How to Prepare For and Return From Maternity Leave

In this episode, Maggie chats with career coach Lea Berry about experience planning for maternity leave, easing back into work, and being creative about finding some balance between work and family. If you are a working parent or plan to be someday, this episode is for you.

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Lea Berry is a certified professional Life & Career coach, combining over a decade of foreign and domestic policy and consulting experience to help her clients navigate the job market with a fresh and creative approach. An avid connector, she hosts a number of workshops, group coaching and individual coaching programs across the public and private sector to help professionals rise into leadership positions with practical tools and insights. She’s helped increase retention and achieve greater engagement for a number of clients in industries including: government consulting, lobbying, non-profits, NGOs, USG and Fortune 100 companies.

She is proud to support professionals to successfully level up their careers that speak to their strengths and interests while continuing to seek new challenges and opportunities to grow.

When she isn’t hosting workshops or coaching, you can find Lea with her husband and two daughters gardening or taking on a new house project in Kensington, MD.

To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit

The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano 0:05
Hi, and thanks for listening to the money circle podcast. I’m your host, Maggie Germano, and I’m a feminist and a financial writer, speaker, educator and coach for women. I’m passionate about making personal finance less scary and more approachable so that women can improve their relationship with money and take control of their finances. Every other week, I will interview an amazing, inspiring woman to talk about the issues that impact our money, our health, our independence, and more. We will touch on the societal and structural issues that we need to work together to change and the actions that we each have the power to take in our own lives. If you’d like to learn more about me and the work that I do, visit my website at Maggie or follow me on Instagram at Maggie Germano. Thanks again for listening and I hope you enjoy. Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Lea Berry, who is a certified professional life and career coach. In this episode, we chat about Lea’s experience planning for maternity leave, easing back into work and being creative about finding some balance between work and family. If you’re a working parent, or you plan to be someday, This episode is definitely for you. Enjoy.

Okay, welcome, Lea, thanks so much for being here today.

Lea Berry 1:32
Thank you so much for having me, Maggie.

Maggie Germano 1:34
Of course, I’m glad to connect. So for folks who don’t know you, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Lea Berry 1:42
Fantastic. So hi, everyone, my name is Lea Berry. I’m a life and career coach. I’m based around the DC metro area. I’ve been coaching for about seven or so years now on and off for almost eight years now. And I focus primarily on career coaching. So I do work full time for a company called General Assembly. And just before coming to to General Assembly and what we’ll get into with my with having a family, I did have a business as well focused on life and career coaching.

Maggie Germano 2:17
Great, and how did you find yourself in getting into the career coaching kind of industry both, you know, with your own business, and I know you said you’re a life coach, too, but it seems like you focus very much on the career side.

Lea Berry 2:32
Okay, what inspired that, I started my journey in about 2012, I was working in a job where I was experiencing a ton of burnout. And I found coaching is to be the way in which I found my next steps. And it could really align what I was really interested with, with, you know, my skills, my interests, my passions, with an actual job, right like with something that was like practical in DC. And I think with, with DC being a place where you have so many really smart people you have, you know, so many hard working people, burnout is one of those things, I feel like everyone experiences and so during my own journey through that, you know, compromising my health compromising my sanity to do a job that I wasn’t that excited about that really pushed me to find my next step. And that next step for me was becoming a coach. And that was really the the light that was really the fire for me. So I started my business back that it actually helped land me into my next role in consulting. And that was working for as well as a private company. And then through that whole process, you know, building a brand, having the business, that’s what actually helped get me the role that I have now at a GA.

Maggie Germano 3:45
That’s great. And I love that you’ve been able to kind of weave in and out of being a full time business owner and then going back in as an employee or consultant. Because I think a lot of people think that like once you leave a job to go have your own business, that’s like admitting failure in order to win you like go back and get like a full time job. And I just fundamentally disagree with that. I think you can make changes and weave in and out and adjust what your career approaches depending on what makes the most sense for you both financially and personally.

