As most women who’ve had children will tell you, transitioning back into work from maternity leave is often anything but seamless. Between days spent catching up on an avalanche of unanswered emails and nights characterized by little sleep and a lot of baby rocking, to call this transitional time “hectic” would be an understatement.
The key to nailing this transition as smoothly as one possibly can? Working for an employer that actually cares about supporting new moms and families. Certainly, Aine Abruscati has found that to be true of her time at OnDeck. In 2016, she joined OnDeck as its Senior Manager of Communications & Culture while five months pregnant with her first child, and today, she’s recently returned to work from maternity leave with baby number two.
With the support of OnDeck behind her, Abruscati and her family have been acclimating to their new life pace and everything it entails on both the work and home fronts. She gave Fairygodboss a glimpse into what, for one day, that pace looks like, and her best tips for getting it all done.
Who: Aine Abruscati
What: Senior Manager of Communications & Culture at OnDeck
Where: New York, New York
My four-and-a-half month old wakes up and refuses to be put down in the crib. He woke up two hours ago and had a bottle, so I know he is not hungry. After countless efforts, I end up sitting in the chair in his room until 4:00 a.m. when I successfully put him down and go back to my bed for a little more slumber.
My alarm goes off. I hit snooze twice and manage to get out of bed 20 minutes later. I shower, plug in the percolator, open the shades in the house, and attempt to look like a presentable human being with the aid of a lot of makeup and hair products. My goal is to finish getting ready by 6:30 a.m. so my husband can get in the shower and be finished by the time we’re ready for breakfast, since it’s the only meal during the week during which we eat altogether.
My two year old wakes up. I let him watch a few videos of himself on my phone while I change the baby’s diaper and get his bottle ready. Then we all head into the kitchen where I get my toddler his Danimals monkey yoghurt and we watch “Sesame Street” in the living room.
While my toddler dances to the “Letter of the Day” and the baby tries to roll on his side on the mat, I gulp down coffee, get everyone’s bowl of cereal on the table (maybe with some fruit on the side if we managed to go grocery shopping) and quickly make lunch for my husband and I. We’re trying to be better about bringing lunch, but we still can’t manage to make it the night before (which would obviously be way easier).
Family meal time! We just started the baby on solids. He hates the rice cereal (who can blame him) but it’s nice for all four of us to be together around the table. I’m usually up and down, though, while I try to empty the dishes in the sink so it’s not a nightmare for the nanny who watches the baby, lay out my toddler’s clothes for daycare, and grab my shoe from my room. (Yes, that’s singular — I fractured two toes while walking into my kitchen wall the last week of my maternity leave, so my right foot is in the most fashion-forward space boot you can imagine.)
I kiss everyone goodbye as I dash out the door. It’s a 10-minute drive to the train station if I manage to avoid red lights, which never happens. Parking is a nightmare, so I usually spend five minutes looking for a spot, and then I have 10-minute walk to the platform.
I do my best to catch the earlier trains, but this is usually the one I make. While I hate the commute, this is my alone time. I read my New York Times (I get it delivered daily and I’ll never change) and catch up on email, texts, etc. I also make sure to look at my calendar so I can best prepare for the day including any discussions I need to facilitate or presentations I need to revise (or create!) last minute.
At my desk and raring to go. It’s a meeting-lite day for me and my first call isn’t until 11:30 a.m., so I revise copy for several internal communications, have a cup of coffee with some peanut butter on the side, and work on designing our Inclusion roadmap for 2019, which includes speaking with potential partners.
Monthly check-in call with Fairygodboss!
One of my closest friends who I haven’t seen in four years is in town for a business trip and she has 30 minutes to catch up over coffee today. I go to Maison Kayser (because this seems as good an excuse as any), grab two lattes and a pain aux raison, and meet her in Bryant Park where we embrace for five minutes and talk for 25 about our lives.
Return to the office, scarf down my salad, and take a couple of meetings around upcoming sponsorship opportunities for our Denver team, which is expected to grow by 15 percent within the next five months – one with Women Who Code and the other with Make-a-Wish Foundation. One of the things I love about OnDeck is the passion our team members have for community. Whether it’s creating networking, learning or philanthropic giving opportunities, we are always switched on.
Part of my job is focused on content management for our employer brand. OnDeck recently surpassed $10 billion in lending to small businesses – a huge win for our company and our customers! I spend some time making content updates to platforms like our Careers site and LinkedIn profile to reflect this milestone.
Even though I’m at my coffee threshold for the day, I catch up with the new coordinator on my team to see how she is settling in at the company, learn about her interests and career aspirations, and just connect. I am guilty of rescheduling these types of “meetings,” especially on Mondays when I’m cranky and tired, but they are so important – speaking from my own experience, it feels good when colleagues take time to invest in you and your personal relationships. And then it becomes contagious.
If my meetings are finished and I have wrapped up any pressing work, I try to leave at 5 p.m. so I get to spend an hour with the kids before they go to sleep. I’m so fortunate to work with a team that challenges me and holds me accountable but also allows me to be with my family when I need. Tonight I catch the 5:17 p.m. train and finish some email before falling asleep with my mouth open on the train.
I walk in the door and my house is a disaster! But my sons are in good form. I am so fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family and my parents, who live two minutes away, are a huge part of our lives. They take care of the kids in the late afternoon until my husband and I get home. The baby is fed and bathed, and my toddler is fed and ready for… dancing! My husband walks in shortly after me and we hear about everyone’s day. My parents leave, my husband takes the baby and gives him a bottle while I get my toddler’s bath ready.
Once bath time is done and my son is in pajamas, we all read a few books together before we go our separate ways. We breed horrible sleepers, so my husband stays with my toddler until he falls asleep in his room and I rock and sing the baby to sleep in his room.
I’m ready to collapse but of course this is where the evening begins! My husband and I just started a new routine several weeks ago where one of us goes to the gym while the other person tidies up and cooks dinner, and then we alternate the next night. But we’re both pooped and neither of us wants to exercise. We change out of our work clothes, divide and conquer putting toys away and washing bottles, and then whip together a big salad to complement the loaf of brioche that we shove in our mouths while we clean.
We usually sit in the kitchen for dinner, without our phones, and talk (or grunt depending on how tired we are!) but the Emmy awards are on tonight and I want to watch so we sit in the living room and chat about our day during commercials.
We both decide to call it a night so we set up the coffee, shut off the lights and head to bed…just in time to hear my toddler waking up from a bad dream. I head into his room to reassure him everything is OK and then make it to my bed. I would love to say I wrote in my journal or read one of the five books gathering dust on my nightstand, but instead I check email and news headlines before I fall asleep while holding my phone.
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