I recently hosted a Story Share meetup with the topic of going back to work after maternity leave. Four moms of children ages 5 months-14 years shared their experiences of having a job while also having a family. There were some great reflections and tips shared with the expectant parents in attendance, and a few themes came up repeatedly.
One thing that was emphasized was the value of flexibility. Having support from understanding bosses and coworkers made a huge difference in some of the experiences. Several moms had started working remotely long before the pandemic made it common, and being able to ease back in by gradually increasing their work hours also helped.
But not all the experiences went so smoothly. Several of the moms encountered resistance that lead to them leaving their jobs, either during their maternity leave or later on as family-related issues came up. These transitions can be scary and challenging, but have led to good things. One mom decided to stay home after being pressured to change her return-to-work plan and through that experience learned that being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t for her and eventually found a more flexible job in the same field. A couple of the moms have used their own experiences to build careers helping others in similar situations. Often you end up in a place you never expected to be.
A benefit of becoming a parent is often an increase in efficiency. Some parents shared how they have found themselves completing more work in just a few hours, during nap time, for example. As priorities shift and new limitations arise, moms have come up with creative solutions, set boundaries, and asked for help. The biggest piece of advice for those who are still anticipating this transition was to keep your options open as much as possible, since you don’t know how your birth and newborn experience is going to be. Building a community is so important in our society, where the support new parents need often isn’t acknowledged, let alone easy to find.
If you are preparing for you baby and work leave right now, you can get a head start on community-building by downloading my Nesting Guide for free! Part journal, part resource list, this beautifully designed document will get you thinking about the support you need in a whole new way.