So, you’re buried in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and hanging on every word your doctor says. Maybe you’re all into Snickers bars (Halloween is coming up and they are on sale, after all!) or maybe you’re a kale smoothie kind of gal, but either way, the time has come…
No, not to have the baby yet, but to “come out” at your office.
The Big Reveal can be tricky. Most coworkers will be happy for you, but some of them might panic. After all, you know your life is going to change, but so is theirs – whether they are a peer or a manager.
Following are five professional ways to make the announcement and manage the next five (six?) months.
1. Scope out daycare
That’s right your FIRST step, even before you share the news around the office, is to have a childcare plan in place. High-quality daycares often have crazy waiting lists. Mary Poppins-esque nannies are hard to come by. Start early, or you might be in a bind.
And determining this major detail in advance shows you are all in for coming back. In fact, when my husband told me that one of his colleagues was pregnant, but “definitely planning to return,” I asked what her daycare plan was. When he said she didn’t have one yet, I said, “She’s not coming back.” Moms who are serious about returning to the workforce take this step first.
2. Tell your manager before your coffee break friends
You don’t want him or her hearing it “through the grapevine.” If you can, wait as long as possible – blame the tummy on all those Halloween Snickers bars – and ideally, until you have figured out your maternity leave and return as well as that childcare plan.
Nothing inspires confidence in a manager more than a worker who comes in and outlines the entire plan: from expected maternity leave to expected return to anticipated childcare plan. Even if you don’t have specifics completely finalized, indicate that you are well under way.
3. Present a plan to your manager
Let him/her recover from the shock and ask for a separate meeting where you will outline how you see your duties being handled. Of course, all of this is subject to unforeseen circumstances, but having that initial plan in place, and blessed by your manager, will make the next step so much easier.
4. Tell your team
You can do it in an email, but it’s probably better to do it at a meeting if you can. Feeling clever? When I announced my pregnancy to my agency I brought cupcakes in to the meeting, frosted in pink and blue. I said I had an announcement, then watched the realization spread over their faces.
You don’t have to go into specifics at this time, but it’s a great opportunity to mention that your boss knows, and that the two of you have been collaborating on a plan. Indicate as much as you know about timing, assure them that childcare is in the works, and remind them that you have several months to make this a smooth transition.
5. Take notes about everything
Most of what we do on a daily basis is second nature.
It’s the fifth of the month so I need to send invoices. It’s Thursday, so I need to double-check agenda items for the sales meeting tomorrow.
These are the nuggets of information that will be invaluable to whomever is replacing you, whether it’s one substitute or a team of people parceling out your duties.
Over the next few months, think about your tasks that are cyclical…for example, do you prepare a report every month end? Develop a schedule that lists those tasks and include templates.
Are you the go to person for important client meetings? Designate a replacement and let them know which bakery makes those amazing muffins.
Create a notebook with cheat sheets on everything from your daily/weekly/monthly schedule, to where certain files are located to a contact list of people you talk to on a regular basis.
The more your replacement knows, the smoother your leave – and your eventual return – will be!
There are a million wonderful things about babies and one of them is that they are not a surprise! You have nine good months to get your home and your work life in order and when your bundle of joy arrives, you will thank yourself for every minute of preparation you put in!
Next week: What to Expect “After”: Maternity/Paternity Leave for Dummies (which I guarantee baby brain will temporarily turn you into!)