The do's and dont's of maternity leave

Top things to do before going on and while on maternity leave

How and when to tell your boss

  • As soon as your doctor gives the ok (usually 12th week) then schedule a meeting with your boss

  • Before you have the meeting pull out the calendar and look at the timing of your maternity leave so you have a sense of what projects are going to need reassigning or what you can get done before you leave

  • When you have the meeting with your boss, present your thoughts about how your work could get covered
How to prepare the team and your clients
  • Give everyone as much notice as possible

  • Go over projects and responsibilities and with your boss's blessing reassign to the team

  • Give your team all of the information they will need to get the project done

  • To make sure your clients feel that they are taken care of, introduce them by phone, email or in person if possible to the team members that will be handling their business when you are gone

  • Make it clear to your team and your clients when you are returning, and when/how you will be checking in when you are away
What to leave behind so your work is covered
  • Create a manual for your team members with contact information, project breakdowns, everything they will need when you are gone
How accessible to be when on leave
  • Decide this with your boss, but you want to control how often your team members and clients expect to hear from you. It's a slippery slope

  • Consider carving out the first two weeks as sacred time at home and then after that check in a few times a week
How to safe guard your job
  • Preparing everyone and not making your boss' job harder is the first step to securing your job

  • Make sure if you say you are going to check in when you are away, you check in

  • Do as much as you can to make sure things aren't left hanging

  • Have open lines of communication with your boss so they feel like they are in the loop but not burdened by your job
Things your boss is going to need from you
  • Updates leading up to your leave

  • Assurances that your projects and/or clients are taken care of

  • Assurances that you are coming back and are committed to the job/company
Best advice for getting back to work after baby

How to have a day one that jump starts your career

  • Before you come back, ask for updates from your team on everything, you want to be prepared for what you are going to face

  • First thing you want to do is have a meeting with your boss to fill them in on everything, and offer a plan for how you are jumping back in on projects and with clients

  • Meet with your reports and team members on the first day

  • Tone it down on the babytalk (although polite, your colleagues don't want to hear you go on about your baby)

  • Show appreciation for everyone covering for you while you are away

  • Reach out to clients to set up meetings to review everything
How to prove that you still belong at the conference table
  • Project confidence

  • Express happiness about being back at work

  • Be fully present at work, even if you are thinking about home
New mom stereotypes
  • Since people are going to be wondering if you would rather be home with the baby you have to be careful how much you talk about your leave

  • iPeople may be wondering if you lost your edge, so keep that in mind and offer to take on new projects or learn new skills

  • iWhen you are on leave spend time reading the paper and staying engaged on your industry so when you are back you can talk about things that are up-to-date
How and why to let go of the working mom guilt
  • You don't do anyone any good by being distracted all the time

  • If you have the right childcare then be assured that your kids will be fine, maybe even thrive without you

  • Make peace with the fact that you are trying your best because it is most likely the case that you have to work, so there isn't a choice
Finding harmony at work and at home

  • Delegate some of the household chores…you can't and shouldn't do it all

  • Find time for yourself

  • Accept help when it's offered

  • And remember when you are at home, be home, not on your berry every second
About Caitlin Friedman:
Girls Guide is always on Caitlin's mind. She's constantly coming up with new ways to make the Girls Guide more relevant and helpful to women who work. The evolution of the Girls Guide from one book to four and now this web-site has been under her creative direction for the past three years. Not that she figures out complicated mathematical problems on her way to sleep. But rather, she can't seem to turn it off and will find herself lying there thinking about where they can take Girls Guide next, another children's book she should write or the dialog from some guilty pleasure movie. In the daylight hours Caitlin and Kim run a food-focused pr business called YC Media and have written four books to help women achieve professional success, The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business, The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss without Being a Bitch, The Girl's Guide to Kicking Your Career Into Gear and Happy at Work, Happy at Home (coming out September 2009). Whenever possible, Caitlin and Kim speak to women about the importance of building self-confidence at work by being yourself and have appeared on national television including the Today Show multiple times, and in magazines including Time and Real Simple. Caitlin is married to writer Andrew Friedman and the mother of twins. She loves chick-lit, most everything on television, great bbq and an uninterrupted bath that lasts at least an hour.

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