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How to Take Maternity Leave without Putting Life on Hold

Lesson 8 of 16

Putting your Plan into Action


How to Take Maternity Leave without Putting Life on Hold

Lesson 8 of 16

Putting your Plan into Action


Lesson Info

Putting your Plan into Action

So let's talk about putting this plan into action. We're going to talk about the nuts and bolts of getting your plan rolling. So, the first thing that you wanna do is set your childcare arrangements. So obviously, everything is subject to change, but the earlier you can arrange your childcare options, the better. Infant care is really hard to come by and depending on what city or where you live, it can be impossible under six weeks. Six weeks is when a lot of daycare centers would open up their care and become available, and a lot of infant care places have one year waiting lists, so I know my sister-in-law got on a waiting list as soon as she found out she was pregnant, for her baby. So we're gonna talk about some specifics about childcare, but as soon as you can, do these worksheets, think about what kind of childcare you want, and start to see what you can line up, because the sooner it is, the easier it's gonna be. So we're gonna go through each of these steps, the pre-baby prepara...

tion, the short leave, the maintenance mode, and your new integrated life. We're gonna talk a little bit about the nuts and bolts in each section, and then I'm also gonna share what I did. Just sharing it with you, because it's some information. Tons of people do things completely differently. If you ask my mother-in-law, I didn't spend enough time on leave, and if you ask me, I probably spent too much time on leave, so not even the same situation viewed from different points ends up being the same, so that's just how it goes. You have to do what's right for you and your nuclear family, and just like we talked about renegotiating relationship contracts, your relationship contracts are about to get a lot more complicated. So, in this phase, you've done all your worksheets, if you haven't done them seriously, and remember, the worksheets are only available if you've purchased the class, but if you haven't really dug down, really pulled out your records, really set a timetable for this time, you wanna go ahead and do it as soon as possible. You wanna start working on cutting back your tasks. You wanna set your goals for doing any hiring that you need to do, to delegate the tasks, and we're gonna be talking about hiring in the next section, you wanna get the most streamlined, and implement these systems that are just gonna make your life easier, and get a list of your work ahead tasks, things you wanna accomplish, and just hit it doing it. There's really nothing you can do preparing-wise, except start preparing and start doing it. You may feel like life is kinda crazy at this point, and it certainly is, there's a lot to manage, if you're pregnant, you probably have a lot of doctor's visits that are coming up, and it can seem really frantic, but the more you can get accomplished in advance, the better it is for you. Alright so, pre-baby preparation, for me I started doing stuff about four months before your due date, before my due date, not yours, mine. Ideally though, you wanna start as soon as possible, and really, if I was gonna answer the question super, super genuinely, I started preparing three years before I even had a kid. I've always focused my business on being as streamlined as possible, so a lot of these tasks and worksheets that I'm explaining to you, are already things I had done in my business. You wanna give yourself a lot of leeway to take the time you need, because you never know if the baby's gonna come early. You just never know what's gonna happen, so the more wiggle room you can give yourself now, the easier it's gonna be for you later. What did I do during this phase? I wrote blog posts, like I told you, I designed crochet patterns, I designed the patterns well into advance. I told you how I packed my subscription club packages for the first month completely in advance. I set up and autoresponder, so during this time, I didn't put it up yet, I just wrote it, so that when an email came in, when I pushed go, someone would receive a reply explaining why I was on a short leave, and so these are just some of the tasks, along with the ones I showed you in the previous lesson about adding things to your feed link, getting thumb tasks ready. Your particulars for organizing and preparing are gonna be different, depending on what your business is, but now is the time to do it. I know there are a lot of cultures who can be a little superstitious, don't wanna set up the nursery before the baby comes, you don't wanna do whatever before the baby comes. If you can prepare, even if it's just making your business, the best business you can, the more you can prepare, the better, so I would encourage you to push some of the superstitions aside, even if you're just streamlining your business, so that you can have the best, most awesome business for you, just do it, do whatever you have to do to prepare. So, I always encourage you to think about, don't think about the worst, but expect uncertainty and plan for the worst case scenario. So, you don't actually know what the birth event will be like. For some people it's a surgery, the baby might be early, the baby might be late, and if you're adopting, this uncertainty is like times 100, because a lot of adoptive families don't know when the baby's going to arrive at all. Maybe you have an estimate, sometime this year, sometime next year. So, aside from the actual event of arrival, it's really difficult to know, how you're going to respond to the physical demands of being kept awake at