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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
If you’re seeing this…I’m on maternity leave! Don’t worry, I recorded this episode before baby Kucirek officially arrived. Actually, as you read this, she might not be here yet…but I’m already winding things down and taking a step back in my business to make the most of the final weeks before baby arrives.
I’m SUPER grateful to have a business that can support maternity leave, and having my own business while being pregnant has been fantastic. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like if I was teaching right now, and how hard it would be to be on my feet all day or find the best time for doctor’s appointments (or for taking a nap in the middle of the day!) I’ve really loved the flexibility my business has given me while I’m pregnant, but figuring out maternity leave self-employed is kind of hard and confusing!
So this episode and post are all about my maternity leave plans, how I plan to make money during my time off, and what I’m doing to prepare my business for a season of life where I’m going to be a lot less available. I’m sharing four steps I took to prepare for maternity leave when self-employed – I hope that by sharing my maternity leave plan template I can help make the process easier for other solopreneurs!
I took quite a bit of time on this stage! The first few months I was pregnant, I envisioned what I wanted my maternity leave to look like and talked to business friends who had been through it before. After talking to people who took off everything from a couple of weeks to six months, here’s what I decided to do:
I highly recommend a maternity leave “command center” – mine is a Google Doc that has my full plan for maternity leave. I check in on it at least once a week to cross things off and add anything new I’ve thought of.
My Google doc has the due date at the top, then all the other key dates (like my planned leave times) underneath. After that, I’ve made bulleted to-do lists in different categories. Here’s a little sample of what’s in some of my lists.
Small things I can do while on maternity leave
Things I’m NOT doing during maternity leave
The last thing on my maternity leave document is a list called “Support I Need After Birth.” It’s my list of all the ways I’d like to prepare now to make our lives easier. For example, we’re planning to avoid cooking (and dirty dishes!) as much as possible, so we’re going to stock up our freezer ahead of time. I’ve also made a list for our fridge so when family and friends come over, there’s a quick reference for ways they can help. I find it really difficult to ask people for help, so I’m hoping the list keeps me accountable to embracing it!
During my entire pregnancy, I’ve been checking in with all of my clients on the first of each month and sending an update on where we are with our to-dos before my maternity leave. Not only does this keep us on track, it keeps my due date present in their minds! They’re busy with their own lives and businesses, so it’s easy to forget!
Coming up with how we’ll handle my leave has been a collaborative process with each of my clients. The entire time, we’ve been talking about what they want and need and mutually setting expectations and goals for how things will play out.
This is a BIG part of the maternity leave logistics. For years, I’ve been so intimidated by the financial piece of maternity leave if self-employed. While I want to take the time I need, I don’t love the idea of taking a huge pause and not making money for a couple of months. I wish I had it all perfectly figured out where I could just take off six months and still make my regular income…but that’s not the reality of my business! Here are some of the strategies I’m using to help cover the time when my income won’t be as high as usual.
I set aside a maternity leave fund to cover my pay and expenses during the break. It’s not huge, but I’m SO glad I started it a few months ago. I just set up a savings fund and scheduled a weekly automatic deposit so it would grow over time. For now, that means putting less money into retirement and other long term savings (which is hard and makes me uncomfortable!) But I think the dedicated fund is going to be really helpful.
We also have an additional emergency fund. Of course, I hope we don’t have to use it, but it’s nice to know that if we need to dip into savings for some reason, it’s there. I’ve also been prioritizing our emergency fund this year so we have a bigger cushion if needed.
For me, this is mostly in my ThriveCart template shop and through affiliate income. I’m not making a TON of money through these yet, but they’re seeds I’ve planted that will continue to make money and grow my business while I’m away.
I’m a pretty budget-conscious person in my personal and business lives under normal circumstances. However, in the last few months I’ve been looking into how we can prioritize savings even more and spend less. I’ve been canceling business subscriptions to different softwares, pausing services, and getting super mindful of what we spend on groceries. This year, we also decided to get super minimal about where we’re traveling and the activities we’re doing so we can prioritize spending on baby-related expenses.
Even though I’m at the very end of my pregnancy, it feels kind of surreal that we’re really having a baby! Keep an eye out for a follow-up episode at the end of this year or early next year, where I’ll share how everything went.
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