Coming back to work after having a baby can feel like returning to a world that has stayed the same while yours has changed massively. While the disruption is real, parents ultimately develop the character traits and skills that make outstanding leaders.
As a lawyer, mom, author, and entrepreneur, Lori Mihalich-Levin, Esq. created Mindful Return to better support new parents as they return to work.
Get more from Lori herself:
The Spark Behind Mindful Return
“The spark was sheer desperation. I returned to work full time after my first son was born, and I was doing health care policy work as a lawyer. I found it to be a challenge, and I looked around for resources that could help me with that personal and professional identity transition to working parenthood, and I came up pretty empty handed. I mean, I found snarky articles about how I shouldn't put pictures of my kids on my desk or I might leak on my shirt if I were breastfeeding, but I didn't find high quality resources. I found plenty of baby-focused stuff like how to puree baby food and how to pump and all that, and we need the baby stuff, but we also need the grownup support. Then I had baby number two, two years later, and I say often that I sort of went off the rails at that point. I probably had undiagnosed postpartum anxiety. I did not know how I was going to keep all of the balls in the air and keep all of this going, and at the time I wound up taking an online course for moms specifically.”
“I told my husband, we really need a program like this that connects moms to each other, but for the return to work specifically, so that they can have high-quality educational resources. They can have connections to other people going through the exact same thing as they are. And my dear husband said, what are you going to do about this and sort of dared me to start doing something about it. So I sat, and my hand shook, and I started blogging.”
Parenthood Is a Catalyst for Leadership Development
“Parenthood provides us with amazing leadership skills. It grows things in us around empathy and prioritization which are all directly translatable to our jobs, and so I don't think employers keep in mind enough the idea that parenthood is a perfect training ground for leadership, that the neuroscience actually shows that the one year following the birth of our child is the most neuroplastic one's brain will ever be in adulthood. These are things that someone can gain through parenthood that we should be putting more emphasis on and not just talking about all the things that one can't do when they become a parent. There are things an employer might not know about parenthood, they might not see someone floundering, they might not feel the guilt that they're going through when they leave at five thirty to go pick up their kid even though they had previously been able to stay longer.”
The Mindful Return Solution
“We are essentially a four-week online cohort based group program. There's one for new moms, there's one for new dads, and then we have other courses for parents of special needs children, and we have chapters in different parts of the globe, like the UK and South Africa. Our standard new mom and new dad program is a four week long online course where the new mom or new dad doesn't have to be anywhere at a given time of day or night. We also help with different time zones for participation and people join from all over the place, either because their employer offered it to them as a benefit, or because their friend told them about it and they signed up online. Essentially what happens is for each weekday over the course of a four-week period, the person gets access to one new lesson in a private course portal. They log into the portal, they read the lesson, and then there's a discussion board that follows each lesson where everybody's writing back and forth to each other. You might have a mom saying it's 2:00 a.m., I'm up nursing, and I'm reading this lesson and here's what I'm thinking about it.”
“The course is broken into four weeks and four themes. The first week is all about a mindful mindset for going back to work after parental leave. The second week is all about the logistics of returning; this is everything from how to transition your child into childcare and feel okay about that to figuring out what to do when your kid is sick and their child care provider is on vacation. The third week of the course is focused on leadership, really encouraging people to view their leave and return as a leadership opportunity. Then the fourth week is all about building and staying in community, mostly so you don't isolate yourself crying on the kitchen floor like I did for way too long in early parenthood.”
Listen to the full discussion via the podcast player below or by clicking this link. If you'd like to connect with Lori Mihalich-Levin, you can reach her via LinkedIn or learn more about Mindful Return at mindfulreturn.com.