Preparing for Maternity Leave
Depending on where you live in the world the ease and accessibility for taking maternity leave to differ. But, there is more to think about than just the time and money you might need. Whether you work for yourself or for others may also determine the ability for you to take the amount of time you may want and need. Recently one of my AGENCY members asked about preparing for her upcoming maternity leave. And the responses from other members were so beneficial I wanted to share them with you. If you are planning a maternity leave or think you might sometime in the future read through these.
Before I get into their advice, I want to point out a few things:
- If you work for yourself can you have someone sub for you and pay you a portion of the rate as a “rent” or “commission” while you are on maternity leave?
- Make sure you have autoresponders and other systems set in place so you truly can have a true maternity leave. I know it seems like it’s a simple email here and there but you will feel better if you know that people are getting the main info they need if you can’t get to your emails and texts for at least a week or more.
- Give yourself space and grace. Perfectionists I’m looking at you.
Ok, now, advice from actual mom’s who are Pilates teachers when asked “both my husband and I will take the first month the baby is born completely off. For the next 2 months, I will only train 10 sessions a week. For the following 2 months, I am thinking to go back to my full schedule. Any advice, anything I should consider?”
Advice You Should Consider
Katie Donnelly, Pilates teacher: “Oh mama It’s SO hard to plan these things…and that right there is the first lesson in parenthood! You have no idea really when the baby is coming (my first was 16 days late) and you don’t know how you’ll feel about going back to work. One month is gonna FLY by and honestly, you probably won’t be ready to go back. What if you have a c section? That’s 8 weeks of recovery. Even vaginally is 6 weeks. 10 hours a week is a lot at 8-12 weeks postpartum. If you were any other mammal, the baby would still be inside! Speaking from my experience, we can have a lot of pride as movement professionals and think our recovery is gonna be easy. Even with the most “perfect” recovery (if there even is one) it takes a lot of time. And have you thought about feeding? If you decide to breastfeed you will need to schedule in pumping every 2-3 hours you’re away from the baby. So that will shift your time slots – you’d probably need to allow 30-45 mins for set up, pumping, and disinfecting. As for business advice, I’ve got two thoughts:
- Use the month leading up to your leave as a time to teach client autonomy. Give them homework and handouts and help them make time in their schedules while at home. People are so used to online that you can even do prerecorded to sell while you’re on leave.
- Coming back is a great time to raise your prices.
“My time is more valuable now”. Any client who is a parent will get that. This way you won’t need as many hours. Oh! Bonus third thought. Use @xx-LL’s technique for building your dream schedule. Do this a few weeks AFTER the baby is born. And then reevaluate every few weeks bc their sleep and feed patterns change so rapidly.”
Jen Gatens: My best advice is to have a few backup plans (like Plan A, B, and C) and make sure you have a lot of support and flexibility. There are just so many unknowns and you will not regret giving yourself the gift of time, grace, and space. When I had my daughter, I thought I could “project plan” my way through it. But, in hindsight, what really I needed was people to “love on” me and support me so that I could do what I needed to do – be it take care of myself, my work, and/or my baby. I hope that helps! And sending you best wishes for peaceful birth and recovery
Caitlin Haitzbueler: So I was not a solopreneur when I had my babies. I worked corporate which gave me a lot more options for sure. But what I do remember is taking 4 full months off after and still not fully being ready to return. For so many reasons but mostly I was TIRED and still nursing every 3 hours! You just don’t know. And sounds like you are the planning type. So yes make plans a, b and c and then throw them out the window because it might be a combo of all the plans or none of the plans.
I’d say this:
- Give yourself at least 8 weeks fully off in case you have a C-section or have a harder recovery.
- plan to do less vs more. You can always add if it feels right but it’s harder to take away.
- Give yourself space and grace. Having a baby is a HUGE thing for your body.
- You have to also think about allowing yourself time to heal and also doing the exercises to help you heal. I wish I had known these things when I had my babies but I wasn’t even in this industry yet and no one told me.
- Maybe start now and put together a virtual program that allows you to scale and still make money while you are “off” or easing back in.
- And do what you can now to pre-create, pre-plan, and automate. You will want to make it as easy as possible for yourself.
Kimberly Craig: I was excited for my first to come, take off 4 months, and get back to work without a hiccup. THEN I was put on hospital bed rest at 28 1/2 weeks with a full placenta previa! I had to have a c-section, which got infected, AND my son had to stay a month in special care. I did NOT plan for any of that…and I still went back to work 4 months later (but really didn’t feel up to it). I was dealing with postpartum depression, grief over the death of my father 3 months prior, and to top it off, my son had acid reflux so sleep…wasn’t.
With my second, I had higher hopes (the bar was low). I ended up with another placenta previa but was only on bed rest for 3 days; my daughter had NO issues and slept through the night at 6 weeks; my recovery was smooth. I still didn’t REALLY want to go back to work 4 months later, but it was a heck of a lot easier! The moral of the story? You really can’t plan for what will ACTUALLY happen. Like @Jennifer Gatens said, have multiple plans! What’s the worst-case scenario? My clients were all awesome and gracious because they knew & understood the challenges of new moms (and I think they all felt REALLY bad for me the first time around
I’d decide your concrete plans after the baby comes and you have an idea how you feel!
Libby Teale: Congratulations! I agree with waiting to finalize your plans. My third is my easiest baby ever and started coming to work with me at 10 weeks – until she was 8 months old. It was just a 2-3 hour shift. Not planned but we got to re-open after covid and I wasn’t sure if anyone would come to class and had no care organized, so took my old shifts back. My clients loved her coming in and miss her coming now! That said, it wouldn’t have worked with my first 2, but she happily sat in a baby bjorn bouncer during classes. Babies love watching feet in straps! You’ll know what’s best when the baby arrives.
How amazing is all this advice? I hope you saw yourself in one or more of these responses. My hope for you is the same for teachers always. That you create a business that allows you to work it around YOUR life. And when you add a little one or more to the mix I want you to feel that you can change your schedule to work with your new life.
Most importantly give yourself space and grace! Your clients love you because you help them. Not because you come in at a specific hour.
For more tips on scheduling check out our “ideal schedule” course. And, make sure you are consistent with an annual or semi-annual rate increase in your business. Check out our course “raising your rates” for tips on that.
Finally, congratulations! If you’re reading this I am sure you’re excited, full of wonder, and even some worry. Please let us know which tips you loved. Or add your own in the comments below.