My guest blogger today is Loreen Chant, President of Johnson & Wales University's North Miami Campus. Chant took some steps during her maternity leave to enjoy bonding time with her new daughter while managing her responsibilities on important university projects and initiatives in her absence. She shares how she made the transition back and set an example for other female administrators.
As a sleep deprived maternity leaver who was tracking the happenings on campus on my home computer (e-mails, articles, announcements, etc.) and via phone, I was struck by the pace with which we work every day. As my countdown to March 1 progressed, I wondered how quickly I could get back up and function again at that speed and how I would manage the transition. Was I ready? And how would I manage this the third time around with far more responsibilities?
The good thing is - because I genuinely enjoy what I do - it was a pleasure being back on campus. In fact being at work, in many ways, it has been much easier than being at home – no one has colic here. Multitasking doesn’t involve a conference call with a crying baby in my arms as I hit the mute button and hope no one asks me a direct question. Nor does work require that I sit in my car in my driveway for an hour to participate in an interview to avoid distractions – that is if you don’t think a 9-year-old staring at you from outside the car is a distraction.
At times the transition has been difficult, I won’t lie. Getting three kids ready for the day is a major accomplishment and could be considered a full-time job. And some evenings, I have to give myself a pep talk on my commute home to make sure I am up for the grand finale: homework for the older kids, bath, bottle and bonding for the baby, family dinner, bed time for everyone, preparation for the next day.
So, given the challenges, complexities and the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, how can you make it all work? The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to use your resources. And, I’m not talking about money - although $20 to a high school girl/mother’s helper is the best 20 bucks I’ve spent in years! I’m talking about my resources: my husband, colleagues, my friends, my sisters, my older children, and my friends’ daughters – the ones who are too young for a social life, but old enough to be an extra pair of hands. Hire a bi-weekly cleaning lady – just don’t have visitors the first and third weeks of the month, not pretty. Use on-line shopping. I haven’t stepped into a mall since the baby was born but have you been to Zappos.com? Auto bill pay whenever you can, and utilize any automated assistance you can for the task at hand.
These resources make a world of difference. You delegate at work. Delegate at home.
Temporarily I have had to adjust my standards, but so far so good. Just don’t lose your perspective. If you are insanely busy when you return from maternity leave, remind yourself you are only busy because you are managing your blessings. And if that doesn’t help, I strongly recommend a glass of red wine.