Lea Berry 4:20
Yeah, and especially the personal part, I think for for me, I always knew that, you know, my partner and I were definitely ready to like move forward in our lives and get married and have a family and we didn’t want to wait too long. That was like our own personal preference. I was able to drive that whole kind of like plan of course, or a type in our in our relationship. And I think how I tried to align that with my business was my business should be helping me in achieving those goals and be a part of my life, right and I don’t want it to compromise my life in any way. So that I think helped me find where those opportunities and chasing where it could learn something new. And that’s you No. And I think being able to now as a mom, you know, thinking about how can I choose those opportunities and make them work for my family as well. That’s something I’m continuously learning.

Maggie Germano 5:11
Yeah, so related to that, how has your approach to your career shifted and changed since becoming a mother and I know that you now have two little ones. So well, how has that affected your career, both your trajectory, but also just kind of what you’re hoping to do with your career,

Lea Berry 5:31
I used to feel very shoot for the moon, and take on all these different projects and ideas, and it’s okay, if I work late into the night, because I was chasing the skills and accomplishments of doing something that I really loved, you know, I love to coach I love working with people on their next steps. And so, as a mom, I have to think of, Okay, I spend my days doing that, and I have to fill that cup. And then I also have to fill my cup as mother, right. So I need to spend some time with my kids, and, you know, make sure they have that one on well, as much as I can one on one time with me, or group time, you know, together as a family, because that fills another cup to that, you know, I don’t, you can’t find you can’t kind of like get either of those. And the other scenario there. So I think the, my, my next step in my career will include, you know, the, not, I don’t wanna say the elusive idea of balance my family, but it will include the priority of, you know, having time for my family, as well as the dedicated time to be able to to work because I really do love having both.

Maggie Germano 6:40
Yeah, I think that’s a really important piece and what you were saying, I liked how you phrased it of having like the career Cup and the motherhood cup, because it, I think we try to, like you said, we try to view it as this one big thing that we have to balance and that there is such a thing as work life balance. And I think even people who don’t have kids who struggle with that, too, like it all just really bleeds into one another. And, you know, something has to give sometimes, and I liked how you were saying, you know, by choosing one approach to career, like you’re filling up that cup, and you’re making sure there at least is something there, versus also wanting to be a mother and wanting to make sure that you have enough time with your family to really have that meaningful time and that you don’t have to necessarily sacrifice one for the other, it just might look different at different times.

Lea Berry 7:30
Exactly, yeah. And I’m totally okay with making that sacrifice, because I know ultimately, it will balance out. Even even at a very high like stress situation, you know, leaning on my partner for something it is, is a really important lesson learned and actually something that I think I feel, you know, I, I want both of those cups, I think more so as a mom of two than I did as a mom of one. And the reason being, you know, I was still I still have my business running on the side when after I had my first daughter. And this is in 2018 I kept a lot of things moving, I had contracts in the works, I was moving to corporate It was really, really great. I was so excited. And I was also feeling extremely guilty, like I needed to stay home with her it was just this new like nesting feeling of I want to be home with my daughter, I want to make sure she has enough time with me. And you know, just happenstance, you know, when everything hit with COVID you know, I had a several months of her being home. So there was no daycare, everything was moved remotely. And I had those moments with her I had every day with her at home, where, you know, as balancing calls and balancing coaching sessions and facilitating and, you know, trying to keep her quiet in the background. But you know, I also had a lot of really tender moments with her and special moments with her that made me feel really, really happy. And that really made me realize like, you know, she, she’s getting Mom, I’m here I feel that cup after having to I have really come to appreciate the the you know, the childcare system that we’ve set up for ourselves even more so. And, you know, I have also really found my love for working as well as motherhood together and having that time for myself has become so so important.

Maggie Germano 9:20
That’s great. And I am glad to hear you say it that way too. Because I feel like I’ve kind of said already, I think people feel like there needs to be almost a one over the other or if you want one, then you have to sacrifice another and just doesn’t have to be that way. And of course, having systems of support like childcare is very vital in that scenario. But, you know, related to that, how did you kind of prepare for maternity leave both with your first child and with your second child? Did that look different at all between the two and how did you kind of strategize for that.

