As a new mom who is currently on maternity leave I thought I’d share some tips for taking maternity leave for self employed entrepreneurs from what I’ve learned first hand and from other self employed moms. Having a baby is truly the greatest gift, but when you work for yourself it often means that you don’t usually get time off and if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. But with a little planning you can (hopefully) pull off at least a little bit of time to bond with your new little one. My own experience and expectations were that my baby was due at the end of June and my plan was to finish up with all client work by the end of May so I could take off June and July. Well that didn’t work out when my son showed up in March and I was totally unprepared! I want to help you plan out and be able to take a maternity leave using the tips below.
Save Up Ahead of Time. If you have a little extra coming in, or you can cut some expenses for a few months, save it! If we decide to have more children my goal will be to have two months worth of income saved up so that I can take two (or more) months off without worrying about having an income and paying bills.
Plan Early. In case you didn’t notice, my baby came super early. While I don’t think everyone needs to plan to deliver over three months early, it’d be good to have everything squared away at least a month in advance just in case. With everything planned in advance you can relax and if baby comes a bit early everything is good. Plus, I’ve heard that the third trimester, especially towards the end, is exhausted and frustrating. I wouldn’t know because I didn’t even hit the third trimester, but it’s my guess that it would be a nice time to cut yourself a little slack.
Create Passive Income. If you’re able to, try to create a few streams of passive income before you go on maternity leave. That way, you’re still bringing in a bit of money with little to no work. Even if it’s just a few extra hundred bucks a month, it’s something! Try ebooks, printables, templates, affiliate income or whatever else you can put a little time into ahead of time and continue to receive income from without really doing much work.
Easing Back In. Give yourself time to ease back in. Having a new baby means being on call 24/7. One day your bundle of joy might give you several hours of uninterrupted work time and the next your crying, fussy kiddo may not even give you half an hour to get anything else done. Cut yourself a little slack and don’t expect to jump back into those 8+ hour days anytime soon without help. My plan for going back is to only take on one client at a time for the first month or two and then reevaluating after that to see if I can comfortably take on more while still being there for my son.
Most importantly: ENJOY BABY! You will not get these days again. Since you’ve worked hard to give yourself this time off, really take advantage of it. Leisurely naps while baby naps (if you’re lucky), cuddles on the couch while you catch up on Orange Is The New Black, two hour long neighborhood walks, whatever makes you and that baby of yours happy. Your business and your clients will be waiting when you get back. Promise!
Do you have any tips or ideas for handling maternity leave (or paternity leave!) as a self employed entrepreneur? I'd love to hear your suggestions.