Confirm Your Plans in Writing
Once you and your boss have agreed to the terms of your leave, it's wise to follow up by providing her with a summary of the details. Whether you send them to her via e-mail or give them to her in a typed letter, just remember to keep a copy for yourself. Start with "As we've discussed...?" Unless it's a contract signed by both parties, it's not legally binding -- but if there's any confusion down the road, it can help to have written proof of what your understanding was originally.
Most first-time moms are surprised by how much work is involved in taking care of a baby. Don't expect it to feel like a vacation or promise to provide frequent support to your coworkers. "Many women make themselves too available to their employers during this time," says Dr. Greenfield. "They say, 'Oh, call me if there's a problem,' or 'I'll take care of that.'" In order to stay in the loop -- without feeling overwhelmed -- you might consider offering to respond to queries by e-mail once a day or every other day. But try not to commit to more until you have a sense of how parenting feels for you, because nothing's more important than getting comfortable in your new-mom role -- and bonding with your little one.
Originally published in the August 2010 issue of Parents magazine.
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