Starting a new job after maternity leave

New baby, new job? PSP members share what they learned about handling this. 

Original Poster:

“I'm reaching out because I'm currently on maternity leave with an almost-6 week old (my second child--my first is 2 1/2), and I have to decide whether to apply for a new job [...]

What's really holding me back from deciding to go for it is the thought of returning from leave--a naturally stressful time--to a new job.  Do I really want to deal with that?  It was definitely stressful to go back to work after my first maternity leave, and I really appreciated that I could kind of ease in at work for the first week or two (month or two?) as I figured out childcare issues, pumping, getting home in time for dinner/bedtime, etc. etc.  I'm sure going back this time will have many of the same stresses.  Do I want to add "figuring out an entirely new job" to that stress?  (And definitely this new job would be a steep learning curve, I think.)

It's obviously a totally personal decision, and there's no right answer, but I was hoping that you lovely working moms might have some experiences to share, either positive or negative, that might help me make it.”




When considering a new gig, look for things like family friendly policies and pay attention to warning signs:

“I knew I couldn't go back to my job after my leave because of the long hours so I spent my maternity leave looking for a new job and found one that seemed amazing. Very long story short I quickly realized that the job was terrible but the whole idea of not having to go back to a really tricky situation at my current job was so appealing.

I ended up arriving at a mutual agreement and posting ways from the new job but this left me unemployed and panicked for a month.

Now I'm at a job I love, a company I love, and am happy. I wouldn't have ended up here if I'd gone back to my old gig though.

Ultimately, what I took away was I knew I couldn't return because the company, which now is actually going bankrupt, was not family-friendly. In my postpartum mind the new gig seemed good but I want clear and ignored big warning signs. Clear headed, I made a great call and am happy. You know what will and will not work, plus I suspect since you aren't a first-time Mom you have a better sense than I did."


Research, research, research. Then, list pros and cons:

my only advice is to do as much research as you possibly can, make pro-con lists - and I've learned that I do best if I make a list then assign a weighted value between 1+10 (1 being not that important, 10 being key) to each item on both sides of the list and then count up the total value of the pro's and con's and figure out the true net pro/con ratio ... And really listen to your gut and your heart. ( I think marissa mayer of yahoo took the ceo job during her pregnancy and took 2 weeks off from work as leave. That might not work for you).

While I haven't had to move jobs during a maternity leave or nearby, I'm in a similar situation now having started grad school this semester while working flex-heavy part-time as a lawyer and getting (amicably) separated this month- it kind of comes down to how much can you handle and what are your priorities.  In my case I've had to decide whether I can handle one vs two classes at night while working out 50/50 joint custody arrangements and handling a part-time corporate lawyer job with no set hours (work comes in day, night, weekends) and a lot of unpredictability and (when work comes in) pressure. in the end and after a lot of hand wringing I decided to take one class and audit a second, as a safety value. and it still might be too much

I also had to decide last summer whether to start a (seemingly wonderful) new marketing job while starting grad school. In the end I decided I couldn't so deferred grad school. Like the poster below I ignored a lot of major red flags in the new job and realized it was a big mistake and in my case I went back to my old legal job and started grad school

We do what we can when we can. it is a matter of priorities and your individual capabilities.


Make sure you are clear about the working terms YOU want:

" I did just that, I have a 3 and now 1 year old too. I giggle as I had the same logistical issues re interviewing while on mat leave - luckily my husband works at same company as me so I took the baby in and he watched her while I interviewed (6 interviews!) but worked ok. My situation was a little different, [my child] was 8 months old [....] it was an internal role so not as daunting as a new company, I was more then ready for a promo but hadn't pursued one due to the pregnancy, but also a rare role so wasn't likely to come up again for a few years.

It worked out great for me but I made a few things clear - I work 8-4 and one day from home and was only willing to take job on that basis and I went back 4 days for the first month to help baby transition. It's def a challenge - stretched at work and at home! But I love the job and feel content and happy with work and family balance, I'm glad I went for it!"


Related reading on Park Slope Parents:

Should I take a break from work?

How to Negotiate Work Life Balance When Job Hunting

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