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Back to work, post baby

In light of the back-to-school season, we talked with two associates who have both welcomed new additions to the Raymond James family. Alex Keim, assistant division director for our Financial Institutions Division, and Ashli Tomas, senior manager in Mutual Fund Trading, share their stories and some advice below for transitioning back to work after having a newborn.

Meet Alex and baby Finn

A first-time father to baby boy Finn (both pictured here), Alex was able to spend a total of 12 weeks with Finn after his wife gave birth. He took two weeks of personal time immediately following Finn’s birth, and then with the Raymond James paternal leave policy, he was able to spend 10 weeks of paternity leave with his son when his wife had to go back to work.

Raymond James offers two lengths of paternity leave: 10 weeks for primary caregivers and four weeks for secondary caregivers. A primary caregiver is considered someone who will primarily be in charge of the child’s well-being. This person will typically spend the most time with the child. In order to qualify as a primary caregiver, you must attest to being the person primarily responsible for the child’s care.

“I think everyone thinks, ‘Take the 10 weeks,’ but there was a strong sense of guilt in making that decision. It turned out to be an absolute blessing and the right decision for our family. Not only was I able to build a stronger bond with my son but also he was born a couple weeks after COVID-19 started to spread more broadly. With so many unknowns about COVID-19 at the time, it was a blessing to be able to be home with him and be his primary caregiver during that time.”

Meet Ashli and baby Tea

Now a mom of three, Ashli (pictured here with her children Leo, Mia and Tea) recently returned to work after 16 weeks of paid recovery and primary leave bonding time with baby Tea.

“I wish I could tell new parents returning to work gets easier, but the reality is, it doesn’t,” Ashli admitted. “The weeks leading up are emotional. The first day of drop-off is a disaster. The working parent guilt sets in. But on my first day back, my takeaway was not new tasks, assignments or projects … it was gratitude for such great leaders and team members. [I felt] gratitude for the firm and being able to take this employee benefit of four months paid time off to spend with Tea and [the rest of] my family.”

Advice for new parents

For those gearing up for parental leave, particularly if you have multiple children, Ashli shared: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and communicate when you need it. This can even include your older children, depending on their ages. The daily logistics can be overwhelming. Leading up to my leave, I started giving the older siblings age-appropriate responsibilities to help with our daily routines, including packing their backpacks and sports bags, picking out their clothes the night before and helping to tidy up the house before bed. I consider these teaching wins, and this helps us have fewer chaotic mornings.”

Thinking about his transition back to work, Alex shared: “Personally, I found it best to block off an hour or two each workday to focus on clearing out emails and catching up. I would not stress over trying to clear everything up – if it is important, they will reach back out. But putting aside time every day will help spread out the backlog. Also, when you return, work with your manager to set your work hours and stick to them. If you stop working at 5 or 5:30 p.m., really stop working at that time. Set boundaries for yourself and focus on [your] work/life balance.”

“Give yourself grace and time,” said Ashli. “Transitioning back to work will be an adjustment. You’ve gone from having no daily schedule to an environment that didn’t stop while you were out. Once you get settled in, touch base with the key individuals you work with to catch up on the big things you missed so you can get up to speed. You can also partner with your leadership team to find where you are most needed, so you know where to prioritize your time once you’ve returned.”

Related benefits at Raymond James

Paid leaves of absence

In addition to recovery time for birth parents, all parents are eligible for paid parental leave to bond with new children, including adoptions.

Maternity management program

Offered through UnitedHealthcare, the Raymond James maternity management program is free and designed for all mothers, no matter what their pregnancy journeys look like. The program provides information on what to expect and support throughout pregnancy and after giving birth. A nurse is available to provide insight into choosing the right hospital or birthing center for you as well as knowledge on nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding, postpartum and more.

Returning to work

Upon return, mothers have access to Mothers’ Lounges throughout the home office in St. Petersburg, Florida. The designated areas include lockers, minifridges and private spaces with chairs and outlets, where mothers can conveniently store milk and/or pumping supplies.

And because we know that transitions can be hard, especially when it comes to parenthood and returning to work after having a baby, we have well-being resources available to our associates, including an Employee Assistance Program that offers eight free counseling sessions as well as app-based and on-demand mental well-being services.

Family support when parents need it most

Raising children can be tough. Rethink is a program provided by Raymond James, at no cost to associates, that gives families access to one-on-one consultations with a dedicated behavior expert and unlimited use of resources, including step-by-step videos and exclusive content to help families raise children who may have learning, social or behavioral challenges, or developmental disabilities.

Discover more associate benefits here.