A Guide to Planning Your Maternity Leave Like a Boss

Planning Your Maternity Leave Can Make a Difference

Navigating pregnancy and being a new mother is a challenge. Then add work, and it gets more complex.

Let’s face it, you may experience a shift in your career in the time that you are pregnant and once you have a new baby.

Picture this.

You announce you are pregnant at work and it is a very trying time for you, needing to figure out so much (plus morning sickness – hello!)

Firstly, research has shown that maternal bias kicks in the moment a woman announces her pregnancy. Maternal wall bias is when a woman’s proficiency is questioned, just because she is a mother, announces she is pregnant, and when she announces her engagement!

As a result, she is less likely to get promoted or allocated stretch assignments simply because she is a mother (or got engaged). I am not making this stuff up.

Vocalising your needs and aspirations is one way to counter maternal bias.

Would it not be amazing if you can take charge of your maternity leave. Plan what you can, and make yourself, colleagues and your manager comfortable.

If you can do this, you will be a rock star!

[bctt tweet=”Plan and close the loop. Create a maternity leave plan that helps you, your manager and colleagues” username=”cherralle_”]

Related Post: Why You Should Feel Proud of Being a Working Mom

 Why would you go about this journey without planning your maternity leave transition?

maternity leave planning to come back to work

For this very reason, I created the Maternity Leave Transition Guide. I have spoken to many young mothers who simply felt that they were ‘sidelined’ and that their contribution was not fully recognised in this time.

The Maternity Leave Transition Guide; contains a hand over template, check list, an excel to pull your work year together for this period. It also covers personal topics, such as; nanny vs day care; expressing at work – what you need to know and more.

Don’t let your manager wonder what your performance contribution was. Write it down.

Related Post: 7 Things A Working Mother Wants to Tell Her Boss

Plan as much as you can

Plan your maternity leave, with as much detail as you possibly can.  Document which projects you are closing off and which projects you are handing over.

That will not only give you comfort, but also your boss and colleagues.

Communicate your career aspiration

The reality is that unless a pregnant woman communicates her career goals, it will be assumed. It will be assumed that you want to take the ‘mommy track’ or ‘slow down‘. This is okay, if it is what you want.

It is not okay if you want to still drive your career goals. Ensure that part of your discussions with your manager includes a talking point around your career aspirations.

[bctt tweet=”When going on maternity leave, don’t let others make assumptions about your career. Speak up.” username=”cherralle_”]

Consolidate your performance and contribution. Be a rock star performer before you head off on maternity.

Proactively manage your maternity through documenting what you are closing off, what you handing over and to whom.

The Maternity Leave Guide will include an excel template to enable this.

Take what you need from these documents so that it make sense for your environment.

Download the Maternity Leave Transition Guide now

Download the Excel Hand Over template now

Share this post with a friend who is expecting, or share with a manager (who needs to get with the programme).






How you can build your own unique work life balance: Plus free check list to help you figure it out

Work-life balance, having work and life on opposing sides with just the perfect amount of time spent on each side – is not achievable. This pursuit of perfection will never happen. Life is messy.  Instead, focus on building your unique lifestyle where you are okay with how you prioritize different elements of your life. That is a work-life  balance (or integration) to me.

Teaching others how you want to be treated is a key element of work-life balance. By setting boundaries, we teach others how we want to be treated.

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You cannot blame your boss or your company. It starts with you.

[bctt tweet=”You need to set boundaries and teach others around you how you want to be treated.” username=”cherralle_”]

Vintage filter, Green lotus leaf at garden.

Setting boundaries when establishing your work life integration

Setting boundaries are a cliché, but it is one of thee most important things in achieving your unique work-life blend. If the environment remains unreceptive to you, then you need to decide whether it is the right environment.

Answer these questions for yourself:

– Are you taking work calls after 18h00/19h00 during your personal/ family/ dinner time?

– Do you ‘avail’ yourself when you are meant to be on vacation

-Missing out on key family and school events?

– Do you happily take on assignments on a Friday due for Monday on a recurring basis? In this, you know that it means a hard slog on the weekend?

Now if all of these things above make you feel fulfilled and challenged then that is okay! However, if it bothers you, you should set boundaries.

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If the above scenarios are habits, it means you have a boundary issue.

Download the Free Work-Life Balance Checklist to understand which boundaries you need to set up.

family photography toddler natural hair


Set boundaries and teach others how you want to be treated

It takes a firm commitment to your life choices to stand up and tell someone very senior… ‘actually I cannot tend to a regular 18h00 session’. However, it must be done, and the change starts with you. Look for opportunities in your space where you can challenge the status quo. Keep it professional, flexible and always keep the deliverable in mind and work towards that.

