Real talk: Parents are basically superheroes. We’re fairly sure you grow an extra arm, you learn to multitask like a goddamn wizard, you make a thousand trips to Target without going broke (how’s that even possible?!). But listen, even superheroes need love! Especially if they’re raising a superhero-in-training.
We’re proud members of the Parental Leave Pledge, committed to giving new mamas AND papas the time they need with their new additions. Yes, it’s a huge commitment—and no, we didn’t think it was optional. If we want more awesome women to stay in the workforce and be the boss-ladies we know they are, we need to support them (that includes encouraging men to take leave so the ladies aren’t the only ones fighting the system).
But paid leave isn’t all fun and games. That stuff is HARD work. Jen, our Head of Client Happiness, wanted to share her thoughts on how to make it the best experience for you, the babe, and let’s not forget, the team you’re saying ta-ta to for the next 3+ months.
1. Make a plan. The best way to have a successful parental leave is to feel confident that things will run smooooothly in your absence. So, make a plan. Do it sooner than later. Get your support in place, talk through schedules, hopes, concerns—all of it. Connect clients with the appropriate team members who will be running point on their account and/or projects while you’re doin’ the baby thing. Without a plan, the rest of these pieces of advice will be Struggle City.
2. Be communicative. It’s go-time. Set a great away message for the time you’re going to be away. Let’s make people smile and spread the love around! This is a joyous thing, after all :)
Check out the OOO message I used, and some of our other favorites here.
3. Empower your team and TRUST them. Know that you are fully supported. Remember there’s a plan in place. You can relax, promise! Or at least tell yourself you can relax. This is a great time to show your team and colleagues how much you know they rock. Not only that, it’s an opportunity for your team to grow. Let them do their thang, so you can do yours.
4. Be transparent. And be easy on yourself. Really. It's okay if you find you're not handling everything with effortless joie de vivre. Instead of trying to present your most polished self of life with your tiny #newroommate, be honest. It helps when your team knows the reality and can plan accordingly. Tell everyone if you need to take time, and go easy on yourself. Ask for help and know that again, you got this, and you are supported.
5. Set some boundaries. You have the power, and really the responsibility, to set the tone for your leave. Answering “just this one email” can be a detriment to you and your team, since your availability can quickly become more of a gray area. If there’s truly an emergency, your team will reach out. Otherwise, keep your head in the game :)
6. Be prepared. If you’re working from home without a second (or third) in command to help out, take time to get things organized. Work zone and baby zone will inevitably cross-pollinate, so let go of any fantastical aspirations that suggest otherwise. Get pumping supplies ready to go so that you don’t have to be planning or scrambling. Shit takes more time than you probably are imagining. And set alarms!
7. Be realistic. Guess what? You might not want to go back—that’s so normal. It’s also totally normal if you find you really do want to come back. Be honest with yourself as you strategize your return to work. Friday’s off for the first month? Speak up. And when it is time to come on back, make sure it’s in the middle of the week. Never do a full week. You’ll have that buzzy first day of school feeling on day 1, but then it can feel overwhelming. Having a weekend on the horizon always helps.
For more on the parental leave pledge and the other amazing places that have taken this on, check out this site.
Go forth and procreate!