Returning to work after parental leave is a major adjustment. In 2019, a study by Workplace Options showed that 23 percent of employees considered quitting their job due to stress from child care issues.
After a lengthy hiatus, there are often new hires, updated policies and a lot of catching up to do. So how does one jump back into work while balancing the responsibility of caring for a child?
“One of the biggest challenges has been adjusting to a new schedule,” said Bob Manix-Cramer, director of product management at online financial company Betterment.
Instead of a cannonball into the work pool, a toe-dip might be the smarter start. “Take advantage of the fact that it will take some time for your professional responsibilities to regrow and create a gradual transition to achieving work-life balance,” said Manix-Cramer.
For working parents, fear not. Manix-Cramer said adaption is achievable. Besides utilizing company benefits, Manix-Cramer recommends ramping up to a full-time schedule slowly and finding creative times to work (like after the baby’s bedtime).
What steps did you take to prepare for your return to the office after parental leave?
I tried to get back into a work-friendly routine that included scheduled meals and excluded mid-day naps. Also, I tried to set aside a few hours leading up to my return to really go through emails and messages to start to get caught up.
Enjoy your last few days off and don’t expect to hit the ground running your first day back at work.”
What were the biggest challenges you faced after returning to work, and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges has been adjusting to this new schedule. Previously I’d have time set aside in the morning to prepare my day or would stay late to work through personal to-dos. I’ve had to rethink my daily schedule and more closely manage it to allow me to get work done during business hours. If absolutely necessary, I’ll open my laptop after our baby’s bedtime.
What advice would you give to other parents returning to work?
Enjoy your last few days off and don’t expect to hit the ground running your first day back at work. Take advantage of the fact it will take some time for your professional responsibilities to regrow and create a gradual transition to achieving work-life balance.