Along with Papua New Guinea and Oman, the US is one of only three countries left in the world that do not guarantee paid maternity leave. What we have here instead is the Family Medical Leave Act, which guarantees most new mothers with jobs 12 weeks of UNPAID leave.
So things are already tough enough for American mommas who want to maintain their careers. If you have a leadership role, the stress can feel overwhelming!
You’ll have to catch back up with what you missed while you were out, take the reins back from whoever was pitching in during your absence, and manage to balance you worklife with your new responsibilities as a parent. Yikes!
Like with all life changes, this particular transition can be made much more smooth by laying out a plan. Career Partners International managing partner Elaine Varelas suggests you follow this outline for your 90 day return-to-work transition:
- Clarify your role. There should be no complications between what your job was and what it is when you return.
- Schedule calls about a week before your return with your boss and most senior employee. Review the status of projects, financial issues, human resources situations, and other activities that occurred while you were out.
- Arrange your return date. Be good to yourself, and return midweek. The stress of a full week is something you can do without.
- Be patient. With more demands on your schedule, you may find that your tolerance for anything less than the highest level of efficiency has diminished. Take a breath. Most returning parents end their days earlier and get online again at night.
- Meet with your staff. You want your team to know that expectations for performance haven’t changed. Reassure them of your accessibility and regain your confidence in their commitment.
- Arrange another call. Set aside time to speak with your child-care professional during the work day. Decide who makes the call and when.
- As you return to making professional contributions and recognize your daughter is secure, you will begin the transition. Balancing the demands of career and a new baby is a significant challenge – one which many women do successfully.