This episode is a recording of a Fishbowl Live event I did with Kimberly Didrickson from learningmotherhood.co and Ashley Redeckenwald from workingmomnotes.com about returning to the workplace. We tackled this topic from both a COVID return to office and maternity leave returns. I wish this was an episode with a lot of tips and tricks and ways to do this easily, but the truth is transitions are hard. Sometimes you just need to get through them however you can and with a lot of grace. What this episode provides is a whole lot of validation that returning to the workplace is hard! You are not alone if you are struggling with this right now.
Ashley polled her community of over 17,000 working women and mothers; 80% of them do not want to return to the office. The number one reason being a lack of childcare. Ashley summed it by saying:
Working mothers are underwater. Working mothers have been underwater for so long beyond the pandemic. COVID gave us another good shove under and we are drowning. Asking more of us (by returning to the office) is really pushing a lot of working moms over the edge.
We talk a lot about advocating for ourselves in the workplace. Kimberly explains that she sees a lot more success in flexible work arrangements or advocacy requests when they are presented as a benefit to the company. Use the approach of “what’s in it for me” and that “me” being your company. Kimberly also suggests making the initial proposal on a trial period basis. While Kimberly has seen success with her clients in being vulnerable and advocating for themselves, Ashley has seen some women be extremely vulnerable and it’s met with resistance. In that case she suggests that you do what you can to get by but start looking for another company that aligns more to your personal mission.
Ashley and Kimberly each have three children, giving them plenty of experiencing transitioning back to the office post-maternity leave. Here are their tips:
How to prepare for return from maternity leave:
- Expect it to be hard!
- Transition to childcare before your first day back to work.
- Involve your partner in all the conversations and decisions a head of your return.
- Do your homework. Understand your legal rights and HR policies.
- Build your village before your baby arrives.
Kimberly gave the best piece of advice about the expectations of returning to the office post-leave:
You can’t do it all. We absolutely need support. And it’s OK to ask for it. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to advocate for yourself at work. And it’s OK to rest and advocate for yourself in the home too.
This conversation was so validating to me. Everything Ashley and Kimberly shared I related to. Transitions are hard but you are not alone in them.
Mentioned in the Episode:
Fishbowl App: fishbowlapp.com
Follow Kimberly at: learningmotherhood.co
Follow Ashley at: workingmomnotes.com
Listen to their podcast: Motherhood and Career Collide
More About the Guests, Kimberly Didrikson and Ashley Reckdenwald:
Kimberly is the Founder and CEO of Learning Motherhood providing community, education and resources designed to empower parents to thrive at home and in the workplace as they grow their family.D
Ashley is a Physician Assistant and Founder/CEO of Working Mom Notes. Her membership-based platform provides supportive services to working moms to help unlock potential and rediscover our best selves.
Together, Ashley and Kimberly host Motherhood and Career Collide Podcast.