Maternity Leave: How It Went & What I’d Do Differently

Doors are open for business again!

My last post was written right before I had my first baby.  In it, I talked about how I told my clients I was pregnant and how I would take six weeks off.

The little Jedi is currently over 8 weeks old (born on May 23) and here’s an update on how my leave went.

 

Length of Leave

My six week return to work fell over the July 4th week and since a lot of my clients were taking that week off anyway, I decided to come back at the baby bassinetseven week mark and I think that was a great decision.  I began to feel more like myself at five weeks and at six weeks, she was falling into a more predictable rhythm.  By seven weeks she was sleeping a bit longer at night and I wasn’t so sleep deprived.  That extra week really seemed to make a difference.  So for the future, I will be taking seven to eight weeks off, not six.

Don’t get me wrong – you can definitely return to work earlier and I was super bored at times.  I was considering working again because I had nothing to do, but I knew that even though I had time to work, being so tired would only give a subpar performance with possible mistakes and I didn’t think my clients deserved that.

 

Current Workload

Even though I am at the eight week mark with her, I have not taken on my full workload of client’s yet.  I have only begun working with 4 clients again.  The assignments from my clients are also easier as things tend to slow down during the summer.  It’s been a nice transition but I hope to be back up and running fully by September.  I have found that I’m able to keep up with the work for the most part, getting to urgent tasks within 2-4 hours and anything that is not urgent, I wait until the evening when she’s asleep and my husband is home to help.

Unfortunately, I also had to make the hard decision of letting go of one client.  I made and received a lot of phone calls for him (it was probably 70% of my job) and I realized that’s not possible with my young baby.  She still cries a lot and is so unpredictable with her naps that I wouldn’t be able to schedule the calls either.  Maybe I was naïve, but I really wanted to wait and see what kind of baby I had because I thought I could keep up with the phone calls.  So many people told me that babies sleep a lot, unless your baby had colic.  Well, that was probably true for the first two weeks.  After that, she had no set nap schedule (still doesn’t) and cries when she’s bored, hungry, dirty diaper, etc.  The environment is not conducive for phone calls.  I was a little bummed about losing a client but I do realize that sometimes these types of things have to happen.  I couldn’t give his business my 100% and I can’t accept anything less than that.

 

Subcontractors

I was blown away by the support I had by my subcontractors.  I received stellar reviews for both and feel that I made good choices.  The VA community is amazing and I hope to keep these two people on for future projects.  Though training them did take time, it helped to know that I didn’t have to worry about two of my clients while I was out.

 

Keep the Baby Home or Not?

So many people have said, “Oh you own your own business and work from home?  How wonderful for when you have your child! You can be home baby girl bowwith her!”

I’ve found that for some reason, people equate working from home with being a stay at home mother.  I do love that I’m able to keep my child home but I also want to be able to work, because, you know, I own a business.  And spoiler alert here: having a baby doesn’t allow you to concentrate on your business as you did before.

I went with the decision to let my mother take care of my child for one full day of the week and put her in in-home daycare on another day of the week.  When my in-laws are home (they are away for 2/3 of the year), my mother-in-law has been gracious enough to give me another day when she can.  So no matter what, I should have 2-3 days where I won’t have my child in the house.

I realize I’m definitely lucky that I have family close by but I chose in-home daycare as well because that will be one day where no one has to worry about her.  They usually don’t take babies until they are 3 months old so I do have to wait until September, but for now, I’m getting one day a week to myself and clients.

Maybe as she becomes more self-sufficient I can cut out in-home daycare or maybe I’ll have to pivot my business to be more child friendly, but for now, this was the right choice for me.

 

I think the biggest takeaway I had from this experience is to realize that when you come back, you can’t jump right in.  Easing into it is the best option and if you have a full workload like I do, make sure you have plans for if you absolutely need to get the child out of the house so you can concentrate OR be ready to let go of some clients so your business is more flexible.

 

If anyone else has gone through this before – I’d love to hear what you did!

 

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