Perspective from Kaitlin Saldanha, Director of Marketing Operations, Medix
One thing that we collectively learned during the pandemic when childcare and schools were upended was that we all need to do more to support working parents. Many companies took action and implemented new policies and benefits, and while that’s important, there are small things teammates can do to support the working parents on their teams on a day-to-day basis, especially new moms.
I myself am a new working mom. I came back from maternity leave in February, and while I’m still navigating my new reality, my amazing team has shown up for me and made this difficult transition as easy as it could possibly be. Here are some learnings from my experience for other teams who are welcoming back a new mom from maternity leave:
Plan a Thoughtful and Genuine “Welcome Back!”
Coming back to work from maternity leave is heartbreaking, exciting and scary, all wrapped up into one, big day. My team did everything they could to give me the best experience possible coming back. Not only did I feel celebrated and appreciated, they also gave me the opportunity to regain solid footing in my role and get acquainted with plans and projects.
How did they do this? A lot of work and thought! My team sent a care package before my first day; my boss kept my calendar clear for the first week, and she also created a detailed spreadsheet that linked everything I missed (like 2022 annual planning spreadsheets, 2021 wrap-up presentations, team updates, etc.). Creating space and providing me with everything to get caught up made my return smoother than I could have ever imagined!
Respect and Advocate for Her Boundaries
New moms have a lot on their plate outside of work, and they need to set boundaries to do it all. If the new mom on your team has pumping breaks or if she needs to pick up her child from daycare at a certain time, respect that. If you have a teammate who is not cognizant or generally being thoughtless, try to step in and intervene. Do what you can to alleviate pressure on the situation. Why? That leads me to my next point –
Know She May Feel Guilty, Anxious, Insecure or Self-Conscious
– or All of the Above
Trust me, the new mom on your team is aware that her new reality has a ripple effect. The planned disruptions, like pumping or managing childcare, and the unexpected hiccups, like a sick baby or a sleepless night, can have an impact on a given meeting, project or work day. Again, trust me, the new mom on your team will do everything she can to mitigate that impact, but that takes a physical and emotional toll. Feelings of guilt, anxiety, insecurity and self-consciousness are all-too familiar for new moms. We often tell one another to “give yourself grace,” but there will be times when we need grace from those around us too. A little kindness and understanding will go a long, long way for a new mom!
Remind Her About Her Resources
Many companies, like Medix, offer a wide array of resources for us at the different stages of our lives, but in the thick of it, sometimes we need a reminder of what they are and how to access them. If you feel like the new mom on your team might be struggling, consider giving her a gentle reminder about internal support groups or resources included in your benefits. She might be so caught up that she might not remember they’re there!
Remember She is the Same Person AND a Different Person
There are times when I feel like I’m the same person, and there are times when I feel like I’m entirely different. It’s weird, but hopefully you understand the gist of what I’m saying – there could be a little bit of an identity crisis going on with the new mom on your team. My advice to help her get through it? Roll with it with her! Talk to her about that TV show you both enjoy, but then also listen to the stories she might tell about her little one.
Moving Forward as Mom
My career and my family both bring me so much joy and fulfillment. Yes, there have been tough days so far, and certainly there will be more to come. However, being a part of a team who has my back has made me feel like I can have it all. Take some time and figure out how to do the same for the mom on your team, because an empowered new mom is unstoppable!