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.
It is a good idea though to stay generally informed about what is going on at work. While I was out on leave, my company was in the midst of a merger and subsequent layoffs. As much as I wanted to put 100% of my focus on the baby, the worry about the future of my job was still gnawing at me. My supervisor was wonderful and would call or email once a week to give an update on how things were going with the merger, who had moved into what roles and to give me a heads up that although my status was safe while I was out on leave, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at my resume. She put me at ease and helped me tone down my stress about whether I’d have a job when I got back.
If you don’t want to get left out, get a coworker to copy you on important emails that you can check on your own time. It’s also good to have one person designated to manage communication with you instead of having everyone in the office calling you every day. Increase your involvement with work closer to your return date. I even brought the baby up to work for an informal lunch with co-workers a week before my first day back. They got to see my cutie and I got the dish on what was happening in the office – what a great day!