I am officially in the countdown to have my first baby. I’m due in less than two weeks and while I’m excited, I’m also nervous about how my business will function without me.
How do you take something like maternity leave when you run your own business? When do you alert clients? Do you try to get subcontractors for every client so they have seamless support? Or should you just shut down for a bit, have clients function on their own, and take leave unpaid? And on top of that – how much time should you plan to take off? This isn’t a vacation time with a set departure and set return.
Let’s go through these questions one-by-one to see how I tackled this. If anyone has better ideas of how to handle this in the future, please let me know as I was honestly winging it these past nine months!
When do you tell your clients that you’re pregnant?
This is a personal decision, but I told most of my clients around 3.5 months into my pregnancy. I wanted them to sit on the idea for a while and see if they wanted backup support. I felt like the longer they knew about it, the easier it would be to transition when I do leave for a bit.
Should you get backup support (temp. employee or subcontractor) for your clients? Or should you take the entire time off and not worry about work while you adjust to your new life with a baby?
I had no idea where to go with this question and it gnawed at me for quite a bit. The best way to continue to make money while not working was to get subcontractors. Getting a subcontractor, however, means that I would have to train them extensively on what my clients do and I debated if it was worth it when I might not be out that long.
Not having backup meant not making any money. If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is. I’m lucky enough that my husband makes a fairly decent amount that I can breathe a little easier because we would still have something coming in, even if I’m not working. Unfortunately, not everyone has that buffer though, so not having someone backing you up and disappearing on clients could set your business and personal life back quite a bit.
In the end, I opted to leave it up to the client and took the decision out of my hands. I have two clients who decided they want subcontractors and the others elected to be on their own. I will not be making a lot of money while I’m out, but I realize this also gives me a little room to breathe easier and spend time with my new family member.
How much time should you take off on maternity leave?
Again, this was a tough question to answer and I couldn’t pass the buck to my client on this one to have them make a decision. I decided to tell my clients I will be out for six weeks from when the baby is born, with the possibility of eight weeks depending on my recovery.
I came about the idea for six weeks for multiple reasons. By six weeks, unless there were complications with your pregnancy, your body should be healed enough to be active again to what it was prior to giving birth. I do not have to commute a long distance (heck, I could work from my bed if I want to), I do not have to get up super early, dress nice, put on makeup, etc. I only need to be working from a computer.
Yes, I will be tired. Yes, I may still feel exhausted to the bone and not sleeping well. I’m well aware that my life is going to change drastically within a couple of weeks. But I also realize that I can’t leave my business for too long. I love my business and I’ve worked really hard to get it where it is today. There’s no way I’ll give it up and I can’t imagine not returning to it.
I’ll have to figure out how to make my business work with my new life, just like every mother out there.
Any other single/small business owners out there with advice on maternity leave? Would love to hear it!
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