night, needing to feed a baby very frequently. So, when the military wants to take someone and train them to find out how they'll respond under torture, they sleep deprive them, so this is pushing the boundaries of our limits as human beings, is to not get a lot of sleep, which is exactly what a baby does to your life. So I encourage you not to say, oh yeah for sure I'll be answering emails like the next day. Give yourself this extra time as you're planning, and like I said before, you can always over-deliver, under-promise a tiny bit, just to prepare for the ups and downs that may happen. So, this was my timeline, I had a shipment of 600 boxes that was due to ship on the 20th. My daughter was due the 19th, so my birthday is December 31st, great birthday to have, I took my birthday off, I took January first off, 'cause that's New Year. I packed the boxes on January second, and I was like, hotdog, I have 2-1/2 weeks til the baby comes. I'm gonna do some cute Pinterest things and whatever. I woke up on the third, I had a hot chocolate, and I went into labor, so I don't know, I think she knew my work was done. That describes a lot of her life, is my work, but imagine where I would be if I hadn't done those boxes early. And I think this is a way to push yourself, like what would it feel like to have a one week old baby, and have to do this task. Oh, maybe I'll just do it now, maybe I'll just get it done a little bit early. And Sara also shares with us, my son arrived a month earlier than expected. Had we not prepared so well, my leave would've been more difficult for everyone. And so that's sort of the mantra, the earlier you can prepare, the earlier you can get things running, just the less stressful it's gonna be in general. Sara told us earlier, encouraging you to do a trial run. So for her, she said some people thought it was crazy to take a vacation before the leave started. Why would you do that? But it gave her a chance for her team to see what was working, and what wasn't working, and fix it while she was still available. And then she says, we quickly closed the gaps to insure my company was set up for success. For me, this was practicing my dream four hour work day, so what would I be able to get accomplished in four hours of working a day, and that was the amount of time I assumed that I would have during naps, and maybe some working after bed, or before my daughter woke up. So, to the best of your abilities, see what a trial run would be like, as a way of sorting out, what are some things that need to be changed? Maybe some more things need to be delegated, compared to what you had thought before. So, like I said, if you're adopting, there's a whole new level of uncertainty, so I spoke with Kim Werker, and she says, "we only received 22 hours of notice "before we met our baby". And so, that's an unusual experience, but even if we had a more typical experience, she said "we would've had maybe two or three months notice". It's never going to be the same nine months that a pregnant woman has as notice, and she said that the actual experience is always fraught with uncertainty, or that is the babies birth mother going to change her mind, will something else come up, are there gonna be legal issues? So there's always a little bit of this uncertainty. So her advice, and again I had to go to her for this advice, 'cause I have no experience on this front, so she says if there's one piece of advice I have for a self-employed soon-to-be adoptive parent, its to relax the best you can into the uncertainty. Take the waiting time to try to set up your business for unexpected occurrences, for absence with little to no warning, or for times when you're just emotionally drained. So, we've been talking about the time, energy, money, all of these changes are very emotionally draining, and you may have the time, but you may not have the mental resources to handle certain issues, so anything you can prepare in advance, whether it's putting some frozen food in your freezer, these are things that are going to just help you so much when the time comes. So, that's the pre-baby preparation time, and I hope you have the message that just anything you can do to prepare is gonna be super helpful. The next phase is a short leave. So, a short leave is a near total absence, and what does this mean for you? So, this is gonna vary widely. Keep in mind the amount of money you need to earn, the seasonal calendar, what are your future business goals, and how do you like to work? Would you be refreshed by taking six full weeks off, or would you cringe to coming back with six weeks of emails you have to answer? So, this is up to you to decide how you wanna handle it, and what you're capable of, and even if you're adopting, you're always gonna need some kind of a break, to adjust to your new life. So I think that's really important to mention. So, Ellen says, after taking the first two weeks off, I did a fair amount of work during what was called the leave time. It was so much better for me to do a little bit of work along the way, than to take a long time off of work, and then come back straight to full-time work. And the amount of time you take off will vary, so Ellen's a professor, part of the reason she did things this way, so having a very little actual leave, but kind of going more quickly into what we'd call the maintenance mode, was she had trainees underneath her who would've been negatively impacted if she had just taken off five months, and also the research side of her job has very flexible hours, so it was plausible for her to be able to put in a couple hours every day, and so she could balance out her workload over a longer period of time. So as I said, you always need to plan for some brief period of leave. Even if you think you are the