The path to motherhood is an incredible experience, and while it’s easy to get lost in all its bliss (as is expected!), it’s important for working mothers (or soon to be!) to keep in mind that nine months isn’t that far out after all. Stress is detrimental during a pregnancy, and though it’s inevitable in some cases, there are some apprehensions that are avoidable…starting with your career.
Just like baby proofing a house prior to the arrival of a new addition to prevent any accidents from happening, consider proofing the workplace, too! Four to six months prior to maternity leave, expecting mothers should consider doing the following to avoid anxiety and feel prepared:
- Creating a client playbook. A binder of up-to-date activity on any project, account, client, etc. you’re working on is a must! Include a summary of the latest client interaction, each account’s contact person and information, next steps for each account and what is due, passwords and usernames, et cetera). This way the team is briefed and prepared for any need that arises.
- Your agenda. Jot down daily, weekly or monthly tasks. This doesn’t have to include minute-to-minute details, but should be a broad overview to ensure the team fully understands what each assignment entails.
- Who gets what? Be sure to allocate duties to colleagues or a temp replacement. When doing so, consider the skill set of each team member and what they can handle.
- Establishing guidelines and rules. Discuss how and when the team can be in touch while you’re out. This will be different for each role depending on how many touch points the position entails. A rule of thumb is to under promise and over deliver. Start off telling them the leave will the maximum time, and that you will have limited availability. Leave it as a pleasant surprise if you decide to return sooner than planned!
- Strategy planning sessions. It’s important to set these meetings up far in advance of a maternity leave so that everything is hashed out and everyone is comfortable with their added roles. Plus, teammates can shadow and see how you communicate with certain clients or handle certain projects.
- If you work with clients/customers…over communicate! Notify your clients early on when the leave starts and the slated return date. This can be done through email, direct mail, a phone call, et cetera. Don’t stop there! Stay connected during the leave. Set up a fun out-of-the-office message, send an email announcing the birth with a photo, or schedule monthly emails in advance to stay on the clients’ radars and continue the relationship.
- Team-building exercise. Whether in a management position or an employee, suggest a day of team-bonding activities to strengthen relationships before the leave.
- A return strategy. Understand what needs to be done once you return to the office. The added stress isn’t needed, so consider planning everything ahead of time. Coming back to a to-do list will allow you to hit the ground running!
Congratulations to all new and repeat mothers!