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Working Moms

  • Questions to Ask HR About Maternity Leave

    Thanks to our friend Allyson Downey for sharing this piece with Nine Naturals! Allyson is the founder of weeSpring and the author of the book Here's the Plan, the pregnancy and parenting guide to professional life. 

    Treat your initial meeting with Human Resources with them as a fact-finding mission. Take notes throughout the conversation, and send an email afterward confirming your understanding of the policy. This is especially important since few companies have a comprehensive policy in writing. (Scroll down for a printable list!)

    How You Get Paid During Maternity Leave

    • What is the maximum amount of time away, including extended unpaid time, that the company allows? Do I have flexibility in how I use that time? (Can I use some toward working part-time weeks when you return?) Can I reserve some of my leave for later?
    • How much of my salary will I receive while I am out on leave?
    • Does my equity continue to vest while I’m on parental leave? (This is especially important if your equity represents a large portion of your compensation.)
    • If you are in a state that affords parental leave: Does that leave occur concurrently with any employer-sponsored leave, or is it sequential?
    • If you have incentive-based compensation, how does that work? Am I still eligible for my full bonus, or is it a pro-rata share? How will commissions be paid out while I am on leave?

    How Benefits Are Handled While on Maternity Leave

    • How is my health insurance paid for while I’m on leave? (If your leave is unpaid, you may have to mail in a check for your portion of your health insurance.) What about contributions to flexible spending accounts?
    • If you have life insurance or disability insurance through your company: How is my life insurance paid?
    • Do I accrue benefits while out on leave? (Ask about retirement fund contributions, vacation days or sick days, time toward a sabbatical, and any other benefits your employer may offer.)
    • What are the terms of my short-term disability coverage? What happens if I have medical complications and need to leave early? How much of my salary will I receive? Will this count as part of my maternity leave?
    The Nitty Gritty Logistics of Maternity Leave
    • What forms do I need to complete, and when? When is the FMLA form due? Is there a form for Short-Term Disability?
    • When do I need to finalize my departure and return to work dates? 
    • How do I add my child to my health insurance and make other open enrollment changes (like flexible spending account elections)? What is the deadline for doing this?
    • Do you offer a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account? How does that work?
    • How do I add my child as a beneficiary on my retirement account and employer-provided life insurance?
    Your Return to Work After Maternity Leave
    • Does the company allow teleworking or flex-time?
    • Are there mother’s rooms or other facilities for pumping moms? (Ask to see it; you can find a checklist of things to look for in the appendix.)
    • Are there any other benefits for new parents that I should be aware of?

    DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE LIST

    Allyson Downey is an entrepreneur, writer, MBA, and parent who has built a career on the power of trusted advice. In 2013, she launched weeSpring, a Techstars-backed startup that helps new and expecting parents collect advice from their friends about what they need for their baby.  She is also the author of the book Here's the Plan, the pregnancy and parenting guide to your professional life. 

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  • Working Moms: General Public Goods

    Instagram is a place for inspiration and information, as well as camaraderie and community. Many a thumb-swipe have yielded a great friendship or business partner, two people that may not have ever found each other otherwise if not for a follow and a like. Such is the case with Alexis Sassard and Randee Shields, co-founders of one of our favorite new lines of new mama must-haves, General Public Goods.

    These two Texas mamas have reinvigorated the postpartum wardrobe, with simple, classic hand-made pieces. Like the perfect V-neck top. A cardigan you’ll reach for on the daily. And a ring sling that’s comfortable and chic from your baby’s infancy through toddlerhood, with genius details like a pocket on the tail.

    Now that both are expecting their second babies, they’re bound to have even more insight into the postpartum market.

    Read more here

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  • Postpartum Fashion: Back to Work

    9 dresses that will get you psyched to end your maternity leave.

    Article & Photos courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    Heading back to work after a maternity leave can be difficult for many reasons. Not only is it an emotional transition, but with that new postpartum body, there’s also the struggle with what to wear. The last work-appropriate outfit you likely bought was when catering to a pregnant body, and despite the fact that you’ve since given birth, who goes back to their original shape in 12 weeks? With that said, here are a few back-to-work spring and summer dresses that will help you stay calm, cool, collected, and comfortable while stepping into your new role: working mom!

    [masterslider id=”15″]

    This article is by Jenny Greenstein, courtesy of Well Rounded NY. Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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  • Need to Know: heymama

    The ladies behind heymama give us 6 reasons to shop “mom-owned” businesses while pregnant.

    Article & Photos courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    We are truly amazed by how many moms and moms-to-be we meet that are simultaneously bringing up baby AND a small business (or sometimes, a big business). As entrepreneurial moms ourselves, there is nothing more motivating and inspiring than seeing other entrepreneurial moms that are hustling…and kicking ass. And now that heymama is here we know where to find them. The site’s become a regular read, and we’re slightly addicted to Hey Mama’s Instagram feed, with its heartfelt stories of enterprising moms around the world.