Lea Berry 9:59
I think For, for both of them, of course, the first time around was a little bit, I would say, a little bit more challenging because I really didn’t know what that was going to look like to not work, you know, for a series of months with the company I was working with at that time, I had six months of leave. So I didn’t really know in six months, what what was going to be different, I just knew I’m pregnant, I’m going to have a baby, and then something will happen on the other side of this fence, you know, I’m not really sure what my postpartum journey is yet, because I haven’t experienced it. But preparing for it, I had a really great, like, set of managers who were great about that process. So I had a lot of support, I had other moms who were like, coaching me through the whole process, here are some really good things for you to know, you know, here’s, here’s how you can hand off the tasks that you had was very structured, which I really appreciated. The second time around, you know, you’d think I would have learned from fully from that experience, but, you know, I was working at the company I’m at now and you know, being in charge of a team, rather than just a team lead. You know, I had to hand off tasks, and I did those things with a lot more notice. So I prepared for my leave, I would say about six months before it happened. So it was like, right after I felt comfortable telling people I was pregnant. And you know, I immediately, you know, told my manager announce it to everybody. And we began to work on a plan together. So it was no shock. Everyone was completely on the same page. All the columns were in, everybody knew what was happening. So I was able to, to like walk away when you know, when the day happened on a moment’s notice.

Maggie Germano 11:35
That’s great. I mean, having that time to plan ahead, I’m sure is really helpful and having the support at work to be able to tell them early because I know a lot of people worry about that too. Is there anything you would have changed about either approach that you took now that you’re kind of beyond that?

Lea Berry 11:54
I don’t think so when it comes to planning for maternity leave, I feel like I had enough really good advice. That said do it early because I think of other people who’ve had some sort of similar mistake of waiting to the last minute or feeling nervous to tell, you know, their, you know, their colleagues, and then it gets to be so late in the process that they start to feel guilty or you know, you know, just very nervous and scared in some way for many. So I think having that conversation early was really helpful. And building out like a robust spreadsheet really was like the best way for me to feel like okay, I’m not going away and never coming back or you know, there’s like there’s these things in in place like that, I can come back and pick up when I’m when I’m ready to come back from leave. And everybody knows what they need to do in the process. So I don’t feel like I’m dropping the ball or leaving anyone with something additional, which you know, is, you know, never what you want people to feel when you’re when you’re taking time for your family, because you’re not taking time off to do nothing. You’re very busy when you are in your postpartum journey.

Maggie Germano 12:58
Oh, yeah, I can attest to that still being you know, within that three or four month period postpartum, and that it’s like, how does anyone do anything? Like I feel so I’ve always been very supportive of having, you know, paid parental leave, and all of that. But now even more so because I’m like, how do people go back to work so fast, I just don’t understand, like, physically how you could do it emotionally how you can do it, and then just managing a baby, and then the rest of your life, it’s just, it’s really hard.

Lea Berry 13:26
It is. And, you know, you might be in a similar situation, we don’t have any family close by. So it really is just down to, you know, my partner and myself to really, you know, to do to do the raising, and especially when you have to, it’s like, okay, now you have, you know, the toddler who needed the attention, she needs someone to run around with her. So my husband naturally took that while I was, of course recovering as well as spending time, you know, with, with Claire, my youngest daughter, so that, you know, in of itself not being able to take off that time that I needed. You know, it’s there is so much mental and physical recovery that is a part of that. And especially when you have to when you’re you’re balancing both, it’s it’s just like, Oh, goodness, yeah, you just need to focus in on that moment. You can’t worry about work, you have to be able to fully step away from it.

Maggie Germano 14:15
Right? Yeah, I totally agree. And so what was it like for you easing back into work? So you know, when taking maternity leave working at these companies that you’re working at? What was that like for you getting back into the swing of things?

