Hello, world!

On behalf of the entire Josie team, welcome to the launch of our company! Here at Josie, our focus is on empowering the transition into working parenthood. We believe that periods of transition offer some of life’s greatest opportunities to drive positive change and personal growth; for parents returning to work from leave, this is definitely one of those times. Believe me, I know.

In 2018, I gave birth to my son, Theo. I cobbled together 12 weeks of leave, which I thought would be an eternity. In reality, the time flew by and before I knew it, I was diving back into a busy consulting career. There were highs and lows. Being on the road gave me the rare opportunity to sleep through the night, and I occasionally caught glimpses of my pre-baby self as I suited up for meetings. On the other hand, despite being one of our firm’s largest accounts, the project was severely understaffed, and my boss at the time (who was a major advocate of mine) announced he was taking a step back.  In addition, I learned that our small team had several resignations during my absence.  And then the pumping experience on the road couldn’t have been more stressful.  Pumping in airport bathrooms, airplanes, client closets – all for 3 – 4 ounces of breastmilk that I would carefully pack on ice and bring home with me in the carry on. 

Needless to say I was not prepared for any of this – I sort of “let it happen” to me, taking a reactive approach to each piece of news, scrambling to survive each day. 

In 2020, I gave birth my daughter, Josie. I thought I knew what to expect, but this time around I experienced postpartum depression that weighed on me for months. Compounding this, the return came with a rejected request for a raise despite exceeding my performance targets pre-leave.  I was also “layered” within my org chart (aka, my boss squeezed another boss between him and me, effectively giving me a post-mat leave demotion).  While I wasn’t happy with the situation, I was not equipped to speak up about it – in my mind, a lot of rationalization (“I didn’t deserve that raise, I was out for 5 months”,) self-doubt (“I’m not up to date on industry trends to do my job”), and surrender (“I don’t want to fight this, I’m exhausted already”) was happening.  So I just let it happen to me – again.  

For both returns, I was resentful but also did not know how to ask for help, leading to a negative thought spiral that continued for months after I was back.  At the same time, I did not know who I could turn to for help – most of my colleagues did not have young children, and those who did had stay-at-home partners. 

A big part of my identity had shifted and I was struggling to show up as the confident, self-assured, career-driven woman I once was.  My contributions while meaningful did not give me the same nourishment or satisfaction.  I took on assignments and responsibilities that did not align to my values or needs.  I found it difficult to be present, motivated, or focused.  The difficult return had a snowball effect that kept building well beyond those early weeks back.

As time went on, I started to reflect on my return-to-work situations.  I did some research and began speaking to other parents.  I quickly learned that a) I was not alone, and b) this likely could have gone a lot better had I been more intentional and empowered during those periods of transition.  A few things stood out to me in terms of what I uncovered, and the consultant in me couldn’t help but come up with this 4-part framework to organize common return-to-work challenges:

  • Mental
    • 61% of mothers do not feel mentally or emotionally prepared to return to work after maternity leave
    • 10.4% of first time fathers experience depression between the first trimester and one year postpartum
  • Physical
    • The average new mom works for 15 weeks before her baby starts sleeping through the night, so she’s super tired for about 105 days at the office.
  • Career
    • 25% of moms feel they won’t be up to date on the skills required to do their jobs when returning from leave
    • 23% say they think it’s impossible to combine a career and motherhood
    • Research shows that moms who take longer maternity leaves are viewed as less committed employees, are promoted less often, and make less money
    • 1 in 5 men report feeling afraid of losing their job if they take the full amount of paternity leave available to them
  • Family
    • Most mothers who are either equal or primary income earners are shouldering most of the household family responsibilities – creating and managing calendars, scheduling medical appointments, managing finances, etc.
    • Paternal depression is associated with decreased positive parenting behaviors (e.g., affection, positive involvement, and supportiveness)

This is just a sampling of what I found, but it’s clear that the transition to “working mom” is rife with challenges…and opportunities to do better.  That’s why I started Josie.

Named after my daughter, Josie is a highly personalized return-to-work experience that combines emotional support, executive coaching, mental preparedness, and useful tools to create a more empowered and intentional evolution to working parenthood.  We help new parents take ownership of their return – a more proactive approach to this critical transition.  Importantly, our program engages both working parent and employer, ensuring a transition that is positive, welcoming, and – ultimately – results in a best-in-class environment for employees with families.    

Thanks for stopping by…we can’t wait to tell you more in the coming weeks!

-Michelle, Founder & CEO

*Sources:  Motherly State of Motherhood Survey 2021 & 2022; BetterUp, “Advice on going back to work after maternity leave,”; Indeed.com, “Mother’s Day Report: What Do Working Moms Need From Employers to Succeed?”; Harvard Business Review, “Do Longer Leaves Hurt Women’s Careers?”; Calvin Williams: Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health

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