The Pre-Leave Pressure: Prepping for Parental Leave
The months and weeks leading up to parental leave can be one of the more stressful times in a working parent’s journey to parenthood. What paperwork do you need to fill out? When do you notify your HR team? How much paid time off will you get and how much of that is covered in short-term disability vs. parental leave vs. vacation? And perhaps most pressing – who will cover your workload and how will you transition that work smoothly?
Before we lay out some tips to managing through this process, remember to breathe. The work will get done and you stressing over who will respond to emails and follow up on those sales calls does nothing but take away from those precious last months and weeks leading up to baby.
Ok, now we can strategize. Below are a few high-level tips on where to start your preparation:
1. Get familiar with your company policies and meet with your HR partner. Having a contact in your company who can quickly answer questions and guide the process will make things a lot easier. You are likely not the first to be leaving for a baby and the policies should be clearly stated and shared with you.
2. Meet with your boss to discuss a plan. Come prepared with some ideas on how to transition work, what that work entails and the amount of time the responsibilities require. If you need to train someone, weave that into your conversation. This should be a collaborative process between you and your boss and it will set you up for success when you are ready to come back from leave.
3. Write that plan down. Having it in writing, with your boss’s blessing, will leave less room for confusion and error on how the plan will play out.
4. Discuss this plan with your teammates and direct reports. Be available to them to answer questions, do some shadowing sessions and train as needed – they will be thankful for it when they can’t pick up the phone and call you!
5. Thank your team! Many parents feel guilt or anxiety around handing off work – stop that! This is a part of life and you will be happy to return the favor for one of your expecting colleagues in the future.
6. Be prepared for this plan to kick-off earlier than expected. These babies wait for no one and yours may decide to mess with your well laid plans. Be OK with that and know that you have done what you can to smoothly transition your work.
We understand there is a lot that goes into parental leave- certainly more than the 6 steps we laid out above. We can help! Through the Alska platform you have access to meet with our Career Coach who can be your guide to prepare for your leave.
Shannon Curry Maternity and New Parent Consultant Connected Caregiving