Returning From Maternity Leave

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a daunting, heart-wrenching and exhausting task. Maria shares her experience and the actionable tips she recommends for managing the transition.

Describe your job and a typical day for you.

I lead the investor relations at a boutique investment firm in Toronto. This means I’m tasked with making sure our company is represented in the best possible way to our existing and target investors. It also means I have to manage lots of personalities and play firefighter when I’m required to deal with multiple work fire drills. Add baby Ben to the mix and we have ourselves a juggling act while doing summersaults and spitting fire!

After coming back to work my new days look like this: wake up at 6:30am with a personalized alarm clock in the form of Ben calling “mammmmma”. We do some snuggling in bed until 7:00am and then get dressed to have breakfast at 7:30am. I’m in the office by 9:00am and return most days a bit after 6:00pm just in time to have dinner with Ben and put him to bed by 8:00pm. If I have to I log back in and finish off some work after 8:00pm but I really try not to!  Before Ben I also used to travel a lot more for work. Nowadays I want to make sure I come home for dinner and I try to manage relationships with a phone call versus an in person meeting.

How is it juggling your career and being a new mom?

To be very frank, the pursuit of career growth is taking a break. Having a toddler (and another baby on the way!) is a lot to manage and I decided it was important to prioritize my family first because you can’t do everything. My family and my son’s early childhood years are especially important to me and they come first. While I will continue to commit to doing a good job and deliver results at work, it was also time to take a healthy break from the so called “rat race”. Aside from a mental shift in focus (from work to home) I also learned that being a “working mom” means being very organized. I need to manage my work more efficiently to ensure I get home by dinner. I made efforts like minimizing travel and socializing during work hours to make sure I stay productive. Also procrastination was never my friend, but these days, it can be flat out the enemy. Because I never know if Ben might get a fever or just have a tough night, I simply can’t let tasks get pushed until the last minute.


Having a toddler (and another baby on the way!) is a lot to manage and I decided it was important to prioritize my family first because you can’t do everything.

How do you handle child care?

Child care has caused me many sleepless nights! I returned to work when Ben was 7 months. I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful lady who cares for Ben very well. Back to being organized….  I needed to stay on top of Ben’s daily schedule and make sure i communicate it clearly to his nanny. This was a very important step when we started to work together. It helped her learn about our family and about Ben and it gave me the peace of mind knowing that he is taken care of the way I wish for him to be. Nowadays, I don’t need to explain as much to his nanny and it’s great because I can let go knowing he is ok. However, the upfront time investment was absolutely key in helping us all find the right dynamic!  In terms of childcare activities, most good programs fill up fast, so it was important to… guess what.. stay organized and get us signed up in time!

What were some of the biggest challenges going back to work? How did you overcome them?

One of the most challenging things was letting go of control. I no longer was able to spend my days with Ben, knowing what he ate, when he slept, and did he poop (big topic at our home). I had to let go and trust a caregiver to look after ben. It was tough at the start but time invested with his nanny at the start was key in helping me see that she got it and that Ben was just as happy with her as he was with me. I saw that my son enjoyed spending time with other people as well and it really helped me let go.


One of the most challenging things was letting go of control.

Could you share a work mom meltdown?

My first out of country work travel. I usually do day trips to the US for meetings. My boss and I flew to St Louis for the day, it was the first trip since returning to work. We took the 6:30 am flight out of Toronto and were scheduled to land at 10:30pm. Because I had to leave for the airport early, I did not get to see Ben waking  up and I was scheduled to return way past his bedtime. On the way home, at the airport, I logged into our monitor in his room (it’s connected to our phones). When I saw him sleeping, tears filled my face. It hit me that I missed an entire day and that I didn’t get to tuck him in. so… definitely a full out mom meltdown

When have you been most daring in terms of managing your career post pregnancy?

When I returned to work, I realized that while I love my job, my family will take centre stage. I needed a work schedule that would allow me to prioritize Ben. I was always the “yes” woman,  ready to take on new work projects, and simply never saying no. This time around, I learned to say no and not compromise my promise to put Ben first. Upon my return, I requested a more flexible schedule to work 4 days a week. I never dared to be so “gutsy” and I worried about the reaction of my bosses. However, to my pleasant surprise they were very accommodating and understanding. It also helps to research what your HR policies are and speak to other women in the company. It worked out great and taught me to ask for what I want. Loving Ben and having him in my life, gave me the courage to do that.


This time around, I learned to say no and not compromise my promise to put Ben first.

What advice do you have for other moms going back to work after mat leave?

It’s not as hard as it seems at first- you will figure out a routine that will allow you to be at work and at home. Get started by asking question and doing your research. You will also be surprised at how much you can actually do.  We really are all super women in our own right!

What are the top 3 things you are researching these days? And why?

  1. Toddler books because ben is showing an interest and i want to make sure we don’t lose the momentum!
  2. Vaccinations – this is a very important healthcare decision a parent must make
  3. Fun toddler activities in my city to keep our guy learning and exploring