Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You – Checking In with Work While You’re On Leave

You’re not alone if you’re thinking that being away from the office during your maternity leave will impact your job.  Quite a few women are so closely tied with their work that they can’t imagine being out of the hustle and bustle while they are home with their newborns.  Thinking that they’ll be able to juggle it all they sometimes commit to a lot more contact with work than they end up wanting.

That said, it’s a good idea to keep expectations low regarding how you’ll be checking in with the office.  Don’t make commitments about calling in every day or answering emails because you just don’t know how life will be until after the baby arrives.  Make sure that your level of communication doesn’t hook you into working on projects, working directly with clients or promising to deliver the results at the annual shareholder meeting. 

Read moreDon’t Call Me, I’ll Call You – Checking In with Work While You’re On Leave

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Online Tool for Moms

I was doing a bit of interwebbing today and ran across the Child Care Aware website.   They’ve got a helpful decision tool that walks you through questions to determine whether you should go back to work or stay home.   It also helps you:

  • consider critical areas of your lives impacted by child care decisions
  • Examine feelings regarding child care options
  • Seek the most appropriate resources and support for those choices

http://ccaapps.childcareaware.org/en/tools/decision_making_tool/index.php

The Letter of the Law

My hope is that for every pregnant woman out in the workplace there are caring, supportive managers and co-workers who are going to help make their transition to motherhood a beautiful one.  I’m an optimist and I generally think that most people have the best intentions and don’t plan on alienating others.   That said, I would recommend that expectant mothers keep in mind that sometimes other employees feel awkward that they are “with child” and some of the offensive behavior you experience may really be general weirdness and not true harassment.

Read moreThe Letter of the Law

“Those Moms” and their pants

I had a great chat earlier this week with a close friend who is having her first baby in two months. I love a good hormone fueled conversation so this one was great! In frustration and with guilt she proclaimed, “I’m just not cut out to be one of those trendy stay at home moms who wears yoga pants everywhere and runs marathons! I also don’t want to wear pink kitty cat sweatshirts and mom jeans! Am I wrong to want to go back to work after I’ve bonded with my baby and just be me?!?!”.

Read more“Those Moms” and their pants

Daycare Drama

Luckily for us my back-to-work childcare situation was a breeze.   For the first 8 weeks back, he stayed right across from my office building in an amazing company-run childcare center.  Even though he was just a blob of a 3 month old, he did arts and crafts and had story time.  They were wonderful!

Then, he went on to stay with a mom from church, her son and our friends’ little girl.  It was so cozy and loving.  We had to transition to a new arrangement and from heaven dropped in my sister who was wonderful with our son and I could never thank her enough for the care she gave to him.  So, with childcare we went from great, greater to greatest!  We were living the parenting dream!

It’s inevitable that you wake up from dreams (or you don’t and that’s not a good thing either) and reality kicks in.  Mine was the first day my son was in “daycare”.  I say “daycare” because for parents there are subtle ways we communicate how good of parents we are by the way we describe where they are while we’re at work.   Nannies and sitters mean you fork over the money for them to stay at home.  The higher echelons of parenting send their kids to Montessori or an academy.  There’s mothers’ day out and nursery.  When your kid is a toddler they can go to pre-school.  But, you rarely see a parent standing up and saying with pride “I dropped off my kid at DAYCARE this morning!”  I don’t know what it is but it just feels icky.

Read moreDaycare Drama

Supermoms Need a Rescue

Everyone’s talking about this study about “supermoms” and I couldn’t help adding a few thoughts too.  http://www.livescience.com/15663-supermom-depression.html  Good news for me is that I wholeheartedly agree with the researcher Katrina Leupp and her findings line up exactly with my experiences.  Here’s a bit of what she had to say.

Women who expect to have it all probably come up against workplaces that aren’t designed with work-life balance in mind, she said. When they can’t balance everything perfectly, these supermoms are more likely to feel frustration and guilt.

I’d like to expand this to stay at home supermoms too.  I know a few who are extreme Type As and have high expectations for their home life based upon their success in the business world.  I even had one friend who was measuring her baby’s poop to make sure it was within acceptable ranges.  I don’t need to survey 1600 women  to know that once you’ve started sticking a tape measure in dirty diapers, it’s gone too far.

So, I say to all moms out there, “If you are loving your child, feeding them, providing shelter, growing them to be strong in character and hugging them as much as you can – you’re all the supermom they’ll ever need.”  When the balls you’re juggling fall on the floor and the hats on your head topple over, just look at a few family photos and soak up what you’ve really accomplished.

What To Do While You’re Home on Maternity Leave

Rumor is that this was painted by DaVinci while Madona was home on maternity leave from her corporate job.

