Happy Summer! Take a moment to check out a
Washington Post article that includes an interview with
one of my clients on her coaching experience. Also be sure to
look for my interview about the challenges facing working
mothers on an upcoming episode of View from the Bay,
on CBS in San Francisco.
This ezine's featured article offers practical solutions for
back to work after maternity leave and serves as a reminder for
more seasoned working parents on how to achieve work/family
To your health, happiness and success,
|How to Transition Back to Work After Maternity Leave
If you're like many of my clients who return to work
after maternity leave, you may view your job as a
welcome vacation from the exhausting responsibilities of caring
for a newborn. Oh, the irony. However, as you prepare to go
back to work, you may unexpectedly be faced with a whole
new set of challenges, including growing feelings of
anxiety and guilt about not staying home with your
child. Here are a few ideas to help you through this process:
Plan Your Plan
Carefully select the best back-to-work date for you and your
family. Try to anticipate how much time you'll need (and how
much time you'll get) as best as you can. Review your
employer's maternity leave policy and talk with other working
mothers in your field. Work with your husband/partner to assess
your personal financial situation to determine when and how
(part-time, flex schedule, etc.) you'll return to work. Also, be
sure to review your Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
eligibility. As you start to explore these questions, you may also
find it helpful to create a work-plan for you and your growing
family that outlines what your weekly schedule will look like.
Partner with Your Partner
Talk to your husband/partner about your plan and
make sure you're both on the same page. You'll strengthen
your relationship, save time and energy and build the support
you'll need throughout this transition. You might be surprised
to find that your partner shares similar feelings about his or her
return to work. Talk with your partner about what is going to
work best for the family, as a whole. Remember that
perfect options don't exist. There will be sacrifices by
both parents. Money, time, convenience and
fast-paced career growth are among the biggest things
that may change. The best option will include sacrifices with
which you both can live. By engaging in honest, ongoing
communication with your partner/husband, you'll be able to
successfully manage this transition together.
Communicate at Work Too
Not everyone has the luxury of working with colleagues
who are familiar with the challenges of returning to
work after maternity leave. Talk regularly
with your supervisor and/or your staff about your schedule,
priorities and options. Only you know what you need to
balance your roles as mom and professional, so speak up.
No Woman is an Island - Delegate!
One of the secrets to success as a working mom is
learning how to delegate to other staff, your
husband/partner, your family, etc. If you're
overwhelmed with work, take a look at your to-do list and ask
yourself some honest questions. What do you absolutely
need to do right now? What can you postpone, delegate or
say "no" to? On the personal front, hiring a cleaning person
day a week may be all it takes to make you feel in
control of your home life again. Maybe it's time for him to start
ironing his own shirts or for your older children to start doing the
dishes. Spread the workload around a little -small changes can
make a big difference.
Find Comfort in Childcare
The more comfortable you are with your childcare
situation, the easier it will be for you to focus on work.
Set-up a trial run with your daycare for a week before
you return to work to prevent any last minute surprises
about reliability, scheduling, pick-up/drop-off, etc.
Breast-pumps and Boardrooms
Some larger family-friendly companies now have
special rooms devoted to pumping, called lactation
stations. If your company doesn't have such a room,
set-up a daily pumping schedule where you can shut
your office door (or use someone else's office when
they're in meetings). Cover the windows, lock the door
and put a note on the door as to when you'll be done.
Make sure you've got refrigeration available (if needed)
and consider how convenient your clothing is to workday
pumping. Pumping at the office can be a hassle
but it gives you the freedom to continue nursing for as long as
you choose. As an added bonus, if you're missing your
baby, stressed, or feeling guilty, you may find that the
oxytocin and endorphins released through the
pumping will help alleviate some of these feelings.
Expect to Feel Guilty
When you're working a lot of hours and away from your
child for long periods of time, you may be consumed
with feelings of guilt. You may also feel guilty for leaving
your child to go to work, guilty that going to work
sometimes feels like a welcome break from your child
or guilty when you have to leave work early. Guilt is a
given. I work with my clients to help them manage this
guilt (see the last ezine article on how to manage guilt).
You can't control guilt but you can choose what you
want to do about it.
Learn How to Compartmentalize
As we already established, when you're at work, you
may feel guilty. Then, when you're with your child, you
may find that you're easily distracted by thoughts of
work, household chores or a million little tasks that need
attention. Do your best to be in the moment. If you're
able to be fully present when spending time with your
child, you'll feel less guilty when you're not with them.
Easier said than done, right? Read my upcoming
article for tricks on how to become more present and focused
when spending quality time with your baby.
Set a Trial Period
Allow yourself a ninety-day trial period to see how your
new weekly schedule works for you and your family.
Once you're through this trial period, assess how it's
working and change your schedule accordingly. Also,
as your child grows and develops, you may need to
continue to tweak your schedule.
Keep it in Perspective
At the end of the day, all of this careful planning can't
account for emotions. During the post-partum period,
your hormones are in huge flux and if you find yourself
in tears the first day back at work, remember that
you're not alone and there's no need to beat yourself
up about it. The good news is, research shows that if
you have an enjoyable job that inspires and motivates
you, it's beneficial for your health and for the health of
your child. So, hang in there, give yourself a break and
remember that by taking care of yourself, you're taking care of
Amber Rosenberg is a professional life coach who helps
working mothers manage their guilt and stress levels so they
can enjoy more balance between kids, work, marriage, and
personal time. After 11 years struggling to create her own
work/life balance in the corporate and non-profit worlds, she is
passionate about helping women actively choose how they
want to spend their time. A popular speaker and frequently
interviewed for national print, TV and radio media outlets,
Amber co-authored the book Inspiration to Realization
with a chapter on "How to Manage Your Love/Hate
Relationship with Time". To sign-up for a
complimentary coaching consultation, order a signed
copy of her book or sign-up for the Working Mothers'
FREE monthly e-zine, go to http://www.pacificlifecoach.com
"Before working with Amber, I felt like I was
constantly playing catch-up at home and at work. I was
stressed out and exhausted and felt like I didn't have
enough of myself to give. Through coaching, I've
learned how to re-define my roles of mother, manager
and wife and am enjoying what it feels like to be
- Jessica Montel, director of marketing, mother of
"Amber's coaching has helped me to feel more
in control of my time. I learned to focus on the things I
absolutely have to do and how to say "no" or delegate
for everything else. I'm getting more done in less time
and am able to spend more quality time with my
- Layla Adams, sales executive, mother of one
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Reviewed by Entrepreneur Magazine as 'summer's
bets' for women, I am a contributing author for the
book "Inspiration to Realization" with a chapter called: 'How to
Manage Your Love/Hate Relationship with Time'.
Other chapters focus on: how to say 'no' without
feeling guilty; tools to discover your secret
against stress; how to turn your small business
into a brand-name success and much more.
"The collective wisdom in this book is a
resource for women who want to bring joy and
fulfillment into their lives...every day."
-- Ruth King, Author, The Ugly Truth about Small
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