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What to Expect When You’re Expecting…to Return to Work

Getting back into the flow of work after parental leave can be challenging. At Hiro, we’ve made it a priority for our parents to feel supported during this transition and having just gone through it myself, I thought I’d share my experience and shed some light on what you can expect. I initially wrote this article for new Hiro parents (we had four Hiro babies born in the last 12 months!), but decided it might be helpful for folks out in the world, too. 

Deep dive
December 8, 2023
Executive Operations Manager
A guide from one parent to another

I recently had a baby, and I am grateful to work at a company that offers a parental leave policy that let me acclimate to this major life change. Family is important! After a generous 16 weeks of parental leave though, it was time to go back to work. To my surprise, reentering my job was harder than I thought and there were challenges I wasn’t expecting.

If you’re an expecting parent, I won’t offer any parental advice—there’s plenty of resources already out there —but I do want to talk about a less discussed topic: what you can expect on the other side of parental leave when you come back to work.

Here are a few things I learned from my own return from parental leave:

Your Journey Is Unique

Every person experiences parenthood & returning to work differently. What I describe in this article is a small sample size of one (with a sprinkle of advice from a few other Hiro parents)! You may feel some or all of the emotions I felt, or none of them. It’s all normal. The goal of the company you work for should be to make sure you feel supported and as far from isolated as possible.

Negative Emotions Will Pass

Things change when you have a kid, and not just at home: things will be different when you get back to work. Startups move fast—people pick up the slack when folks are out. This is a good thing, but it means you can feel a bit left out when you are returning from a long absence. Chances are folks have just gotten in a new rhythm while you were away, and you just need to find your place again. Give yourself the space to adapt, and know that every negative emotion you have will pass.

Acknowledge Your New Reality

Just because you’re back to work doesn’t mean your house is in order. You still have an infant at home. It’s hard! Being back at work doesn’t mean your baby is sleep trained, or isn’t battling sickness, or any number of things that pull at your attention and take up your time. You might not even have a full-proof childcare plan. Companies know this. Your coworkers know this. If you work for an empathetic company, know that your team is there for you (like Hiro was, and is, there for me).

Hold Off on Major Life Decisions

Perhaps the best piece of advice I ever received: do not make any major decisions in the first 6 months after having a baby. Your life is not normal. You will have tremendous ups and downs emotionally. Give yourself and your partner grace and understanding to adjust to your new daily rhythms before making any additional big changes.

Personally, I struggled with this. Nothing in my life felt stable, and I was so close, so many times, to upending our lives. “We need more space! We need to spend less money! But also let’s drain our savings for a night nurse because I need sleep!” Feel the feelings. Take a beat. And just keep on trucking. It’ll get better. 

A Closer Look at Reentry

As for the first few months of work, here’s what that will probably look like:


I hope sharing my experience can help inspire you and show you that you’re not alone as you go through parenthood in the workplace. Reentry is tough, but you’re a parent now: you’ve done harder things. You’ve got this!

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