It can be hard to maneuver maternity leaves in optometry clinics, especially the first time around. Both times I took my maternity leave, I was working in a corporate optical. It was my 4th year of practicing optometry, and I felt as though I had plenty to prove. My first maternity leave I was an employee and my second I was a sublease owner and each experience was different.
50 Work Hours a Week
My career path didn’t start out in corporate optometry, really started after I had gotten married and my husband and I were looking to start a family. I had always worked 50 hours a week between different private practices and did some fill in work for corporate opticals. At that time may private practices were not offering full time with benefits. I had chosen to take a full time employed position in corporate optometry because of the security and benefits. I always kept a part time or fill in job for additional income. During the pregnancy I never took any sick time and didn’t complain about being tired or use it as an excuse. When the baby arrived, I had high expectations from myself. I felt as though any sort of perceived failure was not even an option for me. I had continued with the same work ethic as before, but had a new realization of how the hours of operation and the responsibilities that came with the position might not fit with a new born. My husband and I had to work like a team more than ever! It was great to be able to take the time in the morning and prepare for the day. My corporate job started at 10am and gave me plenty of time to drop her off at daycare. In the afternoons my husband would pick her up. The corporate optical was accommodating to my pumping schedule because they had to to be by law, but anything to do with daycare closures or leaving earlier was not accommodated for.
Life does not have a clear roadmap.
Unfortunately, because I was so focused new role as Mom and responsibilities at work, I didn’t account for what was ahead. I have always been a planner, but with a child anything can pop up. I would plan meals and sleeping schedules etc ahead of time. I would work certain days that my husband was off so we didn’t have to put our child in daycare. Many times that meant making the sacrifice to work Sundays in a corporate optical to be able not put our child an extra day in daycare. I was multitasking more then ever at that time in my career. I was determined to not slow down!
New Sublease Opportunity.
While working as an employee in corporate optometry, I started to get confidence in myself and my business skills. I was able to observe optical staff and learn the business aspects of optometry. When that job finally ran its course, I knew it was time to move on and explore the next stage of my career. I always wanted to be a business owner. I was nervous to start my new sublease, knowing that I was going to have another baby in 7 months. When I signed my sublease agreement, it was my little secret that I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter. I honestly believe that if I told the recruiter and regional manager that I was pregnant during my interview, that I would never had gotten the sublease. I had heard stories in the past about female ODs about having their leases terminated when being pregnant and after maternity leave. Unfortunately in corporate optometry many decision makers of a brand are men. They have predisposed notices of young females moms and being a business owner. Many times females are held back to new opportunities because many hiring managers think that females already have to much on their plates to take on an additional task or higher position.
With my second child, I worked up to the day before giving birth. As a sublease owner, I was responsible for finding OD coverage during my maternity leave. With such a large network within this corporate brand, one would think that there would be support with recruiting and helping another sublease OD out. I had reached out multiple times a week to my regional manager to discuss coverage and other business topics, to just be sent to voicemail with no reply back. I had sent numerous emails as well with no response. After months of searching, I finally got another sublease OD to fill in. As a business owner paying an OD to sit there is not the best business strategy. Be mindful as a sublease owner to not loss money paying an OD to sit there just to have hours of coverage. Negotiate hours during maternity leave. I had a C section on my 2nd child and doctor’s recommendation was to take 8 weeks off to heal. After 1 week of maternity leave, I was getting calls 1-2 times as week from my regional manager about when I was scheduled to come back. Those phone calls continued til I came back at 8 weeks, and I did have coverage and it was the slow time of the year in the industry. During my maternity, I would get numerous emails from the regional manager about business topics on my sublease and optical store.
Balancing Work and Life
I immediately headed back to work after my maternity leave doing my regular schedule and took on a second sublease as well. I actually had the happiest time of my career during the early years of my sublease and as a new mom. Everything was new and exciting. I was able to spend plenty of time with my children, and was growing a small business. I look at my business as my 3rd child. I have grown that small business into a 3 location business and never even looked back!
Corporate optometry has its pros and cons. It might be a good place to start a female or not depending on your situation. For me I knew what the goal was in my career and found a way to utilize my time to be able to have a small business when my children needed me the most, and be able to plan out my career to have multiple subleases and different businesses. All those seeds were planted when I gave birth to my 2nd child. I knew exactly where I wanted to go and I gave my “3rd child” all the love and dedication that it needed to flourish and grow up to be a strong passive income business!
Taking the time and planning it out properly can allow you to focus on your family as well as your work. It shouldn’t be an either/or thing but rather a focus on balancing everything together