Whether you’re taking a maternity leave, a long (or short) vacation, a sabbatical, or ANY time away from your business for any reason, you’ll love the tips I’m sharing in this episode! This is the episode I was always hoping to find during my pregnancy about maternity leave for online business owners, but never found. So, I made it myself! This is a crash course in how I prepared for and planned my maternity leave — as an online business owner with a team. But, I give plenty of tips that will help you even if you’re a solopreneur.
I’m sharing exactly what I hope my maternity leave will look like, what the plan is, how I prepared myself and my team for the leave, and 6 of my top tips for planning your maternity leave or vacation. I recorded this at almost 37 weeks pregnant right before my leave started.. You’ll be hearing it as my maternity leave is starting to come to a close. So, you’ll hear what I planned PLUS, you’ll be able to have seen how it was all executed. I plan to come back with part two of this episode to share what worked and what didn’t in all of this planning. I’m a first time mom, so it’s VERY possible I missed some stuff. But, I feel great about this leave overall.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
This post will cover:
- Start planning and prepping as soon as you have excitement and energy around it. Don’t wait!
- Make a master folder where everything for your leave lives for both you and your team.
- Prepare content ahead of time!
- Over communicate the plan.
- Simplify areas of your business.
- Go “out of the office” from your inbox.
As you plan any time away from your business for a maternity leave or something else, it is good to start with this question, “What do I think I want it to look like?”
I had no idea at first what I wanted this to look like but have decided over time. For me I knew I wanted to start my leave 15 days BEFORE my due date. I knew I didn’t want to have important meetings or a launch at least a week before my due date.
Since I decided to start the leave earlier than the baby's expected arrival, I actually had a list of personal and fun things I wanted to do as I waited for him to come during that early maternity leave.
Some things on my list if you’re curious…
- Read a fun fiction novel or two
- Work through Nancy Ray’s Integrated Life Course
- Extra time each day in prayer, writing, journaling, just praying over my birth and my baby
- Finishing up the nursery all the way
- Meal prep with my mother in law
- Blogging - 3rd Trimester Must Haves + Maternity Photoshoot
- Hang out with girl friends
- Organizing in our house
- Walking and yoga
Tune in to the full episode to hear all of the things I knew I DID and DID NOT want during my maternity leave!
1. Start planning and prepping as soon as you have excitement and energy around it. Don’t wait!
Logically, I think we can think, this leave, this vacation, my due date, is months away, so why plan for it now? At least when it comes to a baby on the way, that energy you have in the 2nd trimester thinking about time off, might be GONE by the time you’re about to pop. You will thank yourself for working on it earlier.
I started working on my maternity leave plans during the first trimester. That might sound early, but I have a business with multiple product offers, 3 launches during my pregnancy, and I work with about 10 contractors on and off in addition to my team of 2 people. So there is a lot to think through to make sure things still go smoothly while I’m out.
I enjoyed thinking about it early on in my pregnancy because thinking about myself completely OUT OF my business for a few months gave me perspective on what needed to be done before then and what things only I knew how to do.
Starting to prepare and plan for me looked like researching tips from other people, making a master document with responsibilities, dates, and tasks to complete beforehand.
Start prepping NOW if you feel like it, no matter how far away it is for you.
2. Make a master folder where everything for your leave lives for both you and your team.
Fun fact, I love organization and project management! I treated my maternity leave like a project I am in charge of managing, and that mindset kept me organized. My team was super impressed with the level of planning and detail I gave them for my leave and we are all starting this thing feeling prepared and like all possibilities are well planned for.
My master folder is on our company's Google Drive labeled Maternity Leave Plan. There are 9 documents inside of it. Be sure to listen to the full episode for details on each of these documents.
- Important dates during leave
- Important Contact Emails and Phone Numbers
- Communicating with Elizabeth While on Leave
- Responsibilities During Leave
- Guidelines for Specific Email Circumstances
- Message Templates and Responders for Leave
- Things to Make Sure We Know Before Leave
- To Do’s before leave
- Messages to Specific Contractors about Maternity Leave
Planning maternity leave for online business owners will look different for everyone. You might need to have documents for more or less than this, but this is a great starting point.
3. Prepare content ahead of time!
You may not want to do this but trust me, it will be so worth it! When I was planning this for myself, I considered things like
- How much podcast content do I want to not have to work on during leave?
- Do I do recasts of old episodes? Nothing? All new content? A mix?
- Do I want to still post on social media? If so, is it mostly pre-planned content or things I’m writing fresh?
I ended up deciding to do a mix of new podcasts that I pre-recorded and a few recast episodes. This is a lot of work. But I did the prepping SLOWLY, which I think is the key. I recorded the prepped episodes as I had excitement and energy around those topics.
For social media, I’m prepared business content to post that I can share whenever. My team uploads the podcast graphics for each week’s episodes into our scheduling softwares so everything is ready so I can share about episodes easily.
4. Over communicate the plan.
If you can’t tell from Tip #2, I’m into over-communicating the plan. *Hence my giant folder covering all possible bases.*
I think communication is important. Everyone needs to be on the same page about expectations and what is happening. About a month and half before my due date, I sent the folder to my team and had them review everything before our next team meeting.
We had 2 team meetings dedicated to talking about my leave. Then I did an individual meeting with each team member talking about the leave and their responsibilities.
I’ve heard stories of maternity leave for online business owners not going so great. Things including the business owner not realizing that their team was struggling during their leave without them or they had questions that went unanswered, and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen for my team.
5. Simplify areas of your business.
This can be things like adding in more systems, cancelling things you don’t need and making sure your team knows how to do the important things.
This is something you can start planning or paying attention to early on. This is even something good to do if you never take any significant time away from your business. You still need systems and you don’t need to be the only one who can do things in your business.
Throughout my pregnancy, I simplified my business.
Ways I did this:
- Quit working with my Facebook ads agency.
- Created more systems around things that needed it.
- Made sure I wasn’t the only one who could do some various key things in the business.
My encouragement is to look for holes in your business leading up to the longer leave. Do test runs even and don’t be afraid to make some changes.
When we took our baby moon for example, I completely unplugged from my business. I was able to come back and we as a team analyzed what holes we saw.
6. Go “out of office” from your inbox.
This is so true! My brain always wants the American way! My heart needs the European way!
I encourage you to unplug from communication outside of your team member who is managing the inbox. If you don’t have a team member managing it, maybe that is something you hire before this leave while you are preparing.
Maybe you set your inbox up with a solid autoresponder telling people when you will get back to them and not to expect a reply until then. Both of these options WORK!
Listen to the full episode to hear exactly how my team and I are managing the inbox for my maternity leave.
Planning maternity leave for online business owners is no easy task. But I hope what I share here today blesses you and prepares you well to leave your business for a break with CONFIDENCE.
Let me know if this episode helps you by sending me a message on Instagram or writing a review for this podcast on Apple Podcasts! I’d love to hear from you!
If you missed earlier pregnancy episodes, be sure to go back to those as well! I have tons of podcast episodes and blog content recapping this pregnancy including favorite products, photoshoot outfits, and more.
Pregnancy Podcast Episodes:
Pregnancy Blog Posts:
October 12, 2021