Preparing for parental leave? 3 things you’re going to want to do…
There’s a lot of chat about returning to work after becoming a parent, but what about preparing for parental leave?
It can feel overwhelming. Full of uncertainty, like you’re on a countdown to something you’re not entirely sure you can articulate. You’re about to become a parent but what happens to your role? Are they going to miss you? Will you know how to do your job when you return? Is your career done and dusted?
Well, absolutely not and preparing for parental leave doesn’t have to be complicated or full of definite answers.
There are heaps of things you can do to feel empowered when you’re preparing for parental leave. You’ve got the power to bring in clarity where you might be feeling a bit fuzzy. Keeping it practical and involving your line manager is where the magic will happen. You might be initiating some of this stuff, BUT you’re not having to do it alone.
Here are three things that create some strong foundations for maternity, adoption, shared parental or surrogacy leave.
1) COMMUNICATION GOALS
Think about how you’d like to be kept in contact with as part of preparing for parental leave. There’s no official rule book and we all have our preferences…it’s time to think about yours! Not everything needs to be formal either. Giving your line manager the green light for the odd text to see how you’re getting on might be just the thing.
As you prepare for parental leave, reflect on WHAT you’d like to hear about as well as HOW, alongside your BOUNDARIES (yes, capitals are necessary). I once picked up my phone to multiple missed calls from a director. I was about two months into my first maternity leave and I panicked. No voicemail, but a text saying ‘give me a call when you can’. They were simply checking in. Wanted to know how I was getting on, dealing with sleep deprivation etc etc. I think my heart finally slowed down an hour after the call. So, if an out of the blue phone call would set your pulse racing, maybe a boundary to consider here would be something along the lines of ‘please email or text in the first instance’.
Remember common sense isn’t always common practice…
2) TALENT CONVERSATIONS
How will you be represented in talent conversations? It doesn’t have to be exact but do you have any thoughts about roles or teams when you return? What about your strengths?
Whilst there’s always the possibility of change while you’re away from the business you can still share your thoughts. You can break away from traditional role chat by offering up things like ‘I’m at my best when…’ or ‘I’ve really enjoyed being involved with…’ as reflections for your strengths. This blog post might help bring it to life for you.
As you get preparing for parental leave, get those guidelines given to your line manager. You could also include a sponsor and maybe even your HR business partner (or equivalent).
3) MAKE A FRIEND IN PAYROLL
Preparing for parental leave is also a time to get practical when it comes to money. Working out what your take home salary is going to be can be a maths conundrum. When pay days roll around and you have a query, it can be like doing a puzzle with missing pieces. See if you can get an actual name for someone you can speak to. When you’re tired, juggling a kid and navigating new routines, the last thing you need is a helpdesk that can’t help.
There are so many different things you can do when it comes to preparing for parental leave. We’re all unique in what we’ll need, and so are our employers. This article from LinkedIn is a first hand account of how someone prepared for their parental leave – in this case maternity leave. The charity Adoption UK also have a wealth of support communities for intended parents that you can get access to here.