kind of person who's going to be sending emails from the hospital room, I really encourage you to have the auto-responders, have the systems in place for a period of leave, and if you decide to not use them, that's great, but have the systems in place. So Kim says, had our son not arrived during the holidays, he came Christmas time, I might have felt like I could've just dived right back into work immediately. And she says, good thing I didn't. Within a couple of weeks, the adrenaline wore off and we, that's her and her husband, were both exhausted all the time. So you might be tempted to think, oh if you adopt a baby, there's no physical labor involved, oh you could just jump right back into it, but the actual birth event doesn't take up that much energy. What is going to drain you is waking up with a newborn baby every couple of hours, all the time, and that's one thing that really drains you, and even if you adopt a child as a toddler, you need this time to bond. You need to learn about your new baby, you need to sort out foods, emotional adjustments, so I encourage absolutely everyone to take a little bit of time off, and to plan to take the time off, even if you are the most die-hard up and at 'em kind of person. I also encourage you, if it can fit in your schedule, to encourage the other parent to take a little bit of time off too, just so you can all get sorted and organized as a family, and be on the same page. So, seasonal businesses, if you're lucky, can take advantage of slow times. Now, not everyone gets to plan when the baby comes, like to the day, but there are, you can always try, why not? So, let's say that you're a wedding florist, and if you have a baby that's due in October, you can go through the whole summer doing the floral orders, and then you probably don't get a lot of wedding requests throughout the winter. You can just tell people you're booked, and then when it's back to wedding season again, your baby's nine months old, and you might feel like that's a great opportunity to move into childcare, and all you're doing in that leave time is answering a few emails, handling inquiries for the next summer. So Ellen says, I was very lucky to have kids right when I planned them in the first half of summer break. I'm not paid to work over the summer, and the university gives 12 weeks of maternity leave to faculty, so it allowed me to have a longer chunk off than in under industries. I similarly got equally lucky, my baby came along right after the holidays were done, and October, November, December is my go time, and then I have a lull all through spring, so that was another lucky thing. It's funny, I've talked to a lot of people, and I would say eight out of ten say, oh I got super lucky with when my baby was born, and I think not 80% of us are lucky, I think what that really means, is when you're looking for an opportunity you can find it. So if you spend a bunch of time thinking about what time of year your baby's gonna be born, and then turning down opportunities, sorting things out, you might find yourself feeling really lucky, because you're able to make things work when it's a priority for your life. Okay, so let's talk a bit about the mechanics of a short leave. You need to make sure everyone you're interacting with is on the same page about the contact mechanisms. So if you're a CEO, knowing that you should only call me on this phone number under this kind of emergency. Customers should be getting auto-responders, for example. Shops, if you're selling a physical shop, and you're not able to ship things out, consider just putting it on a vacation mode, because you don't want people to be confused about what's happening, and you don't want it to negatively impact your business. So what I have found, is if I'm up front with my customers, saying my shop is gonna be closed from this date to this date, everyone says, oh, okay. You can put up a thing that says email me when the person comes back, and that's gonna be fine. People understand that we all live lives. What people are not gonna be okay with, is if you just go missing out of the blue, people are placing orders, you're not shipping them, and you just turn up three months later, because that's really hurt your reliability. So think in advance, about what you can fulfill and what you can't, and implement the mechanisms that allow you to put it on hold. I mentioned and autoresponder, so certain things to include for an autoresponder, the approximate wait time for a reply, a brief statement about what they can expect, and I really encourage you to include resources and secondary contact information for help right away. So this could be, here's the website, here's the FAQs, here's some resources, here's some popular blog posts, and go back to thinking about this transparency conversation. Not everyone needs to know you had a baby, if you don't want them to. You can simply be on leave. In fact when I'm right here teaching, I have an autoresponder up, and it says I'm away, I won't be able to answer your email for 72 hours, and you don't have to spill every detail all the time, but if people know what to expect from you, they're a lot more comfortable with the situation. So, here's an example autoresponder with some weird fonts, 'cause I copied and pasted it. So Hi there, thanks so much for your email. On January fourth, I welcomed a new little one into our family. I am always, I'm a pretty transparent person. And until July first, I'll be on maternity leave, answering emails approximately once a week. Thanks for your patience. And then I give people resources. Here's how to get help right away, go to my website, search what you're looking for, if you're looking to learn to crochet, here's this, here's this, here's that. These are things that you