I have often said that children are a corporate inconvenience and this is borne out by the estimated 50,000 + women who have lost their jobs because of discrimination against working mothers. So, how can you find the right balance when returning from maternity leave after having your baby?
Here are 10 tips returning from maternity leave:
- Plan before you take maternity leave: having a baby is one of the most challenging transitions a woman will experience. Many fail to create a plan and leave a high number of elements to chance and innate, as yet, undefined skills. Work with a coach or mentor if necessary. It will be a great investment
- Agree the balance of responsibilities with your partner: Know who is going to do what in this new life you have forged for yourself. As Shirley Conran said “You don’t need a pair of breasts to take a child to the dentist.”
- Establish childcare support in advance: check out childcare options and decide which suits you best. Some crèches and day-care centres actually have waiting lists. You may want to set up hiring processes for nannies. Some women are also shocked at the cost of childcare and how it eats into net salary. Think of this as a strategic long-term investment in your career.
- Establish contact with your cover: You should have been part of the cover strategy. Get in touch with your cover some time before your return to work and make sure make sure you are up to speed on the key issues before you return to the office.
- Plan for contingencies: Think ahead – what will you do if your baby become sick or there are other issues? Have back-up plans. Note the plural. Create a support network, this when your networking will take a different turn. Prepare a list of telephone and email addresses for key people to contact to cope with any unforeseen issues. Make sure they are on your phone. This could include, babysitters, doctors, nearest hospitals, chemists, delivery or taxi companies, neighbours or friends
- Re-entry debriefing: Prior to your return, set up meetings with key stakeholders to establish the process you are going to follow for your strategic re-integration. This could involve discussions on the future role of your replacement who will now go back to a more junior role, announcements, hand-over procedures, kick-off meetings etc.
- Ask for a mentor: an increasing number of companies are providing mentors for returning mothers. Depending on the length of your maternity leave you could still be tired and finding a balance may not be easy. Finding someone who has walked in your shoes will be helpful.
- Create a 90 day onboarding plan: the trial and error period when you are test driving all your new systems.
- Don’t become a baby bore: your new arrival will of course be the cutest baby ever, but after initial pleasantries, other than your inner circle, most people will not want detailed accounts of the sleepless nights, first steps or teething problems.
- Don’t bring the baby and all the associated paraphernalia to the office. He or she should be your priority and if there is a problem deal with it at home.
What else would you add?