des moines, iowa and beyond

workflow & systems strategist

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How I’m preparing for a 4 month Maternity Leave

Business, Systems & Workflows

I’m always so interested to see how other people prepare for various things in business. Maternity leave is no exception. I’ve seen so many people preparing for sabbaticals the past few years and my circle has had a lot of babes, so I thought it may be helpful to share how I’m preparing for a 4 month maternity leave!

I will preface this with the fact that this looks very different from my preparation for my first maternity leave 4 years ago. So many things are different – the market, my business, our family needs, how people consume content and more! Also note, each business, family and circumstance is different, so please feel free to glean from this what helps you and leave the rest. No matter what kind of leave you’re preparing for, make sure your prep serves YOU.

blog pinterest image - preparing for 4 month maternity leave

This post is going to talk specifically about maternity leave, but you can apply these principles to any extended leave you are planning to take from your business. That could be a vacation, sabbatical, medical leave, etc. 

When to start planning for maternity leave? 

This will look different for everyone, however, I planned our dates once I confirmed our due date. As a family, we wanted to make sure we had as much lead time to financially prepare and for me to continue booking to the goals we needed. Since there’s a lot to consider, I say quietly plan financially and your dates as soon as possible.

Then, get into the nitty-gritty of the outlining and planning by week 20 or so, to make sure you have plenty of time to get things done amidst your client work and baby prep at home!

Determining how long you’ll take & your boundaries

This is going to be very personal to you. For our family, we discussed what would be ideal and worked from there to see what was realistic. With  being due in September, followed by an always busy Q4 for our family (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays) and the fact that I usually take the majority of December off, we were hoping I could take 4 months. 

In order to make that happen, we had to seriously look at our financial goals and ensure we had enough saved ahead of time to cover that leave period. By God’s grace and thanks to my fantastic clients, we do! 

Here are the questions we discussed when determining how long my maternity leave would be:

  • What financial goals do you need to achieve to be able to cover your leave? How much time does that allow you?
  • How much time would you like to have before baby?How much time with baby?
  • Holidays/sabbatical time you want to build in?

Now let’s talk about boundaries and non-negotiables. It is important for you and to communicate expectations to your clients/audience. Additionally, this helps you set your expectations and understand what kind of preparations you need to make going into your leave period.

  • Will you be checking emails? Will you be available at all (ex. via text, Voxer, etc)?
  • How will emergencies be handled? Do you have a VA or associate who will manage that?
  • Will you check in with clients and/or social media?

For me, I want to be as present and offline with my family as possible during this precious time. So, I will check email once a month for urgent matters and my clients will know what to expect. Otherwise, it’ll be primarily scheduled content and I’ll hop on social sporadically as our family schedule allows.

There are no right answers here. Do what is right for you. You get to make the rules!

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Strategy to consider

This one is something I don’t see discussed very often and I hadn’t even considered before I started planning this maternity leave. My business coach, Val, actually brought it up and it makes a whole lot of sense!!

As you prepare to work ahead, produce content, schedule things, etc, you need to know what your goals are for how you show up during and upon your return from maternity leave. 

  • Are you looking to just stay relevant?
  • Do you need to prime/prep people for a booking period when you’re back?
  • Focusing on something else like algorithms, SEO gains, etc?

Just like with any business planning, knowing your end goal and why is key to making sure you set yourself up for success!

Determining how much/which content you need to prep

Now that you know the timing and strategy, you can map out what content you need to prepare. I’ll delve into more detail on the content batching in my next post. But for this higher level point, consider the following:

  • What frequency will you be posting/publishing content?
  • Where do you want/need to show up for your audience? (IG, FB, Blog, Email)
  • Outline dates that you need to produce content for and which platforms each one will be on

Once you can see how much you need to write and produce, you’ll have a clear picture of how to schedule it all to be done before you are out. This can add up to a lot, which is why I mentioned trying to have a lot of this outline done as early as possible!

How to communicate with & set clients’ expectations

This is very important, of course! Especially depending on your boundaries, you want to be sure to set clear expectations for both existing clients and anyone who contacts you while you’re out. Don’t leave them wondering or feeling like you ghosted them. 

  • Make sure your email signature states your leave dates as soon as possible
  • Notify clients early that you will be taking a leave. I’ve been doing this for months to make sure it’s not news. I recommend communicating this a minimum of 2 months out. Let them know what to expect in communication from you while you’re out. How can they reach you if something is urgent?
  • Draft and schedule your out of office auto responder. This should be in your email, social media and automated workflow templates. This way, if anyone forgets or reaches out as a new lead during your leave, you have reiterated what is happening, they know you received their message and there are clear expectations as to when they will hear from you.

Like I said, there are no right or wrong ways to do this. This time, I’m preparing very differently than 4 years ago, for multiple reasons. By planning with these key points in mind, you should be all set to be as unplugged as you like during your maternity leave (or extended leave).

Comment or email me with any questions you have. If you’ve recently planned an extended leave from your business, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!


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