can do, to get people away from needing an immediate reply from you, and I really encourage you, don't hand out an alternate way of contacting you, unless you want to actually do it, so don't give out your phone number unless you want someone to call you. You're going to have to gracefully turn down some opportunities. So think about your time line, and if you've decided for yourself, and your business, and your family, that you're gonna be on leave, I encourage you to stick to that. Sometimes you get an opportunity, and you're just like, oh, but it could be pushing yourself too hard to go ahead and take it. So a lot of times, if you say, I'm booked until X date, I don't have an opening until X date, or you say, can you wait until this time? A lot of people will be able to wait until that time, and you know, if it's not an opportunity that can wait, it might not be what's right for your life. Your business is not going to collapse because of one particular little thing. What I want you to focus on is that you're building your whole life, this whole new life, and it may mean taking some opportunities, and it may mean not taking some opportunities, so keep your priorities in mind as you're going through this. And I also want you to remember that leave means different things to different people. So, during my leave, I had to ship my club packages, I didn't answer emails, I actually did take my 2-1/2 month old daughter to a live teaching event, because I teach for a conference four times a year, and continuing to be on that roster was super important to my business. So talking about the time, money, energy equation, so I brought my husband along with me, I made absolutely no money at that teaching gig, because I had to pay for my husband's flight and everything, so he could watch the baby, but it kept my foot in the door for that opportunity, and that was what was really important to me. That was a business momentum decision, and so it's just another example, how something might not sound like, you know, it's not making you money right now, but you're looking towards the long term. During my short leave, my key was getting rid of day to day customer interactions, putting those off with an auto-reply. Someone else may have thought it was absolutely crazy to travel during their leave period, but they might think it's no big deal to answer emails every day. So, thinking about what my timeline was, I actually went on leave, which I would consider getting away from the daily business operations of my company for six months. You could've thought of it as a tiny maintenance mode, but I was doing certain things, but definitely, as far as my customers were concerned, I was gone, I was away, and I'd get to you once a week. I worked during naps and after she went to sleep for six months, so there were certainly some hiccups. One time, it was March, I remember, I got a shipment of yarn to wind for the kit club, 36 hours before it was due to go out, and so I had to stay up all night long. My husband and I were tag-teaming with the baby, through what was supposed to be my leave, and there were definitely times when I was like, are you serious, I signed up for this? But you have the future in mind, it's not just about having the perfect Pinterest maternity leave. You're balancing what is going to happen for the next few years, and the next few years beyond that. So, we traveled a lot, so the first photo is me and my little one, we're in Connecticut, we went to Australia twice the first year, on the bottom there's her at the Great Barrier Reef, we visited my Mom in Kansas, I took her teaching, I took her by myself to a trade show, and so for me, my leave period was about not being responsible to my customer for the regular interactions, but I was still pursuing things that were flexible from a time period. So, for example, I brought my daughter with me to a trade show when she was five months old. I had her in a carrier. I did a lot of talking, a lot of networking, because I knew it was an event where if she needed to go eat, if she needed to go rest, I could just bop out of the hall, and come back when she was ready. What we were talking about flexible schedules, the day was a flexible day. I just had to be there for a certain amount of time to talk to people, and actually, it was during that time that I landed a deal for a line of Yarn for Fresh Stitches, so you can do a ton of things with a little baby, but you have to be smart and mindful about what their needs are. Building in flexibility, and getting rid of things that aren't the things you wanna be spending your energy on. I did a lot of work with her in a little sling, she must be like three weeks old, two weeks old there, working at my computer, and that's a picture of my first shipment of boxes that had to go out after she was born. It doesn't sound a lot like leave, but I delayed replying to email, my web shop was closed, so I wasn't shipping what I would call normal orders. I didn't do any interviews or phone calls, because I couldn't schedule that into my day. It wasn't worth it from a time perspective, and also, I couldn't guarantee that I'd have a silent hour. I did maintain my subscription shipments, because that was a huge money maker for me, and it only happened for like a week a month, and I still taught these in-person classes, because again, it was easy for me to manage one weekend, but I didn't have the day to day obligations. What yours looks like is gonna be completely different from that, 'cause no one else runs Fresh Stitches, so there you are. Now, I would say the short leave period, you just met this baby, it's gonna be the hardest, but that was a sprint. The rest of this maintenance mode is a marathon, so you are still gonna be looking for strategies for