Prepping for a maternity leave as a small business owner
I am officially on maternity leave for the next 3 months and waiting patiently for this sweet baby girl to make her appearance. Being able to take a maternity leave from my business is a huge blessing. But it can also be a scary thing to step away from your business for a month or two without feeling like it will fall apart. Even though I am looking forward to the next 3 months to be able to soak up all the newborn snuggles and family time, I am sure I won't be able to completely stay away from my business either. But in order to take an actual maternity leave, there were systems and plans I put into place beforehand so that I could step away without feeling like my business was going to fail while I was gone.
I am a planner by nature, and I plan for everything. Planning for a maternity leave is no different. It's all about thinking ahead and making sure you have everything lined out for the time that you will be off so that you aren't left feeling scattered and rushed before your leave starts or like you have to jump back into work early to manage chaos. For me, I made a master list of things that needed to be done before my maternity leave started, as well as a few things I needed to do while I was on leave in order to make my return easier too. This might look like finishing client work, filling all shop orders, prepping your blog and social media with content, scheduling newsletters in advance, and setting up an auto reply for your email.
Make it known
Taking a maternity leave from your business will be much easier if you make it known that you are going to be out of the office for a certain amount of time. I started letting people know a couple of months ago that I would be gone at the end of the year and to expect a slower respond time from me. I also let current and potential clients know about it so that I would be able to wrap up all current projects and not book any new ones until I was back in the office regularly. I also made a note on my website contact page that stated when I will be on maternity leave so that people are aware of it before contacting me too. And now that I am on maternity leave, I have an email auto responder up that tells them I am out of the office more right now and includes helpful information for the most frequently asked questions I get in emails.
Prep for your return
Like I said earlier, I made a list of things I needed to do before I return from maternity leave to make things a little bit easier once I am back in the office. I might have been a little too ambitious with this list, but I wanted to try to accomplish some things for my own business while I had down time from clients along with getting organized for the new year so that when I did return to client work, I would be ready to jump in full force. I also plan to answer emails a couple times a week during my leave so that I don't come back to an overwhelming inbox. This will look different for every business, but you may need to do some organization too so that your return can be less stressful.
Enjoy your time
The point of a maternity leave is to take time off from your work so that you can be fully present with your newborn and adjust to life with this new baby. I decided to take 3 months off because I wanted time to recover, rest, and enjoy our new little one. I wanted to be able to spend time with my family and adjust to life as a family of four before going back to work. Plus, I know it will help me to be refreshed and ready to do great new things with my business when I return. It's important to enjoy your time on maternity leave. Don't stress out about your business while you are gone. If you took the time to prepare for your leave, it will be fine. Even if you didn't, it will be fine. Enjoy all those little snuggles that you can before they are gone.
Taking a maternity leave for so long can be stressful. I fear that my business will slip while I am away and I will have to spend time building it up again when I return. I fear that I won't have any clients when I come back and that things will change in those short 3 months. But ultimately, I know that this is where I need to be right now - holding babies and resting my body. My business is very important to me, but my babies are more important and this time away is what I need right now.