Making the Most of Parental Leave

This is a big month for me. For those of you who don’t know, I am pregnant and am getting induced next week! So I have selfishly ask a great friend, colleague, and new mom to help me with some tips for planning for (and surviving) maternity (or paternity) leave. Amy Humble is an independent consultant, specializing in business and nonprofit strategy, executive coaching, and leadership/organizational development. She has helped me think about my business differently and be strategic about going out on my own. These are great tips for moms and dads who work for themselves but can also be applied to more traditional employment scenarios and other types of leave.

1. Get the support you need...in advance. Line up what you can while you still have the energy and time. There are always a lot of moving parts when you own your own business AND are expecting. Take some time to think through childcare, meal planning, and any support you will need with your clients. Maybe consider engaging sub-contractors or other consultants who can help cover things while you are out.

2. Take off the right amount of time for you. Society seems to forget that traditional maternity leave largely applies to those who have employers. You may be able to step away for awhile (and more power to you) or you may only be able to afford a few weeks. I actually found the first few months eas(ier) to keep up with emails and projects because the baby slept, a lot. The more challenging time is later when they are more responsive and you can interact with them more. Perhaps consider keeping your schedule flexible for a longer period of time vs. being totally off for a shorter period of time.

3. Treat yourself. Carve out some dedicated time for yourself and work with whatever support system you have to make that happen. Take yourself to the spa, go on a day trip, and/or buy yourself something nice.

4. Be clear with clients. Have a plan for each of your clients for handoff of key tasks during your leave. You want to make sure they are kept abreast of your plans and feel thought of. I also highly recommend including them (to the extent you feel comfortable) in your birth announcement and a couple of updates. Everybody loves babies and if they don't, get new clients. :)

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