I am thrilled to announce that Mindful Return now offers an official Mindful Return Maternity Leave Template, to help you be intentional, structured, and professional about your upcoming leave.
Why bother presenting your employer with such a document? Don’t take it from me that it can help you up your game in your workplace. Take it from Jewelyn Cosgrove, the working mama whose plan formed the basis for Mindful Return’s template. Here are her thoughts on the benefits of presenting your employer with an official plan.
As a career-driven woman, I had a lot of anxiety heading into motherhood. The stories of mothers’ experiences finding a safe and sanitary place to pump. The data showing working mothers are often passed over for promotions or raises. The inflexibility that often leads to women taking time away from their careers when they start their families. All of these things left me extremely nervous about my future as a working mom. It’s hard not to be concerned when you hear some of the horror stories. And when the success stories aren’t widely discussed. The post-maternity leave world seems daunting enough without adding the stress of career stagnation and wage gaps!
I remember feeling a lot of stress about whether or not my absence would be noticed. Does that sound ridiculous? Or maybe it sounds familiar. I remember not wanting to let go of my major projects. And wondering what would happen to them while I was gone. I remember not knowing when I would be getting back to the office – the nature of my leave, of course, being somewhat unpredictable.
I was anxious, because I did not feel in control. And I didn’t know what would happen while I was gone – with myself or with my job. I didn’t like that feeling.
Starting a family – or expanding a family – is a really huge life event. Parenthood is a value to our society and to our workplaces. A lot of the stresses around employer-based maternity leave stem from a lack of information. Because there is no standard process in place in our country, parental leave differs depending on what state you live in, the size of your employer, and the generosity of your leadership. Not only does that leave you in a bind, but it leaves your employer with a lot of unanswered questions, too.
It occurred to me, after a few weeks of stressing and feeling like there wasn’t much I could do to prepare for my leave, that the problem was I didn’t have a plan for how I, as an employee, wanted to manage my work load, accessibility on maternity leave, or my reentry to work when I was ready. On top of that – neither did my employer, really! From a human resources perspective, they had a policy. They had my job description. And they knew who my supervisor was. But did they have everything they needed to prepare for my absence?
At this point, I stopped fretting and started planning. Your employer needs to know a number of things to adequately plan for coverage of your job while you’re out. These include: the status of current projects, how to manage new projects, your daily job duties, and when they can expect to be back at full staffing strength.
Proactively addressing these areas is one way to assure your employer that you will be back. It’s a way to set expectations around your return and ongoing work duties. And it’s a way to earn your employer’s trust by speaking to their needs. You’re dedicated to your career. That’s why you’re doing the job you do (and why you’re reading this article).
But planning your maternity leave has an important role for you, too. Going through this planning process gave me the peace of mind that I’d adequately prepared for being out of the office for an extended period of time. It also helped keep me from feeling as though I’d a left my colleagues in a lurch. And it gave me something to point to in my annual review, to demonstrate management skills and my commitment to my job.
When I wrote my own maternity leave plan, I wanted to make it clear I had no intentions of falling behind, stepping back, slowing down, or putting my ambition aside.
My plan provided the basis for the Mindful Return Maternity Leave Template – and we’ve made it available to you!
With the launch of this editable document, we make it turnkey for you to think through your leave proactively and to give you the language you need to make it work both for you and for your employer. Through the template, you’ll be prompted to think about your work, your leave, and your reentry, in a way that prepares both you and your employer for your temporary absence.
You, too, can proactively manage your maternity leave with your employer, addressing the common fail spots for both you as an employee and on behalf of your employer. And by planning you will be ahead of the game.
You truly will not be the same employee when you return to work. But you’re not changing for the worse – you’re changing for the better. A comprehensive and take-charge approach to your maternity leave dispels all the myths about how parenthood could make you less dedicated, available, or flexible. (Dads, this goes for you, too!)
This isn’t just something a Type-A worker needs – this is something every parent who takes extended time away from the office to care for their child needs to do with their employer to say “you’ve got this!”
Jewelyn Cosgrove is a working mom to a sweet little girl. She currently works as a lobbyist in Washington, DC.
To better plan your leave and return – and become part of a community of amazing new working mamas – join the next session of Mindful Return. (And when you purchase the Mindful Return Maternity Leave Template, you get $25 off the Mindful Return e-course price.)
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.