Oh well, my beloved moms and "moms to be" readers, this one is for you. I'm sorry, gentlemen.
For many women, maternity leave is the best time of their lives as you're spending your whole time pampering, caring, loving, snuggling your little human. And the feelings that come with these can hardly be put into words. But let's not dig into too many details, we'll become too emotional, shall we?
But putting your professional life on hold, even just for a short time, can cause you huge anxiety. And it's normal to be that way, as you've spent years in crafting your career, prioritizing, creating your professional profile, looking for the best professional opportunities to grow when you're suddenly facing a big change in your life and you'll have to put all these on pause.
It's like a major turn out that you have to make in your well-known duties, as with your newborn child, a newborn YOU says "hello world".
During the first two trimesters of pregnancy you usually don't think quite a lot about the changes you're going to face, but more about how to effectively do your job. And as you're approaching the due date, you might start documenting your responsibilities, make a hand over to the one taking your responsibilities, help with setting up some objectives.
So, you've made it through 9 months of pregnancy, you gave birth, sleepless nights and hazy days just become your new routine. Even it looks like you don't have too many things to do (some would think that your arms and some milk might be enough for the baby) it takes a bit of time until you get used to this "new normal".
And once you've got used to it, your mind starts wandering to work. You might feel that caring for your little human it's not enough for your thinking brain. It might be for the feeling brain, but the thinking brain is looking for new challenges. At least that was my case. (If you're not feeling that way, it is perfectly fine, it's nothing wrong with you!).
But how to remain relevant during maternity leave?
Here are my tips.
Socialize. Stay connected to people.
Once you left the office, don't leave your workmates too. I encourage you to meet them personally, or if not possible (due to the pandemic's social distancing) you can join their after-hours calls, online beers on Fridays, you name it, all kinds of social gatherings that your company has put in place during the pandemic time. If this is not possible, have quick chats with your work-mates, give them a call once in a while, ask about their health, their plans, their job.
This kind of activity helps you a lot as gives you the feeling that you're still part of the team.
Make use of all your friends that are working in the same industry as you do, getting news from them on what's new in the industry or how things are evolving.
During maternity leave, time is no longer your friend. You have to say thanks if you find time for a shower, but more than ever, your mind needs to wander, your brain needs some new stuff to digest, other than diapers and milk. Can be a good moment for you to start practicing or learning something you just put on hold for many years - some new management skills, drawing illustrations, dig into some new ways of writing test cases, you name it.
Books, e-books, blog posts, newsletters, articles, Twitter posts, the options are endless.
You can also become a friend with podcasts. There are plenty of podcasts covering various topics and areas where you can learn a lot of stuff.
As a new mom, I'm not encouraging you to spend too much time on social media, especially scrolling for babies' pictures and being envious about how one of your ex-colleague got her body shape back after giving birth.
But looking more on social platforms like LinkedIn, figuring out which are the trends in your industry, follow relevant people, content creators, bloggers.
Having your mind being decluttered by all the job's responsibilities, but being driven by the will of doing something for yourself, you can use your little time that you have working and growing a passion project. That passion project might teach you new skills, get you outside of your comfort zone, now is the perfect time to invest in your passion.
If you are interested in how to stay relevant in your career during maternity leave, that's perfectly fine. But that's not making you less of a mom.
If you're not interested in how to stay relevant in your career during maternity leave, that's perfectly fine too. But that's not necessarily making you a better mom.