maintaining a flexible work schedule, and keeping your earnings, while keeping your business afloat and thriving. So let's talk a bit about that. How long is this maintenance mode phase? It's whatever it looks like to you. A lot of people would say, oh yeah, something like a year, something like six months, maybe it's shorter, maybe it's longer. It could be five years. This is where you really need to go back to your worksheets, think about how much money you need to make, think about what momentum your business needs, what opportunities you can turn down. This is an incredibly personal decision. So, maintenance mode is keeping your business going at a level that you're happy with, so that's what I've been calling business momentum, spending enough time with your family, whatever that means to you, earning enough money, however much that is, keeping yourself healthy, and having a household that functions. So, some of us are just gonna keep this going, until it all falls apart. When's it end? There's a lot of signs that your business momentum is kinda going downhill, so you feel out of touch with what's happening in your industry, sales aren't just plateauing, but dropping more than you're comfortable with, you're losing passion for your job, some other metric, whatever this metric is for you, is dropping below a level of what's acceptable, and you just feel like you're completely scrambling and failing to keep up with the bare essentials. So this is kind of when you feel like the balls are hitting the ground, when you might start to consider getting more help, revving your business back up, however you're balancing the time, money, energy equation. So, setting priorities, I've been talking about that the whole time, means really being there for things that matter, and turning down things that don't matter. So, I didn't do interviews for a year, like I said, because that just, given the number of hours I had, wasn't my top priority for my business. It doesn't mean squashing all new opportunities. So, I told you about how I took my daughter to a trade show, and landed a new yarn line. That was something that I was able to do, it doesn't mean you're not taking on anything new, but you're working incredibly smart. So, a yarn line is fantastic, because I didn't have to do any physical labor, the yarn company handles the yarn, but it was an income stream for me. This time is very difficult for everyone. I really encourage you to consider major changes really seriously, to insure that they aren't solutions to a temporary problem. So, what I mean by that, you're tired, you're sleep deprived, things seem kinda like a little bit crazy. Don't go making a lot of changes, just because life feels a bit too stressful. Obviously you need to manage your stress levels, obviously you need to make sure your family's taken care of, but for example, in March, when my baby was like 2-1/2 months old, when my yarn arrived with 36 hours left, that was definitely a moment where I was like, why am I even running a business? Like I'm trying to do too much, why am I even bothering? But if I had decided to quit right then, I would've been quitting for a very temporary problem. It's only a limited period of time that your babies are so tiny, and that you maybe don't have childcare in place, and so I encourage you to stick things out for six months to a year. I advise this about haircuts too, serious problem a lot of women have, getting their hair cut all crazy when their baby's six weeks old. Just stick it out, see if you can solve the problem by eliminating, streamlining, delegating, and finding flexibility before you make huge major changes to your business, because again, this is about what your business is gonna look like in five years. So you're gonna be more tired than all of your other friends, who are either on normal maternity leave, or maybe they've decided to stay home, or maybe they're just back at work, and they have full-time childcare. You, being an entrepreneur, doing the juggling, are gonna feel so much more tired than what it seems like everyone else is doing, but you're in it for the success of your business as well, and that's a really precious gem to keep going. I encourage you to be really specific and crystal clear with your needs. You are never going to have another time in your life when absolutely everyone, including strangers, has an opinion about what you should be doing. I don't know why this is, it just is, and so it can be really hard to get advice. Everyone's gonna be telling you about sleep stuff, everyone's gonna be telling you about everything, and quite frankly, very few people are in the situation you are, which is trying to balance your business, along with balancing a family. Your situation is going to be very different from someone who is working in a normal job, or someone who stayed home. You're keeping what's kinda like two kids alive, the business kid, and the real kid. So if you go to look for advice, be very, very specific about the piece of advice you're looking for, and be sure to frame it with context. So, just saying something very vague about like, I'm tired, you're gonna get a lot of advice, but something really specific like, I have to pack my packages, and I need a half hour a day, yo Mom, what do you think? And maybe she'll volunteer to come over. That's the way you'll get specific pieces of helpful advice that won't drive you bonkers. So, here's what I did, I was in maintenance mode from six to 20 months. It was probably a tad bit longer than, it was shorter than I had thought back in fantasy land. In fantasy land, I thought I would just watch my daughter at home until she was like four. In actual life, my daughter doesn't apparently need sleep, so where other moms were having these babies who slept