Lea Berry 14:30
I will say from I remember spective where the first time I was coming back to a pretty well established team at a large company. So the onboarding process was much more relaxed. It was like hey, we’re going to set up these meetings with you Everything is already I was I was coming in to like help support for the near term and they were slowly ramping me up on a new project. Whereas when I came back to the company that but now they have a little bit more of a startup mentality So there’s a lot of things that are always in flight, there’s like things happening all the time. And so when I came back, there were a lot of changes that had happened. And, you know, I was getting up to speed with that. And I did come back on a reduced schedule. So it was very particular about taking, you know, about taking the time I needed to ease clinical ease back into my schedule. So I did work three days a week and notified everybody about that. So that the three day week schedule worked really, really well. And I continue to have like a reduced schedule. I think, once I came back from lead at both companies, so even right now, I’ve adjusted my calendar so that I’m able to do daycare pickup, which of course, you know, for anyone else who’s who has littles and daycare, you may know, you know, you can’t leave your kids in there till 536 30 at night, you know, you have to pick them up even earlier now. So I have to be able to get out of work early to be able to do that. So drop off and pick up times have shifted where my work has to shift. And so coming back and easing back in the second time was a little bit more challenging, just given the company. But everyone was extremely supportive and very friendly and very, like, Hey, take the time that you need. You know, they they tried their best to make it as easy as possible. But there was just, frankly, a lot of things that needed to get done. And you know, it’s, we have due to COVID, we just had a lot more, you know, a lot more happening.

Maggie Germano 16:31
Yeah, oh my god COVID adds so much more complications for people, I’m sure. I mean, at least in my scenario, my husband, I’m lucky that we he can work from home because even though I’m the one primarily taking care of the baby during the workday, now that he’s back to work, I can like drop the baby in his lap while I go to the bathroom, or I need to make lunch, can you just hold on while you’re on this call, and usually it works out. And otherwise, it’s like you’re saying we don’t have family nearby. So we don’t have that additional support. And with COVID, we can’t just like have friends kind of drop over and help out in different moments either. So yeah, I’m sure that it’s just so much harder for people right now with COVID just the width, the ways that things have been shifting and changing. But related to what you’re saying about having an adjusted or reduced work schedule. Before you know, when we were talking about this topic over email you mentioned, you know, looking at alternative schedules as a solution to being a working mother, how have you tell us more about how you’ve utilized that and how that’s kind of worked for you.

Lea Berry 17:36
So with the with after my first I was on a reduced schedule, which meant I was I was working Monday through Thursday, and I had Friday’s off. And that gave me the ability to do the things at home that I needed to do to fully show up for my family that did include those working like 80% schedule. So allowed me to be home for pickup at daycare. And it also allowed me that that flexibility on Fridays that I needed. Now the 80% schedule sometimes works for some may not work for others, because it does come with a 20% pay cut. And it was something that we were willing to do, we were able to financially pull off. I know it’s not like that for everyone. But I have to say that my mental health I think was worth a lot more than what it cost us, you know, to, to be able to pull that off together. So that really helped me feel like I have a handle on this. And then after, after having clear and coming back, I did work three days a week for the first month, month and a half. And then I’m on a like I would say alternative work schedule when it comes to hours. So they know if there’s time blocks. And you know, meetings that happen after four have to have prior approval. And then meetings generally start after a certain hour, which gives flexibility, frankly, to everybody, you know, who I work with, you know, so they don’t have to feel like they have to be on super early in the morning or up late at night. But I do clock out early and I do clock back in later at night to check and kind of do that more deep strategy work or like, you know, manager work that I can’t really do during the day with so many so many things happening and you know, so many things going on at the same time.

Maggie Germano 19:19
Yeah, I like that. And I like how there’s some creativity around like the approach instead of it being like an all or nothing where you’re either on maternity leave or you’re working full time. There’s opportunities to kind of be creative in that approach of like you said reducing your work schedule or just being being a little bit different with the hours that you’re taking. And I know that with so many jobs becoming remote now it’s it should be even more flexible. I think in just being able to like start earlier and earlier or start later and end later or come on and get off whenever makes sense and Even people who are not parents, I feel like there is an opportunity to be more flexible in that way. As long as you’re getting the work done and you’re being in the meetings, you need to be in like, why do we need to be so strict with this nine to five? I feel like there’s so much opportunity there.

Lea Berry 20:14
Exactly. Yeah, I’m completely with you. I think it’s such a win for parents and caregivers and non parents non caregivers to Yeah, absolutely.

Maggie Germano 20:23
Yeah. And was the flexible our approach, was that something that already existed in your organization that you heard about and took advantage of? Or was that something that you were like, this would be really helpful for me to like, get back into the, you know, into work, but have that flexibility? How did that kind of come about for you?

