As anyone who has done it will tell you, returning to work as a first-time parent can be incredibly challenging on so many levels (or even for the second, third, or fourth time). Those halcyon days of parental leave are behind you, and now you are faced with the juggle of work and keeping a small human alive. It can be a daunting prospect – but with the right support, the transition back into work can be a positive experience.
Alexa Bleecker, Kasada’s Director of Growth Marketing and Content Strategy, returned to work after the birth of her first child and took an ‘unforgettable’ 16 weeks of parental leave. She shares her experience with us:
How do you like your role before and after maternity leave?
I loved my role before I went on maternity leave, and now I love it even more. When I first started at Kasada, I was very vocal about the fact that I wanted to be a people leader. Before I went on parental leave, instead of getting a contractor to fill my role, we decided to hire two people on my team. This would not only help short-term while I was on leave, but it would be beneficial when I came back to work. I actually ended up going into labor on the day I was supposed to interview someone who is now on the team (thanks to Nolan arriving 2 weeks early!).
By the time I came back from leave, my new team was onboarded and had settled into their roles. I’m really grateful that I was able to have such a great experience to spend time with my newborn and a seamless transition back to work.
How did you feel coming back to work?
I actually felt awesome coming back to work. My mentor and the rest of the team welcomed me and represented what we are all about as a culture. I felt needed by my new team to provide additional structure and set up one-on-ones to help achieve their goals. Before taking leave the team was very lean with only 3 people, so building more formalized processes and ensuring the newer members had what they needed to be successful were at the top of my priority list.
Kasada also offers personal return-to-work coaching to parents which I took advantage of. The sessions are tailored to individual needs, and I focused on leadership skills and goals that I had set out for the remainder of the year. I found coaching to be super helpful – not just for the transition back, but also for my professional development.
What one word would you use to describe your experience of parental leave?
Unforgettable. I am so grateful to Kasada for the way I was able to completely unplug and focus on the special moments of motherhood I shared with my little one and family.
How do you find a balance between your work and parenthood?
Before I became a parent, I honestly never thought I’d be able to find that balance. Thankfully Kasada provides me with the flexibility to do the things I need to do as a working mom. I’m very fortunate that I have a wonderful nanny that takes care of my baby during the day, and then when she leaves around 5 or 6pm, I’m able to take over. Because I work from home, sometimes I’ll go on a walk or eat lunch with them around noon.
I love start-ups, it’s always where I gravitate. For me, it’s a more challenging environment to grow and scale a company as compared to working at one that’s more established. It allows you to learn new things at a much faster rate. Because of the nature of start-ups, I thought I would have to choose between being a mother and working at a start-up like Kasada. To be able to do both is amazing to me.
You’ve shared a lot around the great things about returning to work, have there been any challenges?
Sometimes after a long day at work, I’ll log off and see my baby and it feels a bit surreal. I’ll think … ‘Wow,‘I have a baby?! This is really weird.’
I have so much more empathy now for other working parents. I never appreciated how badass it is. You are doing all the things, waking up through the night and then waking up early ready for the workday, go go go every day.
What advice would you give to new parents returning to work after parental leave?
My piece of advice while on leave is to take it all in and make the most of it. It’s one of those times you will never be able to get back. Having a new baby is an incredibly special time, and everyone says it, but it goes by so fast.
In the early days while I was on maternity leave, if Nolan slept through the night, I’d try to reenact exactly what I did the night before in an attempt to have a repeat (which it never did). When I returned to work, it finally clicked that the reason it worked in the first place was because I wasn’t trying too hard to control the situation.
When returning to work, go with the flow. Things aren’t going to go as planned or your way anymore. Now you have a little human who has his or her own personality, and all expectations go out the window. I’ve found the more I go with the flow, the less stressful it is and the better the outcome.
Huge thanks to Alexa for taking the time to share her experience with us! It was great to hear how positive an experience she has had thanks to the ongoing support of her mentor, her team, and the broader business. As a working mother myself, I echo Alexa’s sentiment that Kasada is a great place to work and a place to do great work!
If you are looking to join a flexible and inclusive environment keep an eye on our Careers Page as we continue to grow. We’d love to hear from you!