    We recently caught up with heymama founders Katya Libin (mom to Liliana, 4) and Amri Kibbler (mom to Mari, 4, and another little girl on the way!) and found out what inspires them, how they unwind, and what

    6 “mom-owned” businesses every pregnant gal should know about right now.

    Why do you think it’s so important to build your mom community as a new mom?
    Amri: It can be really scary and lonely to become a mom, there are so many things that you need answers to, things that only another mom can help you through. Just feeling like you’re not alone can make all the difference.

    Who’s a hey mama?
    Amri: Our members are entrepreneurs, businesswomen, stylists, content creators, bloggers, editors, writers and all kinds of creative women. When it comes to their style of parenting, it really runs the gamut: we have moms who are into attachment parenting, babywearing, home-schooling, breastfeeding, public schools, those that have nannies or rely on stay-at-home dads and more. We support anything that feels right to you has a mother. We are non-judgmental parents, and really want to create a support system for women that want to explore their passions and dreams outside of motherhood while being parents.

    How do you divide and conquer on the day to day?
    Amri: We both weigh in on pretty much everything. Katya takes the lead on the agency portion of heymama and I handle more of the editorial front.

     

    How does being moms influence your daily work?
    Amri: From a logistic perspective… it takes a lot of organizing. When you’re a mom, you have to look ahead and plan everything out. Once you get the hang of that, it’s much easier to fit everything in. From a creative perspective, my daughter inspires me all the time. I love doing crafts and cooking and have so much fun sharing these activities with Mari. Cooking is such a great way to teach skills like math as well as practice working together. They open up your creativity in away you many have forgotten. You can be silly and really explore your artistic side.

    When the workday’s over and the kids are finally asleep, how do you spend your “me” time?
    Amri: Uh, ok you got me! At the moment I really haven’t been making much “me time”! When Mari is asleep, it’s back to emails. I do try to squeeze in frequent manicures and some early morning Pilates once a week. That’s what happens when you start a business, get pregnant, and move all around the same time. Totally guilty, but I’m going to do some meditation tonight before bed now that you called me out. Katya has some really great positive affirmations she listens to!
    Katya: I love to go to the gym after a long day–it helps me destress and gives me “me time.” When not at the gym, NYC has no shortage of incredible restaurants to catch up with old friends. I’m also obsessed with Glam & Go, a membership service for blow outs.

     

    Give us 6 mom-owned businesses that every pregnant gal needs to know about.
    1. Tubby Todd. Their products are not only all-natural, but smell delicious. I bought them for Mari but have been using them myself while pregnant. The lotion is moisturizing and not sticky. The package in super cute and my daughter loves it.

    2. HATCH Collection. The best fashion-forward pieces for everyday! I’ve been living in the jumpsuits, dresses and sweaters. The pieces feel both like versatile basic but also unique, and transition from maternity to the rest of your busy life with baby.

    3. Mitera Collection. This collection of chic modern dresses each contains invisible zippers that make breast-feeding a snap. It’s really hard to find office, meeting, and event appropriate breastfeeding friendly outfits. These are so beautiful you’ll wear them way past the time you and your babe have finished breastfeeding.

    4. Natti Natti. The collection is designed by an artistic husband and wife duo that owned and operated an art gallery for five years in Chelsea. The modern yet whimsical Brooklyn meets Sweden line of organic baby blankets, pillows, and toddler bedding are made in small batches, are super soft, and very special.

    5. Kid and Coe. This site is a must for all families who love to travel! You can rent gorgeous family centric homes all around the globe. They come stocked with essentials like high chairs, cribs, and toys. It’s so much more comfortable to have a kitchen prep meals for little ones and a separate bedroom so you can get some rest.

    6. DockATot. is a multi-functional lounging, playing, resting, snuggling station for your baby. It’s a comfortable and safe place to set your new baby while you take care of mama and perfect if you practice co-sleeping.

    This article is by Jessica Pallay, courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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    • 9 Stylish Instagram Accounts You Have To Follow

      Let’s be honest, we could all use some fashion inspiration every once in a while, and when your body is changing, some of your favorite outfits may not work. We’ve combed the Instagram beauty world for fabulous bloggers that show off some gorgeous baby bump fashion. Sharing their personal maternity style, along with photos of their adorable children, these ladies inspire creativity and grace. Get ready to be inspired by these stylish mamas-to-be as they #dressthebump!

      Rach Parcell (Pink Peonies)

      Ananda Saba Patel (Super Fashionable)

      Eva Chen

      Andrea (With Love Andrea)

      Irina Bond (Bond Girl Glam)

      Chriselle Lim (The Chriselle Factor)

      Emily Schuman (Cupcakes and Cashmere)

      Joy Cho (Oh Joy!)

      Sarah Sherman Samuel (Smitten Studios)

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    • Leaving Maternity Leave

      Jump back into the working world with a little help from Baby Caravan.

      Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

      The business of making a baby is about nothing if not preparedness. A birth plan? I’d made one. A hospital bag? Mine was packed a good month in advance of my due date. When my husband and I returned home with our two-day-old daughter, our apartment was filled with all manner of bottle systems and stroller contraptions and handkerchief-sized items of girlie clothing.

