Five years ago, if someone had told me I would be preparing my life for the arrival of a baby, I would have laughed, probably even howled over the prospect of having a child. But here I am, expecting my first child in February.
Even if you’re relatively early in your career as a journalist, chances are you could be in my maternity shoes five years down the road. Whether you’re the one carrying the baby or whether you’re the expectant dad, you’ll need to give some thought to your career and the impending changes.
Be up front with your boss
As soon as you feel comfortable sharing the joyous news, let your boss know. Journalism is a demanding and fast-paced profession, so it can be tough to juggle these lifestyle changes with your career. Do your very best to keep up with your schedule, but remember, women may need to slow down a little; and men, you might need to be available to take your partner to a doctor’s appointment.
Keep your supervisor informed and think creatively about how you can maintain your workload. Women, think about taking an actual lunch break, not just eating at your desk, so you’ll have more energy in the afternoon. Men, try coming into the office a little early in case your partner needs you home in the evening to help with dinner or household chores.
One of the benefits of taking maternity leave is you have nine months to prepare for it. Think about assignments you can do in advance. You don’t want to create an undue burden for your co-workers and supervisors, but you also need to the take the appropriate time for you and your family. By giving your time off some forethought and being organized in your approach, the impact of your leave should be minimal.
Think outside the box
The addition of an infant to your life could make it tough to keep the demanding schedule of a journalist. If your position is somewhat flexible, consider options that will allow you to maintain your work life while caring for your family. You may be able to work from home or reduce your hours to part-time.
Again, spend some time talking with your supervisor about how you can balance your work with your new family responsibilities. Many bosses have been in this exact position, making them more sympathetic to your situation. Particularly if they see you are still committed to your work and if you’ve been a hard-working employee, they should be more likely to work with you.
Finally, be sure to take some time to enjoy this new stage of your life. You may have spent a decade nurturing your career, and you don’t have to give that up. But now you get a chance to nurture something new.
Holly Fisher is the special projects editor for Setcom Media, publisher of the Charleston Regional Business Journal and SCBIZ magazine. Based in Mount Pleasant, S.C., she is also SPJ’s Region 3 director.