What You Need to Know About Working from Home After Maternity Leave

It can be tough returning to work after having a baby.  As a new parent, you may have been out of work for some time, may not be getting enough sleep, and have a new person to care for.  Luckily, if you are working from home after maternity leave, it can help ease the transition. 

Work from home does have many benefits, but the best benefit as a new mom is that you can be more available to your family. As a mom that returned from maternity leave recently and is working from home, I have found that I have much more time to spend with my baby than I would have had if I went into the office. I can also maximize the time I do have working from home. For example, it can be really hard to get anything done with a newborn around the house.  Thankfully, because I am at home, I can do things like throw in a load of laundry when I have a break or put dinner in the crockpot during my lunch break. Working from home has been a lifesaver for me. 

watching baby while working

How Can I Work from Home After Maternity Leave?

If you currently work remotely, then you are set.  However, it is possible to switch jobs after having a baby to try to find a more remote-friendly option.  That is the path I took after having my first baby.  

However, if that is not something that you want to consider, you can try to convince your boss to let you work remotely either temporarily or on a part-time basis moving forward. This can be especially promising if your employer follows a more hybrid approach where you work some days in the office and some at home. 

Your boss may not be willing to let you telecommute based on business needs, but there are some tips that you can use when bringing up your proposal.  When you approach your boss, you need to make sure that you have a well-thought-out plan for where you will work and what that will entail. 

Not all employers will be willing to let you work from home with a newborn. If they agree, they may want to know that you have childcare already arranged.  If you don’t already work from home sometimes, your boss may want to discuss what technology you have available to you and how you will set up your workstation. Your boss may also worry that you will not be as productive at home, so it is important that you can demonstrate to them how you maintain productivity.  Ultimately, if they do grant your request, you need to make sure that you follow through and be as productive as you can.

pregnant woman at work

Do I Need Maternity Leave If I Work from Home?

If you work from home, you should consider taking as much maternity leave as you can.

In the United States, through the Family Medical Leave Act women are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  Unfortunately, most women do not get fully paid for leave. Thus, if your family needs the money, it can be tempting to work despite having the potential to take maternity leave.  If you work from home, it can be even more tempting to not take leave because you could try to take care of the baby while working hypothetically. 

However, if you can, we would recommend taking maternity leave while working from home. Adjusting to a new baby in the house is a lot of work.  You are usually sleep-deprived and have more on your plate than you think you can handle just adjusting to your new little one. As a mother, you are often physically recovering as well which can be rough. If you can help it, try not to add the burden of work on top of a new baby as well even if you think you can handle it while working from home.

working with baby on lap

Tips For Returning to Work After Baby

  • Keep Reasonable Expectations-It is likely that you will not be able to immediately return to your prior workload and productivity. You need to keep your expectations in check.  If possible, discuss with your manager what their expectations of you are and how you can meet them. 
  • Ease Into It-If your boss allows you, try to return gradually. Some employers understand that it is a hard transition and may be willing to work with you.  Some may even agree to a temporarily part-time transition to allow you to gradually adjust back to your work life. If this simply isn’t practical for you, try to return mid-week so you are only working a few days in a row at first.
  • Have a Plan for Logistics-Before you get back to work, try to have your childcare logistics planned out. When will you drop off or pick up your baby?   Where will they go while you are working?  Who will help you?  Before you make your return, you should have this planned out.
  • Optimize Your Home Office-If you are breastfeeding and need to pump, it can be helpful to keep your pump accessible. It may be helpful to keep a basket with your pump in your office so you can use it and put it away quickly as needed.  If you do choose to keep your baby at home with you, try to set up your office so that you and your baby will be comfortable.  Have on hand the supplies you need to care for and entertain your baby in your office.  It may also be helpful to have a swing or bouncer seat handy to put your baby in if you need some hands-free time.
  • Write Down Your Passwords-Before you go on leave, try to write down your passwords or save them using a password manager. Even if you think you will remember them, taking a break from work and the stress of a new baby can change things.  If you have your passwords ready to go, it can make things a bit smoother for you when you return.

The Bottom Line

Adjusting to going back to work after having a baby is tough.  However, working from home after maternity leave does make things slightly easier.  If you don’t work from home permanently, try to ask your boss for some remote days to transition.  With a bit of planning, the transition back to work should go well for you and your family.