“So how will you continue with your work?” – “Will you still be travelling as much?” – “Are you actually on maternity leave?” – “You know, you should really write a blog post about it, Elena!” Well, eventually I did, and here it is. Kudos to a new situation that is sometimes keeping me and my partner up at night, discussing what might seem dry at first, but is actually highly entertaining to us at present:
So how do you do it as a female travel blogger getting pregnant?
A good question, and one I chose to address right away together with my first medical exams at the doctor. As everywhere I guess, women entrepreneurs here in Austria have different models and options to choose from right before the birth of the child. Step by step, let me tell you what we did.
Having a plan is half the work done.
It may be part of our culture (many international friendships, business projects and relationships with partners from other countries have told me so), but it’s true: We, that is I, love having a plan. And a plan is what you need, according to my view, when expecting a child: As an entrepreneur, I went back and forth inside my triangle of pregnancy, social security plans, and tax advisors for choosing the best option for me personally as well as my business.
Here is what I’ve come up with, regarding our situation here in Austria:
- After confirming my pregnancy with the gynaecologist and delivering the happy news to friends and family, the next person to turn to was my tax advisor and / or accountant. My father, who started our company and developed it for many years, my accountant, my tax advisor and I met early to discuss possibilities and options from the birth of our child.
- Parallel to this, social security comes with the first piece of information: They tell you about the estimated start of maternity protection, whereby you receive a “weekly allowance” (a daily rate of € 55.04, which is paid two months before and after the birth for financial support of woman and child; a period in which it is also legally not possible to work), information about the possibilities of the different paid maternity leave models, as well as the child care allowance. Austrian social security offers either lump sum payments (with a fixed monthly amount up to a maximum of two and a half years) or depending on income (depending on the income statement of the calendar year before the birth of the child).
- Given our good economic situation, i.e. the income in the year previous to the birth of the child, the decision was quickly made to choose the income-dependent childcare allowance with a maximum of € 2,000 per month. The model “12 + 2” (entitlement for up to 14 months, if the partner “takes over” two months) forced Georg and me to think about who would take over which childcare allowance, also with regard to my company: Our solution is that Georg replaces me after about six months, starts his two months, and I then get childcare allowance again for the remainder of the entitlement period.
- There are two main things to keep in mind concerning childcare benefit in Austria: First, to save a part of the social security money and not to spend everything in the first year 😉 and second, above all, that an additional income limit is set once you receive social security money from the state. From an entrepreneurial point of view, this limit is very low since we are applying for the maximum amount that can be given out.
So, to put it in a nutshell: As I receive (quite high) monthly social security payments, I should really “not be minding my own business”, i.e. not earn anything on top really.
And this change in mindset is what honestly disturbs me as an entrepreneur in this model, however great it may be and however much money we may get in Austria. Because I can’t really shelve my professional network, which I have built up over almost ten years, just like that. From an economic point of view, however, this is exactly what is required if you don’t want to fear a late additional claim from the social security system: as few projects as possible, as little income as possible, hardly any profit during that time, because the fear of possible repayment if you exceed the additional earning limit is high, given the many thousands of euros you receive.
It’s a little crazy, really. We live in an affluent society, do not need to fear for our lives or those of our children when we step out the door, enjoy entrepreneurial freedom, as well as the promotion of women in business, the promotion of young entrepreneurs, and much more. But as soon as a child appears, everything goes back to “the way it was”: Georg works in the construction industry, where paternity leaves are either unheard of, or certainly not desired. As a woman, you have to shoulder everything, including the consideration of how things will continue after the end of childcare benefits. Alternative models, such as those discussed among friends and business partners, are almost always based on a good family network (which is simply necessary for a working work-life-balance), men’s willingness and ability to take over childcare, and individual solutions or cutbacks, very often made by women.
I am very curious as to how exactly everything will turn out in the long run.
My mum recently retired. Liam’s great-grandparents live a few minutes away, fit and full of joy about the little one. Georg is very willing to contribute something, anything, he really wants to go on leave and stay with our son. I can manage much of my entrepreneurial projects from home, can work hours before or after work. Georg supports me wherever he can. We can travel, keep appointments, combine work and travel as best as we can.
All considerations given, it is an adventure in life that I, as the mother of three-month-old Liam, would not want to miss for anything in the world anymore.
What’s your point of view on all of this? I am curious to hear from you!