That sweet baby breath. The adorable little coos. The endless snuggles in your warm embrace. While being on parental leave is a lot of work, it’s these types of experiences that make it so incredibly special.
As the end of your leave nears and you prepare to head back to work, sadness and panic can set in. How are you supposed to leave this perfect little person to go back to the office?
I just returned to LinkUp after 12 weeks of maternity leave with my own adorable little man, so I know how tough it can be. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to ease the transition and become a rock-star working parent. Here are my top tips.
Return in the middle of the week
Heading back into a full workweek can be overwhelming. Consider starting in the middle of the week instead. Starting on a Wednesday, for example, means you have a few days to get back in the swing of things before taking on new projects the following week. Plus, you only have three work days until the weekend.
Identify and communicate your needs prior to returning
To ensure you have what you need to do your job as a parent and professional well, you must communicate these needs before you return. Do you need a lactation space? Companies are required to provide a private space by law. Do you need a later start time to accommodate day care schedules? Ask about shifting your hours. Most companies are willing to work with you to reasonably accommodate your needs, but you must speak up.
Consider returning part-time initially
If your company is subject to FMLA, both men and women are allowed job protection for 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child, but you don’t have to take it all at once. Consider intermittent FMLA to make the transition easier for the whole family. You may want to work four-hour days instead of eight, or, perhaps you and your partner can rotate taking two weeks off until you both have completed your FMLA. Ask your HR department and try to determine a schedule that works for everyone
Get to know your child care provider
If your new bundle of joy is going to a home day care or child care center, it can be scary. Countless parents have cried handing their babies off to “strangers” for the first time as they head back to work. You can cut down on the back-to-work blues by spending some time with your child care provider before your leave ends. Set up a few days to visit, observe and get comfortable with the routine and dynamic. You’ll feel better about drop-off when you know what to expect.
Make time to get organized
If you think you have a lot of email after being gone for a week of vacation, just imagine being out for 12 weeks! You’ll likely have loads of email to filter through, among many other things you’ll need to get up to speed on. Make sure you block off enough time to get organized so you can do your job well.
Be kind to yourself
Most importantly, manage your expectations and be kind to yourself. Shifting away from being with your baby 24/7 is hard at first, but it will make coming home at the end of the day more enjoyable than ever! Understand the transition will take time. Before you know it, you’ll be sailing through your days like the super mom or dad you really are.
I’m so thankful LinkUp afforded me the opportunity to enjoy maternity leave with my son Griffin, but I’m excited to be back working for the greatest job site on the web!