manage alright...believe me if the women raised this as an issue, the policies would be changed in a heartbeat..they are that responsive to women's issues!

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  38. [Megha] You have my undying gratitude. It's so lovely I can't stop staring at my blog...

    [Aqua/ Ceekay/ Talena/ Fuzzylogic] Isn't it cool? I LOVE it.

    [Orchid] But do moms manage to breastfeed exclusively till 4-6 months with this policy - that's what I wonder

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  39. Aaaah, so! Any stories from your teenage adventures in the UK then? Sounds like the making of a great post.

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  40. The person, your friend, geting 9 months full pay is at the benevolance of her company. It's all good but not gr8 money wise - there are basic statutory laws defining the minimum and most comapnies just stick to that. The best bit is the ability to take a year off and come back to your job intact with the option of flexibility!

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  41. I just love the new look on your blog !! :-)

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  42. [Ranjit] I was there for 4 months with my parents so I can assure you there are no exciting stories there

    [30in2005] Good to know. I feel less envious now. :)

    [Gauri] Thanks :) I deserve no credit though. It was all Megha's hard work and creativity.

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  43. awesome new look!! Where can i buy one?!

    and hey... u've done a great job on the independent little boy!

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  44. Awesome template Rohini! Hats off to Megha! *Hi Megha! Remember me? ;)*

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  45. Hi Ro,
    Liked the new template of your blog.
    Z.

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  46. @ Boo: Of course silly! Why wont I remember you? :)

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  47. We're off to see the queen this weekend. Hopefully I will find some blog fodder.

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  48. Nice new look, though the text size had me squinting, me being half blind already...and hats off to you for all the juggling you had to do for your trip...you make me feel immensely lazy and slothfull..

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  49. We stopped to see the queen, but she had gone to America to see a horse race.

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