The first three months of motherhood are often the toughest. Sleep deprivation combined with postpartum hormones and transitioning to life with a newborn can take a toll. However, right around the fourth month something magical happens and your baby starts communicating! All the sleepless nights melt away with one smile from your wee one. Then life plays another trick and suddenly, just when you are getting the hang of things, maternity leave is up and it’s time to go back to work. Now you are required to juggle work and a family! Welcome to modern parenting.
Whether you have the standard three month FMLA leave or choose to stretch it out later into childhood, going back to work can feel overwhelming. New responsibilities and time constraints can lead to mental and emotional overload.
There is a bright spot in this cycle. Mothers are holding executive positions within companies and paving the way toward family-friendly corporate policy. Men now take an active role in parenting and this is impacting positive change in the work culture as well. More options are becoming available as companies take notice with how much happier and more productive employees are if they have ownership over how and when they work.
Employees have the ability to negotiate several work/life balance arrangements. Here are just a few of the options sometimes offered:
- ROWE, which stands for Results Only Work Environment, is one option where employees are paid only for results and not the number of hours logged.
- Compressed schedules allow for longer days and a shorter work week. Many companies are offering “Summer Fridays” with a shorter workday.
- A Job Share is an arrangement where two employees agree to take on a reduced schedule to share the load of one full time position.
- With a Flex Schedule, you can work around your child’s calendar by coming in early, late, or on weekends.
- Freelance is a great way to choose when and what projects you want to undertake.
- Some companies will offer reduced hours, or a Return-ship, as a way to reenter the workforce after an extended leave.
- Telecommuting allows for the freedom to work anywhere and cuts out commute time. You may feel the need to get out of the house in order to stay focused. A coffee shop is always an option and some have designated children’s areas, allowing parents the space to work. Shared work spaces are popping up in urban areas and many include daycare to keep children close.
Try negotiating with your employer by presenting the benefit this new schedule will bring to the company. Going back to work creates a different perspective on work life balance, priorities, and time management. Mothers have always known how to get it all done and with these policies in place, the glass ceiling is ready to be raised once and for all.