      For a while there, everything was more or less under control: the baby was still alive. Her older brother had given up his campaign to rename her “City Bus” and was all about the hugs and kisses. Just as my maternity leave was nearing its end, though, I had a new army of scenarios to fret about.

      Which is why I summoned Emily Crocker and Jennifer Mayer, two of Brooklyn’s finest doulas, to my doorstep some three months after the birth of my daughter. They’d come over to walk me through the rather fraught business of jumping back into the working world.

      Emily and Jen, along with doula London King, are co-founders of Baby Caravan, a band of six baby workers that focus on birth and postpartum doula’ing. To round out the continuum, the company has just launched its back-to-work program, which entails a mix of private sessions and group classes aimed at providing support for mothers returning to the grind. Clients typically receive one private session, a follow-up written plan, and phone, text and email support after they report to the office.

      “Women make up more than 50% of the workforce and are responsible for 100% of the baby making in this world, and yet we have no support when we go back to work. It’s utterly astounding,” says Emily, a postpartum doula and mother of two. “We have worked with and spoken to women in all types of fields including OB/GYNs, heads of PR of large advertising firms and small business owners—and they are all extremely anxious about leaving their babies at home.”

      Jen has been a birth doula for a decade, is a certified holistic health coach and is expecting her first baby this winter. “This program was inspired after I followed up with my clients a year or more after their births,” she says. “Many had amazing maternity leaves and really enjoyed that time with their little ones. Then they went back to work, and the rug was pulled out from beneath them. It’s something people don’t talk about—you’re supposed to ‘just pump and get on with it.’ But it’s a big deal. And it’s okay to feel ambivalent.”

      A few days before our visit, Emily and Jen emailed me an intake form with some lay-of-the-land questions. I was asked to share my childcare plans, the names of my family members and where I stood on the issues of exercise and take-out’s role at the family dinner table. I was also asked to rank in order of concern six aspects of returning to work, including sleep, my pumping plans and sharing duties with my husband.

      Once we were seated in my living room, Emily and Jen used my answers as jumping off points for what would become one of the fastest two and a half hour conversations in history. We talked about why I love my job, and why it’s important to me that my kids see their mother thriving out of the house. Then we moved on to the logistics and unpacked each aspect of my return to work, discussing my plans and nifty little ways to tweak them.

      “There’s no one size fits all answer, we can help moms make their decisions about pumping strategies or getting dinner on the table every night,” says Emily.

      I wasn’t too concerned about pumping, but preserving family dinner was preying on my mind. “It would be easy if I could just make pasta every night and never have to think about it,” I said. Emily and Jen actually thought that was a brilliant idea, and soon we were in agreement that I should put aside any Ottolenghi-esque ambitions and my household would eat the same quartet of super-easy meals Monday through Thursday. “We did that when I was a kid,” Emily said. “Taco Tuesday was everybody’s favorite.”

      Another thing I’d been worrying about—handling all the family-related emails that I can never seem to stay on top of —didn’t faze Emily and Jen. “That’s an important part of parenting,” said Jen. “I call it ‘kinkeeping.’ Women tend to do the bulk of it. If you’re the main kinkeeper, it’s important to remember all the work your partner does that makes your life easier.” Telling them about all the things my kids’ father takes care of made me feel grateful, and less overwhelmed. Emily had a practical suggestion. “Why don’t you allow yourself to forget about these things except when you’re pumping? That can be your time to deal with any kinkeeping.” This seemed eminently doable.

      When I voiced what might be my biggest concern—that I will sorely miss my children—Emily had these words: “You’ll see them for dinner, and that’s the sweetest part of the day. There’s so much less aggravation than when you’re on your own with the kids in the middle of the day.” My mind flashed to a particularly messy scene from the previous afternoon, and I smiled.

      A few days after our meeting, Jen and Emily emailed me my plan. It ticked off the things that I seem to have in good order, and offered a few suggestions for ways to make the trickier parts of my transition easier. They urged me to call another new mom at my office to chat about the mothers’ rooms before my first day back, and to set aside a couple nights a month for post-work drinks or a yoga class. They even gave me homework, asking me to come up with a list of dinner “musts” (e.g. Must get vegetables on the table more nights than not) and “must nots” (e.g. Must not serve bagels for dinner… twice in a row), aimed at helping me establish a low bar for what counts as success.

      Of course, there are limits to what Emily and Jen can do. Were they able to assure me that I’ll never get an emergency call informing me that my toddler had locked himself in the bathroom? Could they guarantee that every morning I’d wake up fresh-faced and my work dresses would emerge from the closet unrumpled? If only. But it felt bizarrely comforting to give voice to the stress that had been building up within, and remember why I’m so excited to top up my Metrocard.

      Baby Caravan’s back-to-work program costs $300 and includes the one 2 hour private session, a follow-up written plan, and phone, text and email support after a mom reports to the office. Additional hours are available.

      This article is by Laura Mechling, courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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      Making Way for Baby: Preparing for Your Maternity Leave
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