Letting go of your career, even for a short time, can create huge anxiety.
You’ve spent years establishing a professional profile and becoming an expert at your craft. It’s not surprising that you might feel a bit lost when that all gets put on hold. And I haven’t even mentioned the identity crisis that hits when you bring a new child into the world!
Keeping in touch with your work while on maternity leave is one way to help with the adjustment.
So you’ve made it through pregnancy, giving birth and those early, sleep-deprived, hazy days. You’ve found your new normal – at least until it changes again – and you’ve found your mind wandering to work. You know, the thing that used to fill most of your time before your tiny human came along. You want to check-in and “keep in touch”.
How do you do it?
Here are 7 ways to get started:
1. Social catch up
Everyone loves a baby, especially a brand spanking new one.
Take your bundle of joy to the office for a visit. Not only will you get the chance to show him/her off, but you can catch up on the office gossip too.
Better still, arrange cake.
2. Training and CPD
Racking up some CPD points is a good way to keep up to date with changes in the industry or refresh your knowledge. Providers like LawCPD and Coursera offer online courses that you can complete at your own pace.
3. HR / management meetings
While you probably don’t want to deal with hundreds of emails, you might like to still have a say in how things are run. Joining in on important meetings means that you can contribute and stay in the loop with what’s going on.
If showing up at the office is too hard, you can phone in or join using an online conference provider like Zoom. You can join from the comfort of your own home. And no one needs to know you’re still in your pyjamas.
4. LinkedIn and other social media
Social media can be a terrible time suck. But it is also a fantastic way of connecting people.
LinkedIn is great for connecting with colleagues and keeping an eye on what’s going on in the professional world.
Facebook is full of professional network groups too. And you don’t just have to talk business. The ladies in Lawyer Mums Australia will have your back while you work up the courage to take your brand new baby along to a conference, or laugh (and cry!) with you when your daughter leaves a beautiful crayon drawing on that very important document.
Books, e-books, articles, blog posts, twitter feeds, status updates – the options are endless. Reading can keep you occupied during those late night feeds. It’s also handy when you’re stuck under a sleeping baby.
If you need to be hands-free, try audiobooks and podcasts. Check out The Juggle Podcast, I hear it’s great …
Volunteering is another way to keep engaged while on leave. Not only can you help someone else with your skills, but it will also look great on your CV.
7. Your own passion project
While you’re busy keeping in touch with your employer, don’t forget about your own goals.
“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”
Use the time away from work to nut out your own passion projects. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to code, make candles or write a book.
Don’t be so quick to give your time to others that you forget about yourself.
What about my paid parental leave?
The keeping in touch provisions allow you to work for up to 10 days without affecting your leave entitlements or government-funded paid parental leave. In other words, you can keep in touch and be paid for it.
Managing the juggle
I’ve written previously about the ways I stayed engaged with my career while on maternity leave. I’d love to hear what you’ve done too. What can we add to this list?
For more practical tips and advice about juggling work and family, tune in to The Juggle Podcast. We interview “jugglers”, employers and thought leaders to discover how you can have a satisfying career and a fulfilling family life.