Tips for returning to work from recent new parents
Take these actions
- Schedule a call and connect with HR (30-60 minutes)
- Email your manager to plan for your return (5-10 minutes)
- Do a trial run of your new morning routine (30-60 minutes)
- Connect with other parents (5-10 minutes)
- Create a 30-day and 90-day plan with your manager (60 minutes)
💭 Why is this important? 💭
Establishing new routines and setting specific goals over the first 90 days provides structure and clarity to help ease the transition of returning to work.
1 month before: Connect with HR
Schedule a call with your HR or benefits representative to discuss:
- Your return date to the office.
- Any schedule changes. Take advantage of a flexible schedule for your first two weeks back.
- Review your full benefits package and make any needed updates.
- Any other outstanding paperwork.
- Information on pumping at work (if applicable).
🚼 New parent tips:
- New parents generally suggest returning to work on a Thursday or Friday on that first week back. It’ll make your transition easier to start back with a shorter week.
- Some new mothers recommend blocking off time on your calendar for pumping so that you don’t have to unexpectedly duck out of meetings.
2-4 weeks before: Email your manager and plan your return
Email your manager with the following information:
- The day you plan to return to the office (after confirming with HR)
- Any changes that will affect your schedule (e.g., you’ll be pumping twice a day, you’ll need to leave the office early because of childcare, etc.)
- Optional: It’d be nice to meet with your manager either via phone or in-person before your first day back.
Here’s a sample email:
Subject: Return to Work Update
I am getting excited about my return to the office. My parental leave is winding down, and after speaking with Human Resources, [Month DD, YYYY] will be my first official day back in the office.
Do you have time to meet the week before my return? It would be helpful for me to catch up on the latest projects and be filled in on your priority tasks for me. If not, let’s definitely schedule some time on the morning of my return.
In the meantime, just a few notes regarding details about my first few months back in the office. I’ll be pumping (if relevant), and [name] in HR has already let me know where to go. I’ll be sure to block off the time on my calendar to try to avoid any overlap with scheduled team meetings.
[Share any particular schedule changes or time restrictions: For example: On Thursdays, I’ll be arriving at the office early but will have to leave at 4:30 p.m. Please let me know if you think this schedule change is a problem.]
I am looking forward to getting back to work and will see you soon.
One week before: Do a Trial Run
Practice makes perfect. Prepare yourself for your new morning routine.
🚼 New parent tip:
- Set an alarm, take the child to childcare, and do the commute to work or back home ending with a coffee or breakfast at their favorite place nearby.
One week before (and ongoing): connect with other parents
Connect with other new parents or those who recently returned from parental leave. Join [insert] slack channel or [insert] email chain. They will be a great source of support!
In your first week back: Create a 30-day and 90-day plan with your manager
Meet with your manager to get up to speed. Ask questions like:
- Have there been any changes I need to be aware of while I was out? (For example, reorgs, changes in leadership, new team members, a shift in priorities for the team/group?)
- What are the current priorities? This will help you focus and hit the ground running on what’s most important, instead of getting bogged down in unimportant tasks.
- Is there any training on new systems/processes, re-orientation, re-onboarding, etc., that I may need?
Create a plan that includes your specific goals and learning needs during your first 30 and 90 days back.
After your return: remember to be kind to yourself
This is a major transition - it’s important to acknowledge that and the learning curve it comes with.
🚼 New parent tip:
- Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. And most of all, be patient and kind to yourself. Remember that asking for help is a sign of strength. There will be many people to support you!