[bctt tweet=”Be flexible in your boundaries, but be firm. Create your style of work life integration and own it. ” username=”cherralle_”]

It is important to be flexible in your boundaries, but you need to define your lifestyle. Then work towards that.

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The trade offs

Many trade-offs happen as you start to take ownership of your situation. You might rub some people up the wrong way, but you have to start somewhere. Unfortunately, a culture permeates through many organisations that if you are not ‘always on,’ you are simply not working hard enough.

If working mothers don’t challenge the culture of ‘always working’ who will? I think that working mothers (and fathers in fact) are the ones who can have the biggest impact on company culture. The price that working parents will need to pay to sustain the culture of ‘always working’ is too high. And that will serve as motivation to challenge the status quo.

So, pick one thing in your life that you will change today to improve your work-life balance. Whether it’s leaving on time, not logging on on a Sunday, or eating lunch away from your desk. Just that one thing. Go. Do. It.

Download this Work-Life Balance Checklist to understand which boundaries you need to set up.

Tell me in the comments, what is your tip for work life integration?

Ace Your To Do Lists With These 7 Tips (Plus Free Weekly Planner)

I am one of those people, who get a little bit of a kick out of it when I scratch things off my to-do list. Lately, my to do list has exploded. I find myself often getting distracted and overwhelmed. With work, home, studies, and the blog it has create the need for me to carefully plan my time.

To not get lost in everything I need to do, I have set a few routines for myself to help me focus and achieve my goals. Without focus, I am much slower and sluggish when I need to do anything. Some of which are new and some of which are old habits. I have also started using a weekly planner! I am hoping these 7 tips  plus the weekly planner can download can help you with your to do lists, as it has for me.

7 Ways To Ace Your To Do Lists (Through Bringing Focus)

woman working on laptop
Listen to calming music

You can find any music that calms you, and that makes you focus and brings you into that space where your magic happens.

For me, I listen to classical music (Mozart for Exam Study on iTunes). It drowns out the noise and allows me to focus. In fact, I can read, study or write while listening to this music on my headphones.

Related Post: You worked so hard this week! 5 Easy ways to Treat Yourself Over the Weekend

Put your phone away

Your phone can be a big distraction, with instant messaging, and social media notifications, it is hard to switch off. When you sit down with something, put your phone away and focus. When I am listening to music on my phone, I put my phone on airplane mode so that notifications do not come through.

Take little breaks

Try to work in 20-minute bursts, and then take a 5-minute break. Or in 40-minute bursts then you take a 10-minute break. In this way, you are getting time to refresh your mind and come back energised. Make that cup of coffee, check your messages, whatever you need to do in that time.
I do this at home and work. I get up, make coffee. At work, I get a cup of coffee and engage with colleagues then back at it.

Related Post: 13 Career Tips for Your Twenties That Can Boost Your Career

Cut out the noise and prioritise

Focus on the key activities that you need to do. If other tasks come up as you are working, ask yourself how that contributes to your well being and your goals? If it does not, it needs to go.

Do not multitask, tackle one thing at a time

Tackle one thing at a time. We have been taught that women like multitasking, that might be true. However, if you sit down, focus and tackle one thing and get it done, you will achieve more.

For me, I get a lot more done when I sit down and tackle one task at a time.

[bctt tweet=”Do not multi task. Rather focus on one thing at a time, it will increase your productivity” username=”cherralle_”]

Write the tasks down and plan (download the weekly planner)

I am avid checklist maker! Recently I have started using a weekly planner. For each week in the month, I map out at a high level what I need to do for that week. I also jot down which days I will focus on what tasks at a high level. It gets crazy over here, with work projects, personal priorities, studies, family!!

Through writing down and tracking, I ensure that all aspects are covered from my work, home, and personal hobbies. Now this is not perfect, but on the whole it works for me. I picked it up from one of my beloved stationery stores, but I created an online version for you to use.

You can download a weekly planner for free over here!

[bctt tweet=”A weekly planner is a great way to stay on top of your high level goals for the week. ” username=”cherralle_”]

The only way to find more time is to give up something

Oh, and where can you find the time for personal goals?  To get more time, you need to give up something.

I have reduced the time I spend watching TV drastically. I wake up most mornings between 4:00 – 5:00 am  (the children wake up around 6:00). Going to bed earlier in the evening has helped me get up at this time.

I have also found that I am more focused that time in the morning. Much more focused then I would be if I had to do the same piece of work late at night. Different approaches work for different people. I am not advocating waking up at 4 am!

I find that getting a good night’s rest allows me with sufficient energy to start my day early and sustain my energy throughout the day.

Over to you, do you have any things you to that brings you focus?

Don’t forget to download the FREE weekly planner, to help you structure your week and month.




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