Maternity leave in Brazil

While she was on maternity leave, Carina and her family travelled to Brazil. The simplicity of life with their relatives in Brazil was a welcome change of pace. But they still found time for an eventful road trip between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and spent wonderful hours on Brazil’s famous beaches!

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – On her maternity leave, Carina went to Brazil with her 5-year-old son, pictured here on the beach.
Take long walks on the beach, play soccer and swim at dusk. A hit when you have young children and want to avoid the worst of the heat.
Photo: Private

First Nigeria, then Brazil

The ability of Carina, who is on maternity leave, to travel to Brazil with her husband Ike and their children depended on two things. The family finances were one important piece of the puzzle, as they are for most of us.

“We’d already made one long-haul trip at the turn of the year 2015/16. We visited Ike’s family in Nigeria for six weeks. It took some careful budgeting to be able to afford an equally long journey to Brazil.”

The family’s ability to travel to Brazil depended on two things.

The trip to Brazil was a spur-of-the-moment solution to the chaos of a complete change of plumbing system in the family’s apartment in Sollentuna outside Stockholm. And because their daughter Zoe was a newborn, they wanted to stay away for as long as the work was in progress. So they spent seven weeks in Brazil! Carina explains how plumbing chaos was transformed into an eventful trip.

“We stayed in a town house we borrowed for a month before we left. Although it involved scrimping and saving, we managed to escape the plumbing chaos and take another long-haul trip. This time, we visited my relatives in Brazil.”

Brazilian road trip

The second piece that needed to be in place was where they were going to stay in Brazil.

“I have lots of maternal aunts and uncles in Brazil who I’ve visited before. But I hadn’t been there with Ike and my children.”

Finding somewhere to stay was no problem. Carina’s aunts and uncles welcomed them with open arms, and the family divided their time between São Paulo and Bertioga, a coastal town outside São Paulo.

“We rented a car and drove around a lot. From São Paulo north to my uncles in Minas Gerais, then to Rio de Janeiro and along the coast via Paraty and back to São Paulo. A fantastic but intensive roundtrip lasting two weeks.”

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – Carina on maternity leave with her family in Brazil.
Social worker Carina Svensson Ohajekwe with Zoe, 9 months, and husband Ike. Their 5-year-old son Caleb also went with them to Brazil.

A taste of multigenerational living

The simplicity of life with Carina’s relatives was a welcome change of pace. The family has a busy lifestyle in Sollentuna. Carina mentions some other new experiences she and her children had during their maternity leave trip.

“Multigenerational living was the greatest difference. In my family in Brazil, three generations live under one roof. My aunts and uncles, my cousins and their partners, and their children. And since we’ve come home, my son often talks about the beach – he longs to go back there.”

My son often talks about the beach – he longs to go back there.

And no one they met could quite believe that Carina and Ike were able to stay at home for such a long time with their children – and still get paid.

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“One of my cousins in Brazil asked me just this week if I’d gone back to work yet. I’m deeply grateful that we’re able to stay at home with the children for so long. It’s very noticeable in contrast to my cousins in Brazil or Ike’s siblings in Nigeria. The situation can vary in both Brazil and Nigeria depending on whether you work in the public or private sector, but about 4-6 months’ parental leave is the legal norm. But paid parental leave tends to be a bit hit-and-miss for parents in Nigeria.”

Carina laughs when the subject of sticking to routines on a trip away from home comes up.

“It was impossible and we didn’t even try. I’m sure other people are better at sticking to routines than we are. The challenge for us was getting back into the old routines when we got home. It took two weeks for us to get back on our feet again.

6 things I can do during my maternity leave in Brazil

  1. Enjoy Brazilian coffee, freshly baked bread and fresh fruit for breakfast.
  2. Take long walks on the beach, play soccer and swim at dusk. A hit when you have young children and want to avoid the worst of the heat.
  3. Drink countless fruit drinks and smoothies – preferably on the beach, with fried cassava.
  4. Eat grilled fish in a restaurant with a sea view. Or anything barbecued in Brazil! There’s a fantastic restaurant in Jabaquara, Paraty.
  5. Enjoy the incredible scenery with all the hills and mountains in Rio and Minas! Simply divine. Even on short hikes you can see waterfalls and take a dip.
  6. Go swimming in tropical rain or why not in the pools that form? The perfect place to play when the sun comes out again.