We were recently speaking with a client about parental leave transition for their working families when the word ‘smooth’ came up in conversation. The immediate reaction (and questioning) was, can the parental leave transition ever be smooth?
Over the years our coaching team have transitioned from parental leave themselves many times over and coached countless people transitioning back to work. It is a time filled with many, often competing, emotions – anticipation, sadness, joy, guilt, excitement, optimism, fear, happiness, overwhelm … .
After spending many weeks or months at home with a baby the separation can feel daunting and frightening while at the same time the thought of getting back to your career, colleagues and drinking a cup of coffee while it’s still warm is exciting. These competing emotions are completely normal and healthy. All transitions take some adjustments and our emotions are all part of a healthy adjustment process.
By definition, a transition is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another (Cambridge Dictionary). When we become parents and navigate the return to the workforce we are navigating the change from working person to working parent. It can be a complex and stressful time working through this new identity and reality.
Setting ourselves up for success and preparing for the transition is key. Having a realistic mindset and expectations are critical. It takes time to settle back into work, realign your work and family priorities and navigate.
1. Defining what success looks like for you and your family
2. Being open about what you need at work and at home
3. Taking care of your own wellbeing
4. Finding support and connections
5. Starting as you mean to go on, set boundaries and expectations early
6. Having a flexible mindset and being open to change – there will be days things don’t go to plan – that’s ok
7. Focus on what you can control and take one day at a time
8. Be kind to yourself – transitions take time to adjust to
Having or adopting a new baby or child in our lives should be a joyful experience for all involved and doesn’t have to be hard when we take care of ourselves and remain open to the challenge. It really is all in the approach!
By Lisa Davison, Head of Coaching & Facilitation (and mother of three) at Parents At Work.