Prepping for Maternity Leave as a Creative Business Owner
I’m officially 2 weeks away from my due date with a little girl, our first! With baby due soon, I’ve been planning and thinking about how this season is going to affect my business.
When I started looking for guidance a few months ago from other self-employed creatives or business owners, I found there weren’t a lot of posts or helpful guides. Everything is pretty geared towards those working for bigger companies, leaving those of us running creative businesses to figure it out on our own.
So in an effort to start a better conversation around this topic, today I’m sharing what I’ve done to prep so far and some tips I’ve found from fellow mamas.
This is my first little one and I feel lucky that I have a super close friend who has 2 kids and also runs a creative business. I took a lot of advice and ideas from her and even just watching what her day to day looks like to know what to expect. I’m also not a super planner. I’m more of a “go with the flow and figure it out” sort of person. But with all of that being said, here’s what I considered when prepping my creative business for maternity leave this fall!
How I prepped my creative business
for a maternity leave.
Set some goals
Before you can plan anything, you have to figure out what you want. If this is your first little one (like me) then you don’t really know what to expect going into it. But I found it helpful to talk with Aaron and set some general goals about my maternity leave and what I was comfortable with. Set goals for things like:
How much time you want to take off
How much you want to save to pay yourself in those weeks or months
A goal for any passive or consistent income that you’ll make even while not working
As a note: most mamas I talked to said to plan for MORE time off than you think you’ll want! You can always come back to work early.
Prep your business and clients
Once you know your goals, you have to let everyone know what yo expect. I think the biggest source of business stress during a maternity leave would be to feel like your team or clients don’t know what to expect and you don’t feel like you can fully step away from everything.
Start mentioning maternity leave early — to any new or current clients who will be affected by the schedule.
Share about it on social media and newsletters so people know. This sets up boundaries and expectations for your community about how much (or little) your business will be running in that time.
Get systems in place for your business now: auto email responders, newsletter sequences to run while you’re gone, pre-scheduled content to post, etc.
For me, I had plans of prepping a lot of content + newsletters for my time away, but that just didn’t happen. And I’m okay with it! It can definitely be scary to think that if you just leave your businesses for a while, it will lose momentum and people will no longer want to work with you or buy from you. But having a few systems in place and sharing about your maternity leave with your community, I think, can ease that worry.
book or plan for coming back
Set a goal for when you return to work. Do you want to have a new project(s) lined up to start? Or maybe you want to have a new product line ready to launch at that time to drum up some sales. Figure out what’s going to be manageable and work for you!
Schedule 1 or 2 projects for when you want to come back
Onboard and set up the invoices & payments so that you can come back to income
Touch base with them about how/if they can hear from you while you’re gone
This was the biggest thing that I did to help ease the stress / worry of taking time off. Knowing that I have some income coming in during my months off, as well as 1 big project to start in January is great. It nice to know that when I do get back to work, I’ll be able to start making income again, right away, instead of a few weeks or month into the new year (as my business builds back momentum).
Use this time to reevaluate your business
The most useful thing I think you can do when prepping for a maternity leave, is to use it as a reset button for your business. Again, for me, I’ve spent the last 6 months mulling over some changes in how I want my business to fit into my life and what exactly lights me up. I have a friend who was feeling super burnt out by her business & decided to take a full year off with her babe. At the end of that time, she reevaluated if she truly loved what she was doing and how it could fit into her life more realistically.
Look at what’s working and what’s not? How have the last 3, 6 and 12 months felt?
How do you want hours/life to look with a little one? This is big for me! I don’t want to be working 40/hr weeks.
Do you need to pivot or take a new direction in business?
Make sure that your business fits into the vision that you have for your LIFE. And you’re not just trying to fit your life in around your business!
As a last note…
Unfortunately in the US, government programs for paid maternity leave aren’t really great, by any standard. Even for those of you who are employed full-time by big companies. I did want to mention though - that if you’re self employed, you can apply for State Disability Leave for your time off! This might be different state-to-state but I wanted to mention it. At least in California, you have to join and pay into the program (based on your yearly income) for 6 months before you can make a maternity leave claim. So if it’s something you might consider, look into that earlier rather than later!
Also, here’s what some fellow creative mamas told me about their experience running a business & having a baby (or babies!)
“First, prioritize your health! Second, automate everything you can: your emails to clients (or hire someone to answer them for you), house cleaning, groceries, etc. Third, set super low expectations for the first two months. The first two months are SO HARD and it feels like it will never end. I wish someone had told me this so I saw a finish line. But it’s still an amazing 2 months. Cry-because-you’re-so-happy amazing.” — Dana, Between Sleep & Awake Films
“I stopped accepting new clients about 3 months out. And set up an “Out on Maternity leave” email reply. Unplug for your maternity leave. Enjoy your time and don’t have anything to worry about work wise.” — Jenna, White & Salt
“For a product based business — do a special or deal before you leave to encourage customers to order now.” — Brittany, Viklund Made
So that’s my plan! I know though that things might be completely different with baby girl actually arrives. And I think the biggest thing is to be open to the ebb and flow that (I’m sure) comes with life with a newborn AND a creative business.
If you have any other helpful tips or things you did, be sure to leave a comment below and I’ll keep adding to this post to make it more helpful for future mamas!