I Don’t Know How She Does It is a mostly terrible 2011 rom com starring Sarah Jessica Parker as a mom who also manages to have a career.
There are multiple scenes in the movie where way-too-impressed employees of SJP’s character exclaim that they “don’t know how she does it!” As if being a manager and a new parent is akin to driving a motorcycle 80 miles an hour while juggling multiple chainsaws.
Maybe it’s not the best example of the trials of trying to balance being a boss with being a good parent. But the theme is pretty clear: it aint easy.
Being in charge of both employees and children puts a new set of parameters on your life as a working person.
Surely you’re expecting to be at least a little bit overwhelmed with both responsibilities. But remember: you aren’t in a position of authority by accident. You worked hard to make it happen, and now it’s a reality.
This is the exact mindset you need to deal with the transition from being a manager, to being a parent, all the way to being a manager and a new parent at the same time.
Here are some tips and best practices as you prepare to balance the work of being a manager and a new parent.
1. Know your announcement plan
Make sure you are openly communicative. Especially with the person who will assume many of your duties while you are away from the office.
This news should be brought up in-person. Not over the phone or email.
Be prepared to tell this person your initial thoughts about a leave of absence. Know which responsibilities will shift, and how.
Make sure you are very clear about how the transition will affect this person. Come up with a written plan of daily and weekly responsibilities that will need to be covered.
Remember, covering for a manager and leaving unclarified definitions of authority can cause potential conflict and uncertainty.
The rest of your immediate team comes next, also in person. You will need their support during the transition.
Hopefully you work for a company that offers support to new parents in the workplace.
Like any new circumstance, your co-workers will need time to get used to the idea and prepare new ways to manage.
Clients and key customers that rely on you specifically should be told once your plan is set.
Let them know who will be acting manager in your absence. Bring up any changes to keep in mind with a new key point of contact.
2. Create a plan for your leave
Odds are if you are a key manager at your company, you know how to delegate.
Now is the time to let your team play to their strengths and take some of the responsibility off your shoulders.
Figure out which team members will handle ongoing issues and problems best. Make sure they are put in charge of those elements.
Ask your team members what they rely on you for the most and find ways to fill those needs.
If you think it’s necessary to find outside hires to support in your absence, communicate that through the proper channels.
It’s important to staff key positions so you and your team can delegate as necessary.
Set up a communication plan. Use a previous vacation plan as a model.
The basic communication plan is probably in place. Work from this model and tailor it to cover things like your schedule, probable limited workload, and need to be with your child.
3. Set expectations for when you return
Your return schedule should be established ahead of time, but take time to decide what it looks like on a practical level.
Will you work remotely for a time, then go on site in a part time capacity? If you travel frequently, at what point will you resume those trips?
How will you handle the inevitable changes that have taken place? If you delegated something to a particular team member, and they excelled and enjoyed that task, will it remain part of their job?
When you are a manager and a new parent, you need to lead by example.
Creating a thorough and effective plan for your time out of office and your return from leave will show your team that you care. Make sure they know you care both about the well being of your family and the well being of the company you work for.