What the Circle In team wishes they'd known before going on parental leave

What the Circle In team wish they’d known before parental leave

Taking a break from your work and career during parental leave can spark conflicting emotions. For many, those last few months before setting off are some of the most exciting, as you prepare for the arrival of your child. But they can also be some of the most emotionally challenging, especially if your career is taking off. We’ve experienced all the emotions! We spoke to a few parents to get their insight into what they’d do differently, and what they wish they’d known about.

Looking back, there are so many things we’d do differently. Sure, you learn as you go, but we’re really talking about that transition to a new parent — when you’re facing the most extraordinary life-changing event and ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.

Be realistic about your last day of work

OK, so most people want to work as close as they can to their child’s arrival so they have more time on the other side, but be realistic about when you finish up at work. If you’re pregnant, working to 38 weeks sounds like a good idea, and whilst you might feel fine, the travel and last few weeks will really take it out of you. Consider discussing alternatives with your organization, such as work from home options late in your pregnancy, or finish a little early to simply enjoy a few weeks to yourself. 

Don’t leave everything until the last week

Everyone does it, including us! We cannot stress it enough to start preparing your work wrap up early. You’ll feel so much more relaxed knowing your handover, performance review, out-of-office message, etc. have all been planned or carried out. Ensure that important tasks are ticked off well before you go on parental leave so you can enjoy your final weeks at work, but also to be prepared for events not going to plan!

Sort out your home administration

Parental leave is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your child, but the last thing you’ll want to do with a newborn or new child is your home admin. Now is the perfect time to sort your finances and have a discussion with your partner to ensure you’re both comfortable with the amount of leave you’re taking. Take the time to look into government benefits to see what’s available to you and your family and pre-complete as much information as you can.

If you have a home loan

Consider changing to ‘interest only’ during your parental leave to assist with cash flow. Many financial institutions offer this during parental leave and it can assist greatly. Obviously, talk to your financial advisor to ensure such changes align with your personal financial position.

Learn about perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA)

PNDA is real and most people think it won’t happen to them. Read about it, speak to friends, and know what to look out for. Also, make sure your partner or close friends can recognize the signs and be there to support you, and you for your partner. Visit the Gidget Foundation to learn more.

Set up your calendar invites

Honestly ‘baby brain’ continues for some time, so get organized and put in place calendar invites to remind you of appointments, planned events, catch-ups with your team, sponsors, mentors, etc. Things may change, but having dates in place forces you to keep in touch, even if it means you have to reschedule. It might also give you something to look forward to as you come out of the ‘baby haze’.

Unsubscribe and subscribe

Spend time unsubscribing from the newsletters and mail you receive at your work address. Re-set them up to your home email or address. You will be thankful for receiving a few work-related newsletters here and there to keep your brain active.

Work out if you feel guilty or not

It’s OK to feel guilty or equally not guilty about finishing up at work. Some people feel a great sense of relief, whilst others feel worried about losing their identity and daily work structure. Whatever the feeling, embrace it knowing you have an amazing adventure ahead of you.

Stock the freezer

Once your baby arrives, cooking will be the last thing on your mind. Even ordering takeaway can feel too hard. If you have some spare time, stockpile your freezer with simple, nutritious meals. Think soup, quiche, lasagna, or other favorites. Slice and freeze so you can pull out when visitors pop by to meet your new arrival.

Those few weeks before the baby arrives are precious

Enjoy them. Don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself and write a list of all the things you want to do. Movies, massage, shopping, beautician, a round of golf, or just watch Netflix all day in your pajamas. Whatever it is, enjoy it.

If only we had this list the first time around.

Written by the Circle In team.

Email us to share your tips hello@circlein.com.

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