This is an article in our Pregnancy Week by Week series, a resource to help you manage your job and life, through and after your pregnancy.
Week 46: How Much Should You Keep In Touch With Work?
Some of you may be wondering how much to stay in touch with your work and boss during your maternity leave. This week, we explore how different women handle being out of the office.
Based on these stories, whether and how much you keep in touch with your boss and office depends on what kind of job you have, and also the length of your leave.
If you’re only going to be a gone just a few short weeks, you’ll probably feel pretty entitled to take a full and complete break. For those of you lucky ducks who may take several months of parental leave, it’s probably a different story. Also, let’s face it. This is a matter of your personality and how much you actually like your job and co-workers.
The Phone Addict
Hey, it’s a habit. We get it. That’s why Laura in New York needed some explicit permission to tune out. She explained that the baby slept a lot in the first few days so she felt like she fell back into old habits (ahem, addictions).
“Um...I was on email every few hours for the first few days. I couldn’t figure out how to let go of work, to be honest. I got better at it as the weeks went on, and also because I was soooo tired I couldn’t keep up anymore. But my boss even replied at one point to me saying, ‘Go be with your baby!’ That’s when I turned off the phone.”
Then there are people who say leave is leave. No phone, no email. Nada.
“I’m on leave! I’m bonding with my baby, figuring out how to breastfeed, and I really am in no shape to be talking to anyone about work since I can barely find time to go to the bathroom!”
We hear you, Patty, we do. And hope you get to pee soon.
The Old-School Way
Believe it or not, some of us like to keep it real by seeing people face-to-face. Emily in San Francisco told us, “I've visited with certain people often and have spent a lot of time with another coworker out in leave. I enjoy seeing them, but often steered convo away from work.”
While this may not really count as keeping in touch, it actually sounds like a really nice way to keep your finger on the pulse of the important stuff (major changes at work) without having to actually be involved with the details of actual work. Pretty genius -- and sounds like a pretty fun place to work, too.
Moderation in Everything
Miss your work wife? Some of us pick and choose who we want to be in touch with and keep everyone else at arm’s length. As one woman who is currently on leave from Thomson Reuters told us, “I speak to my boss bi-weekly, read emails a few times a week and text with friends from work almost daily.”
The Social Media Stalker
Just scroll, but never post? If your M.O. on social is FOMO, this might be how you approach work, too.
Vivian, who works at a large tech company in Silicon Valley told us that “I checked email frequently (only to read, not respond).” Hint: if you have a trigger finger and inability to not jump into the fray, do this at your own risk!
Finally, what you do at the beginning may be different towards the end of your maternity leave. While you you gear up to return to work, you might want to check in and remind people that (a) you’re coming back, and (b) you’d love to set up some time to catch up and figure out what you missed.
Your boss will probably appreciate you proactively reaching out a week or so before your return. And this way you can start slowly making the mental shift back, too.
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Is it normal to do some amount of work while on maternity leave?
Do most women do some work while on leave - or at least check in with colleagues on what's going on at the office? Or is it better to totally disconnect?
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