Are you expecting a new little one but worried how you will manage to take a maternity leave as a mompreneur? Mama, I’m here to tell you that you can take time off to cuddle your new little one without sacrificing your growing service-based business.
I’ve successfully taken maternity leave twice since starting my business. The first time was by accident; I foolishly thought as a first-time mom that I could just keep working like normal after my baby was born. When I had an unplanned c-section and a tiny premie in the NICU, that changed. I quickly realized that my business had to take a backseat to myself and my family for a season. Thankfully I had amazing clients who were very understanding (and one who even continued to pay me during my time off).
When I was pregnant with my second child, I knew that I wanted to be able to take a maternity leave to adjust to having two kids (14 months apart because we’re crazy like that). I also knew that I really should prepare my business this time. These steps are what helped me take a month off from my business without stressing about money or business growth.
1. Save Your Money
Can I be real frank here? Taking time off from being self-employed means not getting paid. Unless you have a form of passive income, you won’t be making money during your maternity leave. One of the best ways you can prepare your family’s finances is to save money throughout your pregnancy to cover your time off.
Because planning is useless if you don’t have a target, take some time to figure out how much money you need to save.
- How much time would you like to take off?
- How much money would you have made during that time?
- How long do you have to save the money? (in months or weeks)
Take your answer from #2 and divide it by your answer from #3. That will give your savings goal, either per month or week depending on what you choose.
2. Minimize Your Expenses
I know, another not fun bit of advice. But if you’re going to save enough money to cover your time off, then you’re going to need practical ways to save money each month. This might mean not eating out or cutting down on your grocery bill. It might mean cutting out your cable bill or making coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks.
The things that we did to cut down on our expenses were:
- Prep a month’s worth of freezer meals for my maternity leave so we wouldn’t need to eat out when I didn’t feel up to cooking.
- Cut out all of our monthly subscription services.
- Made sure we stayed debt-free so we didn’t have looming credit card payments.
- Stocked up on all necessary items during sales.
- Cloth diapered (two kids in diapers… I know!)
3. Provide Superior Service
The main reason why my business survived my first unplanned maternity leave is because I had great relationships with my clients. I had spent two years building up a reputation of providing excellent customer service. I had gone above and beyond for my clients over and over again. The reward for all of my hard work was clients who were more than willing for me to take time off, and happily welcomed me back when I was able to return.
If you have a service-based business, then you need to make sure that customer service is at the heart of your business. It’s hard to stay at the top of your game with the fatigue and crazy hormones of pregnancy. But in those moments when you feel like you might lose it, try to remember that the end goal is spending a few weeks cuddled up with your new baby. Hopefully that will be enough to keep your hormones in check!
4. Hire a Subcontractor if Needed
Every business is different. Thankfully I had a business that could just put projects on hold for the time being. But you may run a business that doesn’t have that luxury. If that’s the case, then you may need to hire a subcontractor for your maternity leave. This would allow your business to continue to function without you working.
- Hire someone you trust to do your job just like you would. The last thing you need is to have to spend your maternity leave putting out fires.
- Train your subcontractor a couple of months before your due date. Take it from the mom of a premie- you just never know!
- Still save money throughout your pregnancy. While you’ll be having money come in from during your time off, you’ll also be paying someone else out of that money.
- Communicate with your clients about the change. Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to customer service.
5. Ease Your Way Back In
The biggest lesson I learned from my first maternity lesson was that I couldn’t jump back in at the end of it. Life as a work at home mom with a newborn was messy and sometimes really hard. I eased my way back into my business, adding one client back at a time.
What this looks like for you may be very different from me. Maybe if you have a subcontractor, you start taking jobs back one at a time. If that’s the case, there will be a period of time you both are working on your business. If you have a project based business, perhaps you’ll take on less projects at first. You can always increase your workload a few months down the line when your baby is a little older.
A Maternity Leave is Possible, Mama!
Even as a mompreneur with a service-based business, you can take time off to spend time with your new baby. It takes some preparation, planning, and forethought. But with these five practical tips, your business will be able to survive your maternity leave. And your clients will be there waiting for you when you’re ready to get back to business!
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Time blocking is my sanity-saver for balancing a growing business and growing family. Grab my free blank weekly schedule along with my top time management tips for work at home moms. I know balancing work and family is hard, but with these tips, you’ll be on your way to enjoying the time with your kids while still growing your business!