Juggling Work & Pregnancy? 5 Tips for Surviving the Office
Why can’t maternity leave start before delivery? Good question. It only makes sense. But until that law gets passed, you’ve got to manage both.
The interrupted sleep, the commute, the difficulty of concentrating and remembering things, the general discomfort and constant comments about your size and when you will deliver may make work more difficult. With more sleeplessness and that inevitable waddle, TGIF will have a new meaning.
As your maternity leave approaches, there may also be added pressure from your boss, coworkers or yourself to get matters organized, train other staff, update files or take care of other things in preparation for your absence. You may also feel tempted to leave on a high note—close one last major deal, give one massive power presentation, snag one more new account, or create another office innovation—anything to leave one last impression of how valuable you are to the company. Sure, you can do these things, but don’t think of them as job guarantees. And if it’s stressing you out, you are doing harm to your pregnancy. At the end of the day, no matter what you do, you cannot control what happens in the office while you’re gone. Your best defense is a good offense.
Write a playbook. As early as possible put together a written job description, including a calendar with daily, weekly, and monthly duties. Include a step-by-step instruction guide, some helpful hints, along with client and contact information. Schedule a meeting with your boss to review all the preparations and plans for covering your duties. Offer work coverage solutions such as cross-training coworkers, junior employees or colleagues in another department. Think outside the box when suggesting work coverage solutions—interns, temps or recently retired employees who may still want to be active are all possibilities.
If you’re concerned that you will deliver early or be put on bed rest, write a condensed playbook focusing only on the most essential work that must be handled during your leave. Tell your boss how you’ll get these top priorities covered and skip over the rest.
The bigger and wobblier you get, the more your boss will be wondering whether you’ll ever return to work. Use this time to reassure him constantly and emphasize the personal importance of your job. Speak positively of the future, and make references to things you are looking forward to (make them up if you have to!) when you return.
Even if you’ve had a negative experience with your job and this pregnancy, try not to kick over a few wastepaper baskets or give your boss the bird on the way out. Leave on good terms. It can be self-defeating in the long run.
Do you have any workplace survival tips that worked during your pregnancy?