for 12 hours a night, and took four hour naps, no lie, someone just told me this the other day. I was like 16 hours a day? The kid's never even awake, of course you get all your work done. My daughter sleeps nine to ten hours a night, and takes like a one hour nap, so my working during naps didn't work out like the dream way I thought it would be. Around 18 moths-ish, I was like wow, I really need some serious help here, and it took us longer to find a daycare that would work for us, than we thought. So, starting at 13 months, I had three hours. I had two college students come three hours, two times a week, and then 20 months, she entered daycare. What happened during maintenance mode, I opened up my web shop, and was shipping regular orders. I still kind of minimized the exploratory work, and didn't do that many interviews, and I redesigned my subscription club, to change it to a digitally based club instead of a physically based one. So I was still, I was back in the daily job of running my business, but I changed a couple things up to make it more efficient, so that I was still doing what I need to do for my job, and doing my earnings. Alright, this is the final stage, your new integrated life. This is what comes at the completion of maintenance mode. You're ready to rev your business back up, and this is just gonna last for like 18 years. Some things are always true with your new life, someone needs to be on call when the kid's sick, that's gonna be true when the child is one year old, and it's gonna be true when they're ten years old too. So this is the long haul, so I want you to think long and hard about what you are capable of managing, and what kind of help, and what kind of resources you need to get there. How do you know when it's time to rev back up? Your child might be ready, so for me, my daughter was like 19 months old or so, and she was on the playground, and she held a little girl's hand, and then she ran over, and she was like, my friend, my friend, and I was like, oh, you do need to meet kids, don't you? You're ready. Another sign is you're ready, so maybe you are just like, you know what? It's time we move on from this. Another sign, you find yourself overly dependent on really precarious timing. So like I said, my daughter's not a huge sleeper, and my day would be completely derailed if she decided to take a 30 minute nap, instead of a two hour nap. I could no longer make my business function on such an erratic timetable, and I got to the point where I was, I just felt, I so desperately just wanted her to nap, that I wasn't even engaging as a parent in the way I wanted to do, because I had all this work I had to do, and that was a clear sign I needed more help. Another sign is your family budget or situation requires it, or your business momentum requires it. So, if you need to start earning more money, or your business feels like it's starting to fall apart, these are all signs that you might start revving back up. Kim says, by the time my son was about five months old, I was dying to get back to work, 'cause babies are super boring. So, this is just a great example. This is different for everyone. Some people love being at home with a baby, some people don't love being at home with a baby. So, it's totally up to you, you have to feel it out, and sometimes you can't plan it in advance. You might be really surprised. I've definitely known mothers who thought they would be back to work at six weeks, no problem whatever, and then they fell in love with this baby, and they're like, what? It's really hard to go back. And you just never know. It's just important to keep your priorities in mind, and not fantasies about what life should look like with a six month old, or what life should look like with a 12 year old, not 12, well, or a 12 year old, but a 12 month old. You have a priorities list, you've been working through what you need to do, and you just need to orient everything around that. I know it's easy to get really caught up in what this phase should be like, or this phase should be like. People just march to their own drum, and babies too, so I know when my daughter was little, oh at six weeks she'll start sleeping, oh at three months she'll totally start sleeping through the night. She's 2-1/2 and she still has never slept through the night yet, so don't let people tell you what your child is going to do next month, because you actually just never know. You may find that you don't want to go back to work full time, but because you've had so much great experience delegating, streamlining, that you can do a full time job in fewer hours a day. So I do recommend for fun reading, the Four Hour Work Week. I think that's a goal that's probably too lofty, but I aim for the four to six hour work day. My systems are streamlined, I am sleek as a slippery sleek thing, and so I can do a full day of work in fewer hours than that, because I've put these systems into place. And you don't know how schedules are gonna change, so I hit what I call full throttle sooner than I expected, because I got a really good job offer that I couldn't refuse, so I had the offer to consult with a yarn company, and be their marketing director, and it was completely a surprise to me, but it was in line with my ten year goals for my business, and so your timing is gonna change based on the opportunities that are available to you. We also moved kind of unexpectedly, when my daughter was little, and moved to a place where we had even less support system than we had before, so what you're gonna do when you don't have friends or family around, changes your view of the childcare situation as well, so it's all up to you, and what you're doing. So my new integrated life started at about 20 months, my daughter goes to daycare from eight