Happy Monday, friends!
I have officially been back to work for a week now and I’m feeling really great about it! While it feels like my 10 weeks of set maternity leave just flew by, I wanted to share five things that helped me prepare as intentionally as possible for both those weeks and beyond. My hope is that this post isn’t an end all or ‘must-do’ list of all the things you must do before becoming an entrepreneur mama, but instead a place of inspiration for other similar women approaching a new and exciting season of transitions and unknowns.
Keeping the lines of communication open with my clients as much as possible. When I first found out I was pregnant, Andrew and I had a discussion about what I wanted my maternity leave to look like. Once we had an idea of our plan (with wiggle room for flexibility of course), I called each client to let them know we were expecting well before our announcement was made public on social media. I wanted my clients to hear our happy news directly from me and I wanted to present them with a plan for how I would continue to serve them and meet their needs during this special time in our lives. While I was nervous no one would want a pregnant wedding planner in their court I was so pleasantly surprised by the grace, excitement, and kindness each couple extended to us. Within a few months each and every client had even presented us with a gift for Lachlan and I think that’s a testament to the incredible type of people I get to work with (and also a story for another day!)
Keeping my clients up to date on my leave plans, who would help them with emergencies while I was out, when I would be returning and so forth, were all things discussed with each couple so boundaries and expectations were clear. I also relied heavily on my husband to be the one to manage any emergencies if for whatever reason they came up OR I if had a much harder time adapting to motherhood than anticipated. I went into this with a ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ mentality but thankfully I think we’ve done a pretty great job at balancing it all! It sure helps to have a pretty sweet little dude on our hands too.
Getting ahead on my to do list. There’s keeping up with your to do list, and then there’s being five steps ahead of it. Since my due date was January 10th and I take two weeks off at Christmas for the holidays, I decided it made sense for my maternity leave to start on December 21st. Many people told me I would deliver early so I wanted to be prepared if this happened. But of course my child decided to come EIGHT days past his due date so by the time he had arrived, I had almost a month of maternity leave under my belt but with no baby. I used this time to nest like most mamas to be do but also to hustle and get ahead on many work related to do items.
This included preblogging some posts, drafting up an email to introduce our son to my clients once he was born, creating itemized lists for clients in Aisle Planner for them to be busy with while I was out of the office, touching base with clients on time sensitive things as needed even though I was ‘on mat leave,’ and finally, getting ahead with Trouvaille planning. I’m so glad I did this because I went into motherhood feeling stress-free and without the weight of a million loose work ends being left behind.
Giving myself the grace to work during my maternity leave. I’m fortunate enough to have a career I love and adore tending to. I’m also really lucky to have a baby that I love and adore tending to even more. While I never expected to have a baby that napped all day during the first 10 weeks (and don’t you new mamas worry because that hasn’t been the reality either!), I did know there would be chunks of time where he would sleep and I would be itching to work a little. And not because I felt I had to! But because I wanted to.
So I did just that and I gave myself the grace to accept this was OK. Around week four postpartum, I started responding to a few client emails during Lachlan’s naps. I also started reaching out to Trouvaille vendors. I even started to brainstorm designs for client and put those to paper. And you know what? It felt really good to have a purpose that extended beyond nursing, diaper changes, and laundry even if for just 30 minutes a day.
Keeping my expectations low. I think a lot of people confuse a maternity leave with a vacation; as if a new mom is sitting at home laying on the couch watching Netflix with a snuggly little baby while people drop off hot meals on her front porch. While there certainly were baby snuggles during those first ten weeks of L’s life, they were usually after a nursing session at 3:00 am and were in positions where I was afraid to move and wake him up or squish his little body. And while we were so grateful to have friends and family bring us meals those first few weeks, eventually those stopped and we were on our own.
Keeping my expectations low was SO helpful on so many levels. My expectations on the following were all kept very low: how long L sleeps, how long he nurses for, how productive I can be with my little pockets of free time, how my body heals, how much time I have for Andrew, how much time I have for myself, how clean our home will be, how easy it is to get out of the house, etc. All of these things came with expectations before and even during my pregnancy but pretty close to my due date, I decided to throw all expectations out the window. And I’m SO glad I did because my postpartum experience has been full of such joy because of it.
Research, settle on and accept help with childcare. Finally, I can’t say enough about accepting help with childcare and having some sort of plan for how your baby will be cared for if and when you return to work. For me, because I work for myself from home I decided to go back to work part time for the rest of the year. Given my work load, the kind of baby Lachlan is, Andrew’s ability to work from home every now and then, and the fact that we live 1000 feet from the front door of a day care center where he will be going three days a week starting in June; ALL of these things mean I can work VERY intentionally three days a week for the first year of L’s life, with the exception of wedding weekends where I will obviously need to work more.
On the days where Lachlan is a bit more fussy or the days where I may need an extra hand, I also have my mother in law five minutes away to help. Just knowing she’s there to help gives me peace of mind. While not every new mom has these same blessings like family near by or a partner with a flexible job, for me it’s been so helpful to know I don’t have to carry the burden of running a business at the same time as being a mama 24/7. This was so helpful while assessing how and when I would return to work.
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And that’s it! I’d love to hear some of your tips too, mamas. All photos here are by my amazing friend Gina Zeidler. I can tell you Lachlan was crying bloody murder in these photos which is why we are laughing in some of them! You can’t always have a sweet and smiling little babe on your hands right? Make it a great day, friends!