Parental Leave, Flex Time, Full time: Working As A New Mom

Ease the transition from mom to working mom.

Times have changed since the middle of the 20th century, and not every woman has the desire or capability to remain a stay-at-home mom. There are pros and cons to each option, and only you can make the best decision for yourself and your family. Unfortunately, working moms face particular struggles: workplace discrimination, scheduling conflicts and plain old separation anxiety. Here’s how to return to work after baby with minimal friction:

Heading to the office after parental leave

The easiest way to handle the transition to working mom is to prepare in advance. Get your baby on a regular schedule, aiming for something similar to how days will go when you’re back at work. Cover as many logistics as possible, and even give yourself a practice run to make sure you’ve scheduled enough time for each task. You might find two hours to get yourself ready for work and your baby prepped for daycare is a lot less time than you thought.

Also, if you plan to continue nursing, Parents Magazine suggested freezing your milk several weeks ahead of your return date so you have an ample supply on hand. Find out if your employer has a private area where you can pump, but don’t be upset if you can’t breastfeed until you get home. Your body will adjust after a little while.

An Asian toddler grabbing a diaper.Make sure you have time to get you and your infant ready in the morning.

Alternative work options

Just as attitudes toward working women have shifted, so too have ideas about the standard workday. Many offices now provide alternative working options like flextime and work-from-home status. These are great options for moms prioritizing children and jobs.

Flextime frees you from the standard 9 to 5, letting you come in and leave when you want to, albeit with some restrictions. Many businesses that provide flextime open a set window of hours for you to work – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., for example – but you only have to work eight hours within that time frame. Others give you a four-day workweek as long as you can complete a standard 40 hours. Both options allow you to adjust your schedule to spend time with your baby as needed.

Working from home, meanwhile, is exactly what it sounds like. This situation is ideal for working moms who want to stay close to their baby or can’t afford childcare.

Alternative work options are more prevalent than they might seem. According to research from the Society from Human Resource Management, 62 percent of businesses let employees telecommute to work in some way, while 57 percent offer flextime. Still, you may work for a business that doesn’t provide these options, meaning you’ll have to negotiate for them.

A working mom at a table with her baby on her lap.Working from home keeps you productive while letting you tend to your baby.

How to negotiate with your boss

Unfortunately, discrimination against women is still prevalent in the workplace. This fact is particularly true of working moms, who often get the short end of the stick when it comes to anything business. All of this is to say that appealing to your boss’s sense of kindness or talking about how working from home benefits you, sadly, isn’t your strongest bet.

No, the best way to negotiate for alternative work options is to show your boss how flextime or working from home benefits the company as a whole. Luckily, you’ve got reputable studies and statistics to back you up. An article in the Harvard Business Review detailed a experiment MIT where a remote work program increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and boosted trust. Additionally, flexible options help businesses reduce employee churn. Gallup discovered 51 percent of workers said they would change employers for a place that was more accommodating.

Going back to work after spending weeks with your infant will be tough, but don’t let that fact get you down. Prepare ahead of time, fight for an adaptable schedule and, above all, cherish the moments you get to spend with your little one.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.