Open Thread: Work After Maternity Leave

work-after-maternity-leave

2017 update: We still stand by the advice below, but you may also want to check out our discussion on what to wear to work after maternity leave!

What are some of your best tips for adjusting upon returning to work after maternity leave? What do you wish you’d known, or what did you come to realize?

For my own $.02: Among my friends, the end of maternity leave has loomed large in all of our lives — but on a kind of sliding scale. Women who had to go back to work at 10 weeks (or even sooner) dreaded it terribly, while women with longer leaves — 6 months or more — typically felt much better about it and almost welcomed the end of their leave. A few bits of advice along those lines:

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Working Moms — and Playdates

Working Moms -- and Playdates | CorporetteMoms2018 Update: We still stand by this discussion on working moms, playdates, and introverts — but you may also want to check out some of our other discussions on mom friends.

As proud mama to a 4.5-year-old, I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m in playdate hell.

To be clear: I like the other moms I meet. I want my kid to be friends with their kids. But I’m tired of arranging playdates — and feeling guilty if I don’t arrange them — and if I’m expected to be at the playdate, I’m tired of worrying if I’m social and happy and likeable enough. (Caveat: I may have general social anxiety issues in addition to being an introvert, but that’s another story for another time.) There’s the added stress of symmetry when trying to arrange these things — for example, in my experience most SAHMs would rather meet for a playdate with the mother, not the nanny. As a working mother, furthermore, setting up a playdate where I show up and supervise necessarily means it’s during my two least favorite times to be obligated: the post-work/pre-sleep period that we still rightfully call “the witching hour” — or the weekend, when it feels like we have a million errands, classes, family fun, and grown-up social obligations as well to juggle around.

I don’t even think it’s a working mom problem — I think all parents feel like this! — but I do think working mothers get the brunt of it because it’s yet another thing on our plates. (Speaking of plates — another source of stress! If you’re hosting you’re supposed to have kid-appropriate food and a vaguely tidy house! To be honest I haven’t brought food to any playdates we’ve been to, but perhaps I should be? See, more stress.)

Ladies, what are your thoughts? Do you feel stress regarding playdates — and do you think your status as a working mother increases your stress?

Pictured: I’ve actually read this book, though long ago — it was funny! Clearly I need to give it a reread. 

Starting a Working Parents’ Group at the Office

A few months ago, a friend and I were talking about how her huge company has a pretty strict face time requirement at the office. As a parent she felt it really limited her upward mobility at the company, and she felt somewhat like she didn’t have a voice in the matter. So we began pondering: how do you start a special interest group at your office to give people in a similar situation a voice? Do you think starting such a group puts a target on your back (as in, you want to work on Easy Street, not Real Life)? Do you think it’s better to band together with other working parents — or couch such a group’s interests in terms of “women’s interests” — or a more general work/life committee?

(Some offices even have work/life committees, of course — which sometimes leads to pretty comical comparisons of things like “making it a priority to go to a Katy Perry concert” vs. general parenting, or “Katy Perry concert” vs. labor and delivery. I swear I am not making that up, that was actually a comparison used in a law firm memo.)

Some tips for starting your own affinity group, such as one for working parents:

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Mamas, Holidays, and Stress

crazy christmas2017 Update: We still think this is an interesting discussion about mamas, holidays, and stress. Since it’s that time of year, you may also want to check out our posts on holiday business etiquette.

So: anyone else feel like your head is about to explode? Between buying gifts for everyone, including in-laws, cleaning Casa Griffin for company (ok, cleaning Casa Griffin so our cleaning professional can actually clean it), making sure I have all supplies needed for holiday recipes before the stores close — and getting what work I need to get done before everything is making me totally crazy. How is it December 23? What’s my plan of attack, particularly with no school for the next two weeks? Happy holidays, indeed.

I guess this is my fifth Christmas as a mom, but the first time really feeling the stress. Moms who’ve been in my shoes much longer: does it get better? Ladies, do you feel the stress? What do you do to alleviate it during this time of year (other than, you know, not leaving everything until the last minute)? In the great juggle of work and life, which stressor is more significant this year?

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Job and Career Changes After Baby: Did You Make Changes? How?

Career Changes After Baby | CorporetteMomsLadies, have you made career changes after having your baby? If so, how did your career, job, and general standard operating procedures change because of family? Did you effectively plan for the change before meeting your son or daughter, or did you change plans midstream? We talked once about planning your career for babies (back when I was pregnant with Jack!) but not really since, and I’m curious for your take.

Kate recently sent me a snapshot of a local article, quoting a pregnant television producer/host:

DeTar hopes to film Fringe Benefits past the second season and expressed interest in moving into other countries and writing a companion book for the show. With a child on the way, she doesn’t expect her aspirations or goals to change.

“I feel so thankful for the timing of all of it… maybe I’m being really naive, but I don’t see anything changing,” she says. “I… have the most supportive husband in the universe, and I don’t think he would let me not continue with the show.”

This is well-timed with other stuff I’ve been seeing recently — there was a recent article in Forbes about how a lot of women become freelancers, contractors, or entrepreneurs when they become mothers. And there was a great discussion (on this site and Corporette) on how to have a baby when both parents are working in BigLaw. SO, ladies, let’s hear it — how, if at all, has your Plan changed since having kids? Were there particular deciding factors (money, time, etc.), or was it a more general sense of “everything is different now“? For those of you who HAVE adhered to your Plan (since I’m assuming, cynically perhaps, that most of us have switched gears a bit) — how much focus did it take? Were there factors that were must-haves (double nannies, SAHD, etc)?

Pictured at top: Whychus Creek, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ian Sane

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“The Best 15 Minutes of My Day”: How Do You Find Time to Spend With Your Kids?

spending-time-with-kidsHow do you find time to spend with your kids? How long each day do you have with them?  I can’t find the original article, but there was a story a while ago where a female CEO was quoted as saying that the 15 minutes she spent with her children were the best 15 minutes of her day. At the time, the reaction to this quote on Corporette (I think the quote predated CorporetteMoms) was immense — why even HAVE kids, a number of people argued, if that’s all the time you’re going to spend with them? But I know soooooo many working fathers who get home well after the kids are in bed, and leave pretty early in the morning — one mom I know actually asked her husband to stay away until their child was in bed, because she didn’t want the child to get all excited right before bedtime.  So: 15 minutes on a daily basis might be a generous statistic for some people! Let’s discuss: how long on workdays do you get to spend with your kids? Do you think daily time is less important than quality time on the weekends? Is the daily number different for your husband — and do you think fathers have a different bar? If someone magically created a 25th hour in each day, would you spend it with your kids — or would you find other things (work, working out, sleep) to spend it on? Do you think there are times in a child’s life that it doesn’t really matter how long you spend with them?

For my own $.02, I try to remember that sometimes just physically being with them is important — if I’m in a busy period for work and need to be in front of a computer when I should be on mom time, I try to work on a laptop with Jack snuggled next to me on the couch watching cartoons.  Harry is getting old enough now (and we finally finished weaning) that I’d like to set up “parent dates” on the weekend where we each have dedicated one-on-one time with each boy.

Ladies, what are your thoughts — how do you find time to spend with your kids? How long do you get to spend with them on a daily basis?  What habits and hacks have helped? 

Pictured: Kikkerland Owlet Kitchen Timer, $7.75 at Amazon.

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N.B. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course we highly value all comments by our readers, we’re going to ask you to please keep your comments on topic; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. Thank you for your understanding!