Photo Credit: Kristen Tatti
Kristen Tatti is Communications Manager at OtterBox who gave birth to her daughter in December. Now that she’s back at work after a three-month leave, we asked her to share her experiences and insights with us:
Did you work with someone to create a plan?
I met with team members that were taking on projects to bring them up to speed and within a month of my anticipated due date, I brought them with me to any meetings related to the project. This didn’t work as seamlessly as I would have liked on all projects because I went into labor a week and a half before my due date, so I had a few loose ends to tie up still. I could have avoided those by procrastinating less.
On a tactical level, I created a shared document on Google drive for the team where they could see the assignments while I was out and also take notes so I could easily see what had occurred when I was back. I also included detailed instructions for who to reach out to about what projects on my out-of-office autoreply.
For me, the most important part of letting go while on leave was having complete trust in my team. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that you can quickly put into place – it’s something that we’ve built over months and years. But because I had trust in my team, I was able to completely unplug and spend the much-needed bonding time with my newborn.
Did you check in with work while on leave?
Since I procrastinated, I had a few things I had to finish/transition immediately after giving birth. But once I had those out of the way, I didn’t check email once. My team did come to visit the baby and, of course, I asked for an update. Other than that, I completely disconnected. And it was wonderful.
How difficult was it to ease back into the work environment?
Going back to work wasn’t as hard as I had anticipated. In my mind, I thought I’d be coming back to a completely new environment and feel totally behind. But things were blessedly the same. I was able to pick up where I’d left off easily. It’s so strange to go from being with someone literally 24/7 to only getting to spend waking time with them a few hours per day. I was adamant that I would leave work by 5:30 p.m. at the latest so that I could get home to give baby her afternoon feeding and spend a couple hours with her before bedtime. I let my boss know this was important to me upfront and have received the utmost support.
The other big challenge is pumping. It’s easy to get caught up in meetings and before you know it, you’ve gone five hours without pumping. I’ve made a goal of pumping three times per day, which often means I have to decline meeting requests or call in from the ‘mother’s room.’