How to stay connected during parental leave

We’re continuing this series of blogs about taking parental leave with this insight into how to stay connected while you’re off.

I personally found this quite challenging when I took my second maternity leave so I was delighted to be able to get the inside track from Charlotte Speak, founder of Power of the Parent.

Charlotte works to help parents reconnect with their unique strengths, building their confidence and self-worth. She also works with organisations who want to make a positive difference to people by supporting their teams as their families grow. As a parent herself who had a corporate career in recruitment and coaching, she is passionate about the skills and abilities parents bring to the workplace.

Meg: What advice would you share about ‘staying connected’ during their career break?

Charlotte: Communication preferences are so personal and subjective, they also change along the way!

If your line manager (or somebody else) is sending you updates, are you finding the headspace to actually read them? Staying connected isn’t just about getting the information, it’s about actually engaging with it, so I’d recommend that you reflect on what’s the best format for you. It might be a phone call every few months if you’re just not getting around to reading your emails.

Also know that it’s normal for your feelings to change – I’ve worked with plenty of people who think they don’t want to receive updates but once they’re on parental leave, they’ve felt really differently, and vice versa.

Meg: How much contact do you think parents should have with an employer during parental leave?

Charlotte: I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule with this, and I think that’s sometimes what causes the problem from both perspectives. Having an open conversation before the employee starts their leave is what’s key.


A client of mine had a month with no contact and then after that she dialled in to a monthly team meeting, but I also have people join my workshops who haven’t spoken to their line manager other than to tell them when they’re going to be returning!

Figure out what’s right for both of you, and also make allowances for mandatory updates your employer might need to share.

Meg: What are the pros and cons of staying in touch?

Charlotte: So many!! A few that are headline pros are that staying in touch has the potential to keep engagement up, can fend off feelings of low confidence, and you’ll start to understand how all the new jigsaw pieces of your life can fit together when you return to work.

For cons, there’s always the risk of getting only pieces of a story and things being taken out of context. And, of course, you might get sucked into a work conversation that you really don’t have the headspace for – which can then be counterproductive on the confidence front!

It’s so individual but I always encourage at least a couple of check ins between parent and line manager during their leave.

Meg: What about Keeping In Touch (KIT) days? How would you recommend using these?

Charlotte: I think they can be great – a brilliant way to stay in touch, test out new routines and get set back up with things like technology and equipment before your return. Team meetings, training, project updates – they’re all great ways to use the time.

For the parent, the line manager and the team it’s really important that you have a bit of a plan, otherwise it might feel like a waste of time and childcare!

Meg: When would you advise people start thinking about their return to work and contact with their employer?

Charlotte: I’d start with your company policy first of all – there might be a particular timeframe that they work to, in which case that takes precedent of course. Otherwise – listen to your gut.

Often around three months before you’re due back can be a good time to start putting down more concrete plans, but for many of us you’ve got the added logistics of your childcare setting. If your return logistics are impacted by nursery days, childminder availability or a family member helping out, then align your conversations as soon as you can.


If you’re interested in strengths-based coaching, contact Charlotte, or for careers advice and coaching, you can book a free chemistry session with me by calling 07765 894040.


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