don't call me; I'll call you. stay in the loop without losing your peace

Make Work Suck Less

New this week from the home office

Hey Reader,

Who's got a great countdown clock widget cause ya girl has just FOUR WEEKS LEFT til maternity leave!!

I can't wait.... to delete work Slack and email from my phone.

When I went out in 2021 for maternity leave, I told my team to "pretend I'm dead," and I meant it.

I may be called the Queen of Boundaries for a reason.

This time around, I'm taking a slightly different approach that will still protect my time to recover and bond as a new family of four, AND that also doesn't keep me totally in the dark about things that will impact my role when I do go back.

So that's what we're chatting about this week: setting boundaries while you're on parental leave.

How to set boundaries while on parental leave to stay in the loop (without losing your peace)

Navigating parental leave brings its unique set of challenges that can make stepping away from work feel more daunting than it should. There's the all-too-common pitfall of becoming an indispensable crutch for a team that struggles to adapt in your absence, which can blur the lines between your critical bonding time with your newborn and unwarranted work obligations.

This period isn't a vacation; it's an essential phase for healing and connecting with your child, and you shouldn't feel compelled to keep the work wheels turning unless you choose to. Then there's the fear of losing grip on projects you've nurtured, worrying that your absence might lead to their derailment. Coupled with the struggle to truly disconnect—finding yourself peering into emails or Slack out of habit, only to be pulled into the minutiae of daily office dramas that, in reality, will resolve themselves without your intervention.

Crafting a parental leave communication plan will help you set clear boundaries and avoid these pitfalls while you’re out doing much more important things.

the fine line between "in the loop" and "in the weeds"

Remember my "pretend I’m dead" approach from my first maternity leave? I was happy to share #allthebabyphotos but I wanted literally nothing to do with anything work-related. Fast forward five months, I discovered the team's name had changed, our scope had dramatically pivoted, and we'd been through two huge org restructures. It was like showing up to a first day at work at a completely new job.

Yeah, let's tweak that.

We need a plan that keeps us informed about the big moves without dragging us into the daily soap opera. Because, let's be honest, who has time to care about Kevin from accounting's spreadsheet saga when you're mastering the art of functioning on zero sleep?

The paradox of parental leave is feeling disconnected from a world you've poured so much into while trying to savor irreplaceable moments at home. The trick? Setting boundaries that allow you to heal, bond, and occasionally glance at your professional horizon without being pulled back into the tide.

creating your VIP list for your inbox

Time to put on your OOO hat and decide who contacts you, how, when, and why while you’re on parental leave. “Don’t call me; I’ll call you” if you will. This time, let's aim for a Goldilocks communication plan: not too much, not too little, just right.

Here are questions to ask yourself to set contact preferences that let you stay in the loop without the overwhelm.

  • Who to hear from: Decide if updates should be VIP-only (manager, direct reports) or if you're opening the floor to anyone who misses your charming presence.
  • How to get the buzz: Emails are like postcards from the work world; they're there when you're ready to read them. Texts or calls? Only if the office is on fire, please.
  • What's worth a ping: What do I care enough about to be bothered while on parental leave (benefits/compensation updates, program updates, major team changes? My recommendation would be for your team to hold onto any drama that will resolve itself by the time you’ve mastered swaddling.
  • Schedule smart: How often do I want to hear from work? As things happen? Weekly? Monthly? Perhaps set a designated check-in time that doesn’t turn into a weekly meeting. Consider reqeusting a monthly “What did I miss?” newsletter. Think of it as your peek into the work world from your baby oasis.

don’t forget to document!

Make sure to include your communication preferences in your turnover plan, providing a clear guide for your team to follow in your absence. This ensures everyone understands your boundaries and how best to support you during this time.

tech detox tips

These are a few practical tips to help you manage the pull of work notifications while keeping an open channel for essential communication. That is: whatever YOU deem essential, because you have enough on your plate.

  1. Delete the apps. Removing work apps from your phone is like telling work, "It’s not you, it’s me... and the baby." Keep the line open for truly important updates, but remember, every notification is a test of your willpower to stay unplugged.
  2. Use focus time. I'm sure by now you've heard "sleep when the baby sleeps," and yes, that's great advice. Even better, don't wake the baby up with notification pings! Use your phone's focus time liberally to stay in the moment.
  3. Professional visibility lite. Pick a day each week to update LinkedIn or a quickly browse through professional networks to stay in the loop without the overwhelm.

Creating a parental leave communication plan shouldn’t feel like another job. With some upfront convo and a sprinkle of humor about your new "co-worker" (who just happens to drool a lot), you can enjoy this precious time knowing you'll return not to a pile of question marks, but to a team that's kept the light on for you.

Here's to parental leave that leaves you refreshed, not stressed about the work you’re stepping back into!

cool people doing cool shit


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next week in MWSL

Next week we're diving into the realities of the return. Let's be honest, by the time most parents head back to work (especially moms), you're still figuring out how to juggle ever-shifting feeding, pumping, and nap schedules with showering. Let alone an 8-hour work day.

I'm sharing practical tips and resources for making this next career transition as smooth as possible.

You got this.


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Hi! I'm Cassandra Babilya.

I’m a mom, certified career coach, ex-spy, and corporate culture leader. I'm driven to make work suck less by helping women break the burnout cycle, pivot with purpose, and thrive in their careers. I believe everyone deserves to wake up excited and energized for the day. Together, let's find the perspective you need to work, create, and build from a place of joy, not dread. #makeworksuckless

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