New-Parent Work Rules

Show me a new parent on maternity/paternity leave, and Iíll show you a complacent deer just before the semi rounds the corner.

Things certainly change when a new parent goes back to work. Life speeds up, priorities shift, attitudes adjust, and accidents happen.

I remember my first day back into the workforce after the birth of my son-- it began with a morning staff meeting. It was pleasant enough in the beginning. We were huddled to discuss a big, important project that all of the bigwigs upstairs had thrown at our department to complete. Apparently, the fact that I was in my chair didnít impress the others in the room.

"Ken, are you all right?" my boss asked.

"What? Yes, I was just thinking," I said, noticing all of the eyes were on me.

"With your head on the table and your eyes closed?"

"Ah, ah, well," I stammered, "I was concentrating."

"You were drooling," he said.

"Iím excited about this project -- thatís all!" I exclaimed pointing at the paper in front of me.

"Thatís a take-out menu from Wongís," he replied. "We were about to order lunch."

I looked in shock at the faces around the table. All of them smirking at me as if I were a schoolboy caught daydreaming; everyone, that is, except for Jane, the mother of four from accounting who was holding the tip of a permanent marker to her nose to stay awake.

"Am, am I in the right room?" I asked, pretending I had amnesia.

Needless to say, Iíve learned a lot since then about working parent issues. In fact, to help prepare the new mommies and daddies out there, I have written down the Top 12 Things to Remember when re-entering the workforce.

(These tips and warnings have been tested in my laboratories at home and in the office.)

So, remember:

1. Circumcision is NOT a lunchroom topic.

2. The likelihood of a child vomiting on you in the morning is directly related to the number of clean work clothes that you have hanging in your closet.

3. Check to see if your socks match.

4. There is a Take Your Daughter to Work Day, but not a Take Your Newborn to Work Day.

5. Tie your shoes, keys, and wallet permanently to your body. This will save you thirty minutes every morning looking for them.

6. Pray that as you are rushing out the door, your spouse doesnít say, "Honey, come here... and bring the rectal thermometer."

7. Getting to work on time is overrated.

8. Keep lots of pictures of your cute new baby on your desk at work. Itís a lot harder to find someone with the guts to fire you.

9. Develop a thick skin at work when the single employees stare at you, as youíre the last to arrive and the first to go home. Donít even try to explain why you have to leave in the middle of a perfectly good workday to tend a sick child.

10. When you take a day off work to rest, youíll most likely spend the entire time trying to get things done.

11. Every once in awhile, show off to your boss and stay a couple extra minutes past closing time.

12. Nothing breaks up a watercooler discussion faster than someone talking about his or her sonís irritable bowel syndrome.