Lea Berry 20:43
Both, and I’ll kind of say this as when I negotiated the start for this, for GA, I had that conversation with the hiring manager who was like, the director, and I was very clear about what my working hours were, and what was going to work for my family. So I was like, these are the hours that work, I have this constraint, I can’t get around it unless you want to provide the childcare for me, I cannot, you know, go past the daycare pickup time, you know, I can’t do that. So we did, you know, come to an agreement as to what my working hours were then which were also a little bit different. And then when I came back from leave, the policy of ramping backup was in place, it was still fairly new. But I was able to extend that with conversations with my managers as well. So that was really great, where I was able to continue to work the hours that were needed, have that conversation, you know, with my manager, letting them know, if there’s something that’s falling through, you know, I can still continue to do the work. But there were some things that frankly, just like weren’t a high priority that could wait till the next day, right, I don’t need to work late to get those things done. And I think this was a really good opportunity for both of us to get really clear on what those things were.

Maggie Germano 21:55
Yeah, setting boundaries, and being really clear on what you can provide and what they can expect from you. Because I think that having boundaries, having clear expectations, it’s just so important, generally in life, but especially at work to have like, hey, if I say I’m not going to be online, after this time, I’m not going to be online after this time, and making sure that you stick to that so that your boss doesn’t actually start kind of pushing those boundaries forward for you. Yeah, and what kind of advice would you give to someone who maybe is afraid to have conversations like that at work?

Lea Berry 22:30
I would say, if you’re afraid the other person is probably also a little, I would say a little afraid for, of course, different reasons. But I think we are in our own heads about having that conversation, whether it’s announcing to your team like you’re expecting or adopting whatever that looks like, right. You know, we get nervous about what other people will think or say, But usually, it’s met with so much excitement. And I think we forget about that it is a celebration, it is a really, really great thing. When you do welcome someone into your family, right in whatever form you take that in. So I think for those who feel nervous about it kind of check in Is it because of something that is really like there that makes you not feel comfortable with that person. And if not, maybe you do need to go talk to somebody else. Maybe it is someone you trust, you know, who works at the company or organization appear another manager or mentor, whoever that may be, or even HR and just like have a conversation with them, so you can let them know and also broach that subject the best way that you feel comfortable. I can definitely say the first time I had to tell the team that I was praying, I was so nervous. And I remember thinking, oh God, gosh, I’m like shaking, and really nervous to tell my manager at the time I lead and looking back and like why was I nervous, he was so incredibly excited for me. And when the whole team found out in the room, everyone was just like, Oh my gosh, this is amazing. And they enjoyed spoiling me with way too many fatty foods during my pregnancy, which is probably the cause of all the weight gain I had. But they you know, I think people are so so much more happy to celebrate those things, you know, then then I think we we realize because I think, you know, I felt like, Oh gosh, is this going to impact somebody else? But I have to first and foremost think about, you know, how is this impacting me? Right? Like, you know, this is not just about the company, it’s also about my well being and, you know, you know, and showing up at my best and, you know, I realized that the company was a lot more supportive than I was, at first, you know, gonna give them credit for

Maggie Germano 24:37
that is So good to hear. And I think you’re right that hopefully, unless you’re at a really, really toxic place. Hopefully most people are going to tend towards being supportive and wanting to help you get through your pregnancy get through maternity leave and then come back and even more successful than you were before. And and I think it can be is your responsibility kind of if you think you’re going to have a family someday, if you don’t already, or if you think you’re going to add another kid to the family, and your job searching to make sure that you’re kind of choosing or seeking out organizations that are going to be friendly in that way, I know when my husband was searching for his current job, we were not trying to have a baby yet. But we knew that that was going to be happening down the line. And I was like, make sure they have maternity leave, like you have to work somewhere where you can take time off, do I don’t want to just be alone in the beginning. And so that was a big priority. And so that was something he always asked in interviews when it came to the benefits. So it sounded like that was something that you talked about to when you were at least accepting this current position. So what did that look like for you, when you were having those conversations?

