It's Working Project

"I am confident in my ability to do my job, but I have very little confidence in my employer's understanding or ability to build a work environment that eliminates unnecessary pressure and burdens on all employees, not just the parents."

What is one piece of advice you wish you could offer your former expectant self?

Getting permission to work part-time is far different than actually having your employer’s support to adjust your work responsibilities to accommodate a reduced schedule.

What was your primary motivation for deciding to return (or not) to work? How early did you tell your employer?

I wanted to return to work and I’m glad that I did – but becoming a parent and choosing to be away from my daughter has made me recommit to seeking *meaningful* work. If I’m going to be away from her, it had better be for something that truly matters and is worth the sacrifice.

How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it?

I used my full 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave prior to returning to a part-time benefits-eligible status at 30 hours per week, as well as an additional 160 hours of protected leave offered by my employer that I was approved to use incrementally to reduce my weekly part-time workload from 30 hours down to 20 hours per week.

How easy was it to put a childcare arrangement together and did it work for your family?

We were on a lengthy waitlist for infant care at our preferred daycare and couldn’t get my daughter enrolled until she was more than six months old. We had to scramble to find a part-time nanny to support my incremental return to work and bridge the gap between my maternity leave and the availability of full-time care. This was fairly expensive at a time when we were already feeling the pinch from expensive infertility treatments, labor and delivery costs, and unpaid maternity leave.

Who was your biggest source of support in returning to work? What was your biggest pregnancy indulgence?

We have both supported coworkers with their pregnancies, miscarriages, and infertility treatments. I have counseled several coworkers on how to maximize their available leave and develop a flexible plan for returning to a normal work schedule – at the encouragement of my own supervisor.

Fill in the blanks: As a working parent, I never expected ____ would be so hard and ____ would be so much easier!

From day one as a parent, you’re always going to be behind the curve. There is no such thing as getting ahead or expecting things to calm down. You have to find a way to accept your powerlessness in some situations.