How to hit the office running as a working mum
Becoming a mum; for most it’s bigger than buying a home, getting married, or winning Lotto. In fact it is Lotto and that little bundle in your arms is worth all the millions in the world! Becoming a mum is better than anything, but for the career-conscious, it also comes with its unknowns. How long before I can go back to work? What happens when I do? Will I still be taken seriously as an employee? Here are some tips to help you balance babies with business.
Plan maternity leave in your first trimester
You might not yet be showing, but the stress will be. The earlier you discuss your departure and planned return to work, the easier your pregnancy will be. If you’re in front office finance, you can quietly hand over work without a last minute rush of training. You’ll also have time to work through your emotions and see whether they’re headed down a more family-oriented path. An open and supportive dialogue with your employer will help to ensure you have the right work-baby balance when you return.
Get all the paperwork
If your employers are up to speed with maternity leave requirements, they’ll have all the right policies for you to look over – Flexible Work, Parental Leave, and Telecommuting. So make sure you ask for all three and study them thoroughly to ensure there are no hidden issues.
Use high performance to your advantage
Not in a devious way, but if you were a star performer before pregnancy, chances are you will be after, albeit perhaps with a revised commitment. Skills are skills; experience is experience, so make sure both play their part in your bargaining power. If you feel like you’re asking for favours, that’s all you’ll get. View yourself as a worthy post-pregnancy employee and your ongoing worthiness will impact on others.
Stay in the loop
You might be primarily focussed on babies on parental leave, but it’s nice to keep in touch with company developments while you’re away. Find out if there is a parental leave program to help you keep in touch. And ask if you will have intranet and business email access to keep in touch.
Keep an open mind
Not all companies make it their business to look after employees planning a family. If there is clear reluctance to support you this may be a good time to consider other employment options post-pregnancy. There are plenty of family-friendly employers in Australia. In fact financial services was one of the first industry sectors to bring in paid maternity leave when they realised valuable employees weren’t coming back. The key is not to view yourself as a liability and be apologetic about your family needs. You’re still a valuable asset with the same skill set whether you’re a mum or not, so negotiate early and with confidence.
First published by Meredith Jordan on LinkedIn on Sept 30th, 2016