Lea Berry 25:50
It was it felt very dramatic for me, because it was so important. We knew, like we were, we were getting ready to try again for our second. And of course, you know, like, you don’t know, when these things are going to happen. So I knew it was gonna be a priority. And the reason I was switching and wanted this role was to allow for that, like, you know, specific flexibility. So when I had the conversation, when final negotiations, I was very, very particular, very nitty gritty with the health and benefits that they offered, and what that look like. And I was like, let’s, let’s put this on the table. What does this look like? You know, um, do you have any examples of other people who’ve gone through this, and I had a chance to talk with now my matrix lead, she’s amazing. She’s also really incredible mom of two leading like, she’s like our VP of consumer operations. And we and I really appreciate her guidance on it, she has an even busier busier schedule than I do with two little ones about like a year older than, than my own. But she was able to kind of walk me through like, what those options look like, what the company was able to offer in some, of course, the downside. So to anyone who is like thinking about job searching, and family planning, as well, what I think is really helpful is to talk to other people at that company, who also have kids, and really see is this a place where I could really see myself having a family and being able to, to do that I usually will send you know, as I coach A lot of you know, I only coach really seekers who are going into technical roles after they come out of the the GA programs, and a lot of them increasingly are, they’re not waiting, you know, to start their career after they have a family. They’re like, No, I’m going to play my family and get the role that I want and continue on with my life. You know, like, that’s just their trajectory, which I just have to say is just amazing, right? And I’m, I’m very inspired by it. And the resources I send them are something like fairy god boss, you know, there, there are other websites where you have a chance to really see what are those maternity you know, you know, resources, and I have some who are also adopting. So I also do send them there, so they can see what the what the policies are for, you know, for caregivers as well. And anytime you can, if there is like a parent caregiver employee resource group available at your company, don’t be afraid to get involved with that. If they’re not active, or they could be doing more, that’s a really good chance for you to make a splash make some changes, because they can have a lot of influence over the policies and procedures of the company as well. So if you want to grow in the current role you’re in or grow the company, but see, it’s maybe lacking a little bit, you can definitely take that as an option. And, you know, for those who are job searching, you know, the probably the most common question I get is when do I disclose, because there’s this idea that I’m holding in this really big, deep, dark secret, if I’m expecting or planning to get pregnant right away, and having to tell the employer as well as probably something I think that’s so top of mind for all of us, we get I also felt that way, but felt very self conscious about it. And I feel like other people feel that way too. But as long as you are doing their research on the company, you see the benefits they work for what it is that aligned with your family, then, you know, proceed, like move forward, put yourself forward for that your employer will be supportive of you. And they they do want to celebrate in that because it means you know, we know working moms are amazing, they get they get stuff done, I don’t purse on here, but you know, they know that they’re an investment worthwhile because when women come back from leave or caregivers come back from any type of leap, they work really, really hard. And the data does show that so it is a worthwhile investment to have, you know, to have having, you know, having expectant parents, like on board.

Maggie Germano 29:35
Yeah, I totally agree. And, you know, we’re we’re not just living in a vacuum when we’re at work, like our whole lives matter all the time. You know, we’re we bring who we are to work we bring, you know, our children, especially with a lot of people working from home, like having their kids kind of on their lap sometimes. So I think Yeah, the more and more that employers start being really kind and respectful and flexible when it comes to making room for working parents, I think the better off we’ll all be. And I liked what you said about getting involved in any like, group within your company that’s working on policies related to parents, because just because it is a certain way at your organization now doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. I think if you’re putting pressure on your employer to add leave, I know with my husband’s company, they had it. So that maternity leave was 12 weeks and paternity leave was six weeks. And people were like, excuse me, I would, I would also like to be home, like with my partner for 12 weeks instead of just having half the time and, and if even specified, like, you had to have physically given birth in order to get the 12 weeks instead of, you know, adopting or doing something else. And so there was enough of a stir going on, when people found that out that they changed it immediately. They’d give everyone automatically 12 weeks, and no, no, no rules around, like which parent you are or anything like that. So it was like it changed right away because enough people spoke out about it. And so I think not just accepting that things are the way they are is a really important lesson too.

