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Going Back to Work After Baby: Tips For Your Transition

February 29, 2016
Female staffer with baby and two young sons, working on sofa with laptop

Welcoming a new child is an exciting but busy time. For new parents, returning to work after maternity/paternity leave ends can be a challenging transition filled with excitement, ambivalence and stress. The WorkLife Office offers educational and financial programs, services and resources to help parents when preparing for the transition back to work.  

“Our office has the responsibility and privilege to assist people in finding fulfillment and success in their working lives. We help people navigate the critical intersections where their life and work meet. One of those intersections that can be particularly challenging is the transition back to work after parental leave ends,” said Caitlin Azhderian, WorkLife Portfolio Manager.

“As a new parent, you don’t know what you don’t know. Just when you’re getting used to being home with your baby, you realize it’s time to go back to work, which can be overwhelming.”  This is all too familiar for Caitlin, who returned from her own maternity leave last March.

Although this transition can be trying, a little planning goes a long way. Here are some tips for new parents to consider when preparing to come back to work after a maternity or paternity leave:

  • Choosing child care: Selecting the right child care option takes a lot of thought and consideration. We suggest beginning your search early, before you need care and well before you plan to return to work. Explore the right care options for your family. Consider what you want to look for when selecting a provider and develop a budget based on your child care needs. Learn more about on-site and off-site child care options by viewing the Children & Family Overview video.
  • Have a child care “plan B”: Even the best planned child care arrangements can be interrupted from time to time. If your child care center is closed or your nanny calls in sick, the Back-Up Care Advantage program helps benefits-eligible faculty and staff find high quality center-based and in-home care from credentialed agencies and trained caregivers. 
  • Nursing at work: If you’re planning to continue nursing, pack your pumping bag and plan your pumping routine before you return to work. Talk to your supervisor or Human Resources Manager (HRM) to determine a schedule that works for both of you and meets your lactation space needs. Any space that is private and not located in a bathroom can be considered as a lactation space. This could include a conference room, unoccupied office (with permission) or hanging temporary blinds or curtains to create a private space. To find a private location to pump or nurse, use the Stanford lactation spaces identified on the Campus Map or consult with your Human Resources Manager
  • Carve out time to connect with other parents: Asking for support is okay. Talk to your partner, friends and other parents. Consider starting a working parents group, join a parent email list, or take a parent-focused class through HIP such as Mindful Moms, or sign up for a parent-focused sleep workshop through BeWell. Find ways to meet and build relationships with other parents.
  • Take advantage of financial resources: Having a child is joyous, but can be financially demanding. You may qualify for financial assistance to help offset some of costs associated with child care and adoption. Visit WorkLife’s Financial Assistance page to learn more and apply.
  • Practice self-compassion: It’s normal to miss your baby, it’s normal to feel tired, and it’s okay to give yourself a break! Identify what matters to you as a working parent. What are your top priorities? At work, and at home with your family? For yourself, and for your own career? Practicing self-compassion and intentional goal setting can help you identify and maximize your work-life fit.
  • Attend a BABBLE workshop: To help new parents successfully transition back to work after leave, the WorkLife Office is launching a pilot program this month, called BABBLE: Back After Baby Bonding Leave Ends. The program is designed to educate new parents on the many resources at Stanford that help them manage their work and family needs and provide actionable tips to ease this life transition. The program also features insights into early childhood development, self-care resources, and the opportunity to connect with other Stanford parents returning from leave. Registration for BABBLE is available in STARS.

More Information

For more information about all WorkLife programs and services, visit the WorkLife site within the Benefits & Rewards section of Cardinal at Work.

If you have questions or feedback about WorkLife programs and services, please submit a web form and we will contact you soon!


Benefits & Rewards, WorkLife