Here’s what I thought I’d be doing while I was home with the baby during maternity leave:

  • I’d be nursing in a white flowing gown with soft light shining down  and songbirds singing in the background
  • I’d pack up the baby and we’d head out for the mall to get in a good walk and some window shopping
  • Lunching with stay at home friends who I thought must be the luckiest women in the world
  • Creating a masterpiece of a scrapbook that would be the envy of all
  • Exercising during the baby’s nap in order to get back in shape after gaining 50 lbs

    Read moreWhat To Do While You’re Home on Maternity Leave

Sisterhood of the Traveling Maternity Pants

I couldn’t wait to get maternity clothes.  Soon I was initiated into the sisterhood of the traveling maternity pants when friends offered up their maternity clothes on loan while I was going to be in need.  The first bag arrived and although I was only two months along, I just knew that I was huge so I tried them on immediately.  I was disappointed when everything seemed too loose.   (Keep in mind that I had only gained five pounds of the total of the fifty that were coming!)

So a few weeks passed and my pants were finally getting snug.  I stopped by Target after work and was glad to see in the maternity section some black and khaki pants that would be great for work.  The stretchy panels were even on the side in v shapes so they didn’t look nearly as hideous as those disgusting jean/pants things that I always saw expectant mothers resorting to. (Keep in mind that I eventually broke down and wore some hand-me-down disgusting jean/pants things because that was all that would fit.  Light wash “jean” material with a royal blue knit panel in front.  S.E.X.Y!)

Read moreSisterhood of the Traveling Maternity Pants

Let the guilt begin. Working and mothering don’t always mix.

Toward the end of my three-month maternity leave I must admit that I was excited that I had gotten a call from my manager asking me to participate on a conference call for a project I’d be on when I got back to work.  “They still need me!” I thought and beamed with pride at the request.

I planned it all out.  I’d put my son down for a nap about 15 minutes before to make sure he was in full on snooze.  His room was next to the home office and I could close the door so he wouldn’t be disturbed.  It’d be perfect and I was about to prove to myself that I could do it ALL!

Read moreLet the guilt begin. Working and mothering don’t always mix.

Maternity Leave Questions for HR

I thought this was a helpful write up on questions to ask HR about your company’s policy on Maternity Leave.  Thanks workitmom.com!

http://www.workitmom.com/checklists/detail/2984/20-questions-to-ask-your-human-resources-department-before-going-on-maternity-leave

There are tons of other questions and expectations you’ll want to set with your manager regarding your leave so I’ll be posting more on boss basics soon.

Any other questions that you’d add to the HR list?

Is Your Baby Registry Work-Appropriate?

Good news!  Even if everyone at work despises you, they will like your baby.  Since that is the case, your co-workers will probably want to throw you a baby shower.  If they’re so happy for you and the life you’re bringing into the world, of course they will be totally respectful of your wishes and desires for baby products.  Yep, not so much!

If you’re like most new moms, you logged in to babiesrus.com within minutes of seeing the plus sign on your pregnancy test.  You read all the reviews and from a totally self/baby-centered perspective, clicked the check box for any and everything you’d ever need.  Onesies, blankets, sheets, bottles, nursing supplies, nipple cream… Standard fare right?

Think of it this way, if your IT department would flag “nipple cream” or “butt paste” as a search in Google as inappropriate, you probably shouldn’t let your co-workers know that this is on your list of must haves.  Three reasons come to mind. 

Read moreIs Your Baby Registry Work-Appropriate?

First Visit to the Lactation Room

First, let me be clear that I have a deep felt gratitude for all those corporate Lactation Rooms out there.   They’re just funny so I’ll share my first experience with one.

I remember that before I left for my maternity leave that I was given the code to the door of our Lactation Room.  I felt like I was in a secret society of fabulous mothers who were perfectly balancing work and life by providing sustenance to their newborns by bringing home the bacon (and the milk).  Nursing was stressful for me and luckily during my time at home with the baby I had mastered the machine and thought I was fully prepped for day one back at work.  Boy was I wrong?!

Read moreFirst Visit to the Lactation Room

Don’t Ask, Do Tell – When to let them know you’re expecting

When should you let your employer know that you have a baby on the way?  I’m sure there are varying opinions but in general I’d say the sooner the better.  Here are some reasons why:

  1. If you were the boss, you’d like to know.  Let’s put their shoe on your ever expanding maternity foot.  Fast forward one year and you’ve fallen in love with your nanny/child care provider.  They’re dependable, they do an excellent job and they’d be super hard to replace.  Then one day they show up and tell you that they’re taking the next three months off and you’re required to hold their job for them while they’re gone.  Huh?!?  You’d freak out!  You don’t have a back up because they’re the only one you want and you didn’t have time to make a plan.

    Read moreDon’t Ask, Do Tell – When to let them know you’re expecting