Lea Berry 31:20
I love that. And I’m very passionate about everyone just getting the same thing, no matter how long you’ve been at a company, what level you are, you have the same leave as everybody else, I think that is just, I feel very passionate about that. You know, and I think it just, it really just puts the value on no matter what your role is in caregiving, like, You matter, and you deserve the time off to be home, because that is that is not free time, that is working time with your family.

Maggie Germano 31:47
Yeah, and, and you’ll be better off if you get that time to whether it’s the emotional benefit, that you’re getting the physical benefit from being able to rest and take care of yourself or be there to take care of your partner. I think families flourish more when both people are home, you know, if there is if there are two parents, and I think that that has been shown and as long as companies and like, you know, the work industry just catches up to that, the better off it will all be I feel like there will be less turnover, you know, women will probably be more likely to stay in the workforce, if they have that kind of support. And they are able to take time off the way they need. And they don’t feel like they’re gonna get fired if they take the time off that they’re even being given. So it’s better, it’s better for everybody, it’s better for the employers to I feel like productivity goes up as well. Yes, all of that, Maggie, all of that. So is there anything else we haven’t touched on when it comes to whether you’re job searching while you’re pregnant or job searching, when you already have a family or just preparing to take that time off? While you’re already you know, working somewhere, anything that was a really helpful lesson for you or advice you give to other folks that hasn’t come up yet.

Lea Berry 33:04
Um, actually, I’m going to touch on one thing, which is like career planning for yourself personally, when you do have a family, what’s next after because I think you get into the mode of being a caretaker. And it’s very easy just to kind of go day in and day out with your role and switching between, okay, I’m at my job, okay, I’m home, okay, I’m here. And I hear it from a lot of other moms, well, this is not the time to make moves, it’s the time to coast. But that’s not a line of thinking that I can necessarily adopt for myself, it doesn’t work, right, I’m continuously building my skills. I’m up for promotion, right now I’m pushing forward on it. And you know, putting myself up for opportunities. And the reason being that there’s no reason I need to slow down because I can I can be at the next level with responsibilities. And my family or I can also stay where I am with a lot of responsibilities still. Right and a family. And, you know, for me, you know, I have always been very passionate about like leading a team leading and, you know, kind of like seeing seeing that through and, you know, I want my family to support that, right. So I want my girls to grow up and see mom is still pursuing her career. And that’s very important for me, because I was very lucky to see that growing up as well. And that had a really big impact on me. So, you know, if you know, don’t think like you have to put a pause or coast if that doesn’t work for you.

Maggie Germano 34:29
Yeah, I really like that like being able to still pursue your goals and live your values. Even if you have had this huge life change and you have this added responsibility and identity as a mother that you don’t automatically have to downshift in your career if that’s not what you want. I really I think that’s a good lesson.

Lea Berry 34:49
It is if you need to, I’m giving permission that if you need to hire somebody to help you and you can financially do it is worthwhile. It is worth your time to have more time for yourself so you can show up at your Best at work and at home.

Maggie Germano 35:02
Totally agree. So how can folks get in touch with you if they want to learn more about what you do at ga or they just want to ask any follow up questions about this conversation? How can folks get in touch with you?

Lea Berry 35:14
Thank you. And yeah, and everyone, if you, you know, something resonated him questions for me, I would be like, happy to chat, you can find me on LinkedIn easiest platform liberi and LTI, b e r r y, and I should shouldn’t be the only one. I think that pops up in the search. But you’ll you’ll see me I work at generalism Lee, I am the outcomes manager and career coach there. And so add me, send me a message. And you know, I look forward to continuing the conversation with you.

Maggie Germano 35:44
Great, well, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I know you have a lot of experience, both as a career coach and as a mother yourself. So I really appreciate you sharing your time.

Lea Berry 35:54
And I am so thankful for the invitation Maggie is always such a pleasure to chat with you. And I always love collaborating with you too. So thank you. I really appreciate the forum,

Maggie Germano 36:05
of course.

Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. If you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like to go even deeper. Join the new money circle community. In this safe intersectional feminist space. We will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit to learn more and to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at To learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings or just to read my blog visit You can also follow me on instagram and twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye