Dear LiL: I have come back from maternity leave and having trouble getting back into the swing of things and re-establishing my practice – any advice on how to make this transition successful? Signed ~ Back in the Saddle
Dear Back in the Saddle:
Coming back from maternity leave can be tricky. You may face the competing pressures of wanting to jump right back into work with the mom guilt from being away from your children. Plus, you are often trying to navigate this path while sleep deprived. It is easy to see why it is very overwhelming. My own leave after twins was very short and returning to work in a quiet office environment where I could drink an entire coffee without being peed on was a treat. But I could only do this because of the help I had from my family and our childcare providers.
I think the number one most important rule when transitioning back is to try to be kind to yourself. Your life has changed. The demands on your time have changed. You can still be a dedicated high performing lawyer but you may need to do things differently.
Think about when you are most productive, where you are most productive, what needs to be done, and what you can delegate. You may need to start work later or leave earlier to accommodate childcare issues. Most firms have become more flexible than in the past. If the only good thing to arise out of COVID is better acceptance of remote working, use it to your advantage. Don’t take this all on alone if possible – I am a strong believer that your partner may have to change how he or she works as well. You do not need to leave work to attend every check -up yourself. Alternate if possible. If you are a single parent, you may need to lean on others to help out.
Once you have yourself settled into a routine, work your connections. If you are physically back at work, walk around (with a mask of course) to show people you are back and ready to take on new projects. Take back the files you had before, if possible, or offer to be involved in others. Having a clear slate may afford you the opportunity to take on new work that you may not have had the time for before. Just don’t ask everyone for work at the same time or you can become quickly overwhelmed. Re-connect with clients and other work sources. You can call clients, set up a video chat or send an email to let them know you are available.
Use any slow time you have to get caught up on your CLE credits, write those articles you have been putting off or pursue marketing opportunities.
Finally, connect with other working parents – I know being able to share a story about a sleepless night with others who assured me that children do eventually sleep gave me hope. Good luck!