Parental Leave and Beyond

So you’re finally on parental leave with your new baby. YAY! Here are some tips to make the time less stressful and more fun as well as hopping back on board when you return to work.


If you haven’t seen our Negotiating for your Parental Leave article,

Also see the Top 10 Things To Do After Baby Is Born.

At the beginning of your maternity leave….

  • Enjoy parenthood without worrying about your job. Embrace your role as a parent and enjoy this new and sometimes overwhelming role.
  • Stay connected but not ‘too’ connected. If you can, try to unplug. It’s doubtful you can give 100% to both a new baby and work. Use this time to re-energize and get some distance.
  • Check in with line managers during appropriate times, and if there is an “availability date” when you can accept work-related emails let people know that’s coming up.
  • Get help while you’re off work. Just because you’re being a full-time parent for a few weeks/months doesn’t mean you have to give up self-care. If you can get a helper to watch the baby so you can take a walk in the park, do it. Making sure you stay rested and mentally strong is important.
  • Visit the office during your time off to give some “face” time and keep you in colleague’s minds while you’re gone. If you are breastfeeding, check out where you might pump and do a test run when you’re not on the clock.
  • Feeling overwhelmed and it’s not going away? Reach out and get help if a feeling of sadness, loss and depression is not going away. You could be experiencing PPD.


About a month before you go back to work….

  • Think through final work related issues before you start including wardrobe, milk supply issues for childcare, sleeping problems, childcare arrangements, and other help-related matters.
  • Understand that going back to your job will take an adjustment.
  • Explore all childcare options and backups. Any choice has pros and cons, and feeling nervous about leaving your baby is natural. It takes about a month to find a nanny, more for a daycare. Figure out back up plans too for things like illness and weather emergencies.


PSP is there for you:


The week before you go back to work….

  • If possible, phase in your childcare arrangement during this period so that you have time to prepare for going back to work.
  • Set up a routine. See the PSP article about getting to school on time—same thing applies to work! Need to leave at 8:15? Work backwards at how long things take to get your start times.
  • Start making lists. Keep separate lists for caregivers/daycare and work. Compartmentalize to make things easier.
  • Create a calendar of reminders. Need to send a birthday card to x, y, and z? Order your monthly pills? Change the cat litter after 3 weeks? Set up a calendar event to remind you, (Note: In Google you can create a sub-calendar with a different color that you can hide when you don’t need it.)
  • Do a test run to make sure that what you have planned is doable. Figure out how much time you need to get out of the house (and add 20 minutes). Visit the office and do a testing pump session (if relevant) to make sure you have what you need.


When you return to work….

  • Be gentle with yourself. As a new parent the transition to “working parent” may be disorienting and sometimes guilt-laden. You may also feel guilty feeling happy back at work. Acknowledge your may have lots of different feelings that can be at odds with what you were expecting (or different from what other people are feeling). Take time to feel these different things is part of the process.
  • Do as much as you can the night before. It will make the day run smoother knowing that you have your MetroCard and keys (and the rest of your list) ready to go.
  • Start on a Thursday or Friday to make the first week transition easier.
  • Find a support system at work. Pinpoint the people who you trust if you’re feeling overwhelmed, guilty, and ready to quit. However, share these feelings cautiously.
  • Outsource what you can. Having food and diapers delivered can save you time and help you feel less crazed.
  • Give yourself some kudos. Doing it all (even if it doesn’t feel perfect) is a new adventure and you’re bound to make a few oopsies. Give yourself credit and treat yourself to a night out with your friends to celebrate.
  • Work on ‘blending’ rather than balancing work/life. You can have a satisfying work and home life without struggling to find a “balance” which can seem like an unattainable goal.


More Resources from PSP:

Working Mother Topics

Your Rights: Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Beyond

Back To Work With a Baby (Lots of great quotes and help from moms).

8 Tips to Help With Separation Anxiety

Back-to-Work Anxiety

Pumping At Work Tips for Breast Feeding Moms