Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Q. There is plenty of information about getting prepared to go out on maternity leave. But how do I come back into a leadership role, act professionally, focus on work, and not be watching the clock to see what time I can leave to see my new daughter? I am not a kid — I married and had a child late in life, and my role within the organization is senior. Is this a work question, or do I need a therapist?

A. Even senior executives need to focus on more than work. Employees coming back from a leave can ensure a smooth transition by making a plan for a successful first 90 days on an old job with a new life situation.

Clarify your role. There should be no complications between what your job was and what it is when you return.

Schedule calls about a week before your return with your boss and most senior employee. Review the status of projects, financial issues, human resources situations, and other activities that occurred while you were out.

Arrange your return date. Be good to yourself, and return midweek. The stress of a full week is something you can do without.

Be patient. With more demands on your schedule, you may find that your tolerance for anything less than the highest level of efficiency has diminished. Take a breath. Most returning parents end their days earlier and get online again at night.

Meet with your staff. You want your team to know that expectations for performance haven’t changed. Reassure them of your accessibility and regain your confidence in their commitment.

Arrange another call. Set aside time to speak with your child-care professional during the work day. Decide who makes the call and when.

As you return to making professional contributions and recognize your daughter is secure, you will begin the transition. Balancing the demands of career and a new baby is a significant challenge – one which many women do successfully.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners/Career Partners International – Boston, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

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