One of the only aspects of a traditional job that some of my girlfriends have that I envy is a proper maternity leave. It would be amazing to completely drop everything and to not think about work for 12 weeks while snuggling a sweet newborn. On the other hand, I can’t imagine then leaving my baby and going back to the 8-5 grind every day afterwards.
I posted this picture of me and Josie about 2 weeks postpartum. I think it resonated with so many mom business owners because this is what “normal” maternity leave looks like for many of us.
Like many mompreneurs, I didn’t enjoy a traditional maternity leave with either of my girls. But for me, responding to a few emails from the hospital bed is a small price to pay to enjoy the flexibility being a business owner has provided.
Now Josie is 3-months-old and I’ve survived my second round of juggling a new baby while running a profitable business. I have felt a bit more prepared this time around, thanks to lessons learned the first time + some extra prep. Here are my tips to planning for a maternity leave as a business owner:
Develop the right mindset.
As mompreneurs, we need to accept that we’ll probably never have a traditional maternity leave. I know you’re probably thinking “but, I have all this flexibility as a business owner!” Flexibility is one of those amazing perks of running your own business, but you know it doesn’t come without sacrifices.
Trust me, there will be lovely, superhero mornings when you’re rocking your newborn in one arm while typing away with the other. And then there will be those days you have to find a babysitter, take a shower, throw on something other than yoga pants and have a pep in your step for a last minute client meeting… with absolutely zero energy.
The reality is, no matter how much you prepare yourself for motherhood (reading all the books and blogs, delegating and prepping), every day is different. That’s why it’s so important to embrace that you won’t be able to completely unplug from work.
Seriously, just be OK with it! Some people will think you’re crazy for doing a little work or checking in on your business so soon after having a baby. And that’s OK. Not everyone is cut-out for being a mompreneur. But you are. And you will probably find yourself less stressed and enjoy more peace of mind if you do a little work and know everything is going well with your business.
I no longer feel guilty admitting that I actually enjoyed a little alone time, sipping coffee and answering emails in those early weeks.
Build a support system in advance.
Every mom – whether you run a business or not – needs to remember that we simply cannot do it all, even though it feels like we can.
Having a baby makes you realize just how much you are capable of. Before you know it, you’ll be running your business, managing multiple projects, and caring for your newborn, all on just a couple hours of sleep!
And sure, you can get by like this for a while… but not forever. So before you run yourself down and suffer from burn-out or worse, a major illness, plan to lean on your employees, family and friends during maternity leave.
If you are currently a one-woman show, consider hiring a virtual assistant or part-time contractor who can provide support while you’re on maternity leave. It’s worth the investment!
And be sure to set expectations with your husband about what your schedules will look like once a baby is in the mix. What happens if there is a work crisis or your nanny is sick? Having a game plan will make the entire transition so much smoother.
Also, don’t forget about making some time for yourself! Being at home with a new baby is exhausting- even more so while worrying about work or juggling some side projects. Schedule a recurring girls night once every couple of weeks or treat yourself to a reoccurring spa day and get it on your calendar!
Automate and delegate- at work and at home!
I’m a huge fan of automating and delegating as much as possible, even at home, so my free time can be spent enjoying my family, not cleaning the bathrooms or running endless errands.
Here are some of the personal things I delegate:
- House cleaning: private cleaning service
- Grocery shopping/meal delivery: Doorganics, Hello Fresh
- Lawn care: private lawn service
- Clothes shopping:
- Rent the Runway Unlimited -monthly for special event & work wardrobe
- Trunk Club -few times a year to get a seasonal style refresh
- Stitch Fix – about once a quarter to see if there are a couple new pieces to jazz up my wardrobe (Disclaimer: Check out my referrals links above for a discount to try these out but be careful not to buy more clothes than what you need or you’ll spend more time frustrated with a overstuffed closet and decision fatigue- not cool!)
My #delegationgoals include a chef to prepare meals for the week + a personal laundry service. #delegationgoals <– totally making that a thing!
And if there’s one thing you can count on, that is your inbox is going to keep filling up. So take it a step further and really take control of your email. Setting up automatic replies and drafting canned responses to your most frequent emails (Customer service, New client prospects, etc.) will save you so much time!
Set expectations for your clients.
A couple months before your due date, make sure to tell your clients that you plan to take some time for a maternity leave. In my experience, a client will know you are pregnant but won’t really understand what that means for your workload and availability. Let them know what to expect and who they should reach out to should they need something when you are not available. I did this by copying a team member on all important emails in those last few weeks before my due date, so she and the client were looped in on all details of a project.
It’s also important to set boundaries for your clients. Make it clear when you’ll be available and try to get clients comfortable with Skype, phone calls and email as much as possible before the baby arrives. Then it won’t feel like such a big transition.
While it might not be possible to totally check out during your maternity leave, a little prep, setting up systems and getting your team (both at work and at home) on board in advance, will help to make the transition to the 4th trimester as smooth as possible. And remember, the next time you’re wishing you could completely unplug from work- remind yourself that nothing is better than never having to go back to the 8-5 grind!
How are you preparing for motherhood? Help lift the mompreneur tide and share in the comments below your best tips to make the transition into maternity leave easier!