Preparing for Maternity Leave When You Own Your Own Business | Shea Brianne Photography

July 30, 2021

Preparing for Maternity Leave When You Own Your Own Business

If you haven’t heard the news, I’m pregnant

At the time of writing this blog post, I am 32 weeks along and in the throes of preparing for maternity leave (and decorating the nursery and deep cleaning our house. Nesting is such a real thing!)

 

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in preparing for maternity leave, it’s that stepping back from work as a business owner can be a little overwhelming, but not at all impossible! 

 

In this post, I’m going to outline what I’m planning for my maternity leave to look like and what I’m doing to prepare to take off from the business. If you’re a preggy business owner too (or just curious!) I hope that you find reading my game plan to be helpful!

 

My maternity leave plan

 

Our little man’s due date is in September. We’ll have a pretty busy fall finishing out shooting our weddings and learning the whole “parenting thing.” What’s great though is that after that busy season we have a nice long stretch over the winter where we won’t have any weddings/shoots–– aka slow season! *Praise hands*

 

For my maternity leave, I decided to take as close to 8 weeks off from my business as possible, starting at two weeks from my due date. (I took this advice from Kat Schmoyer’s blog post about taking a maternity leave!) So, my official dates are August 27-October 24th. Then, my goal is to take 2 weeks after that to adapt to working mom life– figuring out some semblance of a schedule, getting into a routine, and giving myself some (ahem, lots of?) grace transitioning back into work a few days a week.

 

I wanted to break up my maternity leave into two parts: 8 weeks of not-checking-my-email, no work at all, totally focusing on baby time, and then 2 weeks of more of an “adjustment phase.” This is because I have a few fall weddings that need to be shot while I’m on leave, so I know some editing/gallery work will be required once my official leave ends. However, I won’t be putting myself on a strict schedule during those two weeks I start working again. Merging this big life change with work will hopefully like something to explore and embrace rather than fight and get frustrated by!

 

Here are the main goals I wrote down as I started planning my leave:

 

  • Take 8 weeks of true maternity leave, not checking emails or working on business at all but just totally getting to know baby
  • Take 2 weeks to transition back and do a little bit of work when I can, specifically only on client and admin work
  • To set myself up for slow season after maternity leave to adjust to working mom life and figure out a routine and plan a vision for 2022
  • To have enough content prepared and scheduled to keep marketing going from mid-August to the beginning of December (I didn’t want to have to worry about content while transitioning back into work in October, so I decided to prep enough to get me through November!)
  • Confirm my virtual assistant, Autumn, has all she needs to take care of things while I take off work and that she knows what to expect
  • Ensure my clients know what to expect and that they are still getting a great experience despite me stepping away
  • Make sure prospective clients inquiring have information on when they can expect to hear back from our team

 

I felt like these goals fit my main needs for time with the baby AND time to figure out the transition to being a working mom (without being unrealistic.)

 

The hardest part I’ve discovered? Definitely batching extra content and making marketing plans months and MONTHS ahead of time! But I’ll dig into that more here in a second.

 

How I’m preparing for maternity leave

 

I tend to dream big, so when I first made a list of how I wanted to prepare for maternity leave, it was pretty unrealistic and long. At this point with less than two months now (!!!) until our little man’s arrival, I have really narrowed down what my priorities are and are not. Here’s what I came up with:

 

  • Priority #1: Continue marketing efforts that keeps the business top of mind for brides/couples looking for a wedding photographer
  • Priority #2: Also continue marketing efforts to provide content for business owners looking for education 

 

So really, preparing for maternity for me is all about marketing and content prep! Knowing that content will still be going out and that my social media outlets won’t suddenly be dead gives me a lot of assurance that the business will still be hot and ready when I come back to work.

 

As far as batching that content, here is what I’m doing:

  • Batching extra blog posts for each month I will be in “mommy season.” I’m aiming for two posts per month
  • Having Autumn, our amazing virtual assistant, take the blog posts and format the copy into our Creative Club emails and also create social media graphics to post on Stories when they go live
  • Going through my content calendar and plugging in everything from what blog post will go live when, what story graphic will be posted when, etc.
  • Scheduling Instagram posts to be automatically posted without me
  • Batching a few reels– if I have time! This isn’t a priority but more of a fun marketing bonus if I get it done

 

I will say… batching additional content on top of your normal amount of tasks is much harder than I thought it would be. I wish I would have estimated more time to slowly chip away at my content list. However, I’ll feel so much more relaxed stepping away from the business knowing that content is still regularly going out, so it’s worth it to me.

 

Aside from that, I have been preparing for maternity leave by:

  • Preparing an “away” email to set up on my Gmail account (I’ll post it below!)
  • Going over a maternity plan with Autumn so she knows what to do while I’m on leave
  • Setting things up for AFTER maternity leave so that I can transition back into work without feeling overwhelmed**
  • Letting our photo editor know when our August + fall weddings are so she can do a fast turnaround
  • Getting all of our current galleries and album orders out ASAP so nothing is backed up
  • Sending out bride’s questionnaires/getting any other client tasks done early so our photo family is all taken care of

 

My maternity leave automated email response:

Hello there!

Thank you so much for your email! I am currently on maternity leave until October 24, 2021. Jared and I are so excited for this sweet time with our little one! We’d love for you to follow along with this new season on Instagram… but only if you are okay with lots of baby boy cuteness! 

If you are an inquiring or current SB couple, you are very important to us! Our lovely assistant Autumn will be replying to your message within 72 hours. 

If you need an immediate response or have an emergency, you may email Autumn directly at [Autumn’s VA email here.] 

For all other emails, I will get back to you after October 24th or you’re welcome to email me again after that date!

Thank you for your patience and kindness as we transition into this new season of parenthood!

**This was another great tip I picked up from Kat’s blog! Kat mentioned having things as ready to go as possible to step back into work post maternity leave. Looking ahead at November, I picked a few tasks and set them into batch work blocks I can choose from based on how much time I have during my week when I get return. This will save me from wasting time trying to figure out what I need to be working on (which I doubt I will have with a newborn in my care!)

 

All in all, learning how to take maternity leave as a business owner who likes to be in control has been a learning curve. I had to accept that this is something I can’t do this without outsourcing help. By delegating tasks, I have minimized my work load and had the time to prepare things to the point that I know with total confidence that I can step back from my business and return with flexibility.

 

I know there are many more learning curves to come once the baby gets here! The way I’ve been looking at it is that it’s just a season– it won’t last forever! Right now though I’m hustling really hard to get things prepared, soon I’ll have our little one in my arms and get to totally focus on him for a season while the business runs itself. How cool is that?

 

I hope that if you’re an expecting momma or learning to take a break from work that this was helpful! We will see if I get everything done before I take off or not. Let’s hope I can do it!

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