AM to three PM, five days a week, so that's how our life is. I started ordering new products when I hit this phase, I started applying to new teaching gigs, I took a new consulting job, and of course, started giving interviews again. So, that's what life looks like now, and it's great. And you're still weighing off your priorities and your energy, and you're gonna be doing that, I think, for the rest of your life. You are never, I think this is true, you're never gonna be able to avoid times when you just feel like all these balls you're juggling are just about to drop to the ground. So, last week, well okay, so two weeks ago I was away at a trade show, and my husband stayed home for the weekend with our daughter, then for a week, he went to Spain, 'cause he was teaching, and I was home alone, and I was preparing for my CreativeLive class, and okay, no worries, we all got this, and then my daughter, I, no lie, came home sat down at my table and got a phone call from daycare that she's been throwing up and won't stop, I had to go get her right now, and so that was one of my workdays that I really needed to get the class together, and you're never gonna be able to avoid those things, because life isn't perfect. All you can do is set up backup plans, I personally don't schedule anything for my Fridays. My Fridays are catch up days, so if something happens on a Tuesday, I'm prepared to make up for it on a Friday. We as entrepreneurs are kinda like strivers, go getters, always trying to see what's new, pushing the boundary, and sometimes that means we just get in over our heads. The other thing I think that's interesting to point out is that society places a lot of expectations on us, that we just can't meet. We've all seen the Pinterest DIY things, the Instagram beautiful houses, and we get the impression that we're supposed to do our jobs and have a perfect house, and do all these things, and a lot of those things are expectations that we just can't meet. So be reasonable with your expectations. This is a story I absolutely love, from Wendy. So Wendy, at the time, was a sales rep for a bookseller, so she says, I was on the road every other week, and I had a really important appointment, a sales call, which means an in-person visit, to my biggest client. I booked these appointments a couple months in advance. My husband was supposed to get back from a trip in the afternoon, the same day that I was scheduled to leave. His flight got canceled, and I had to decide if it was more unprofessional to cancel an appointment or to bring my kid along. So what she ended up doing, was bringing her daughter, like a two year old, along with her, sitting in appointments at bookstores from Atlanta to Birmingham, so like a week road trip. And as it turns out, it ended with her most important one, and by that time she had heard the presentation eight times, and so she said, "don't forget "to show her the gate folds Mommy!", which were like some technical printing term, so the buyer cracked up, and it worked out fine, but we're always put into certain situations, where nothing's perfect, and you might have to make awkward decisions, and so in this one, she brought her daughter along, and it all worked out fine. I think your new mantra for life should be eliminating things that aren't priorities. There's plenty of things that can take up your time, without worrying about things that aren't really important. So Ellen says, I've had to accept letting go of a few of the ideals I had about raising my kids, like never buying prepared baby food, having them be competent swimmers by age three, and how to manage a household, like having a non-disgusting bathroom. My husband fortunately feels the same way, so we just lowered expectations across the board for me, and that's been a key to us having a less stressful household. Which I think is a perfect way to go about it. Sara, for Stand for Mom says, people love to talk about balance, but that word drives me bananas. I don't know what other women think when they hear it, but to me it sounds like I need to fit everything into my day, the exercise, the healthy eating, deep learning activities, emotional connection with my children, extremely purposeful work, and so much more, and it's just not possible to fit that into one day. So I encourage you to think about what your priorities are, fitting those into your day, and consider how you can let the other things just drop.

Class Description

If the term “maternity leave” makes you nervous, you’re not alone.

The big challenge: stepping away from life for 3 months with the expectation of returning to work after maternity leave like nothing happened. Many working women already put in 12 hours a day, so how does one manage with fewer? This common practice is particularly detrimental to small business owners, who find their business slipping away during maternity leave, along with confused and disappointed customers, even when the business has returned to normal.

There’s a better way.

Instead of a traditional maternity leave, in How to Take Maternity Leave without your Putting Life on Hold, Stacey will show you how to put your business into maintenance mode for as long as you want: keeping your business functioning at a high level to keep your customers happy, but not requiring your full-time attention. It will make returning to work after maternity leave much more seamless.  

Many business owners spend time on tasks that are not essential. By eliminating these excess activities, you can distill your business into a few hours a day of powerful productivity. Keep your business going while still spending the time with your family that only comes once in a lifetime. When you’re returning to work after maternity leave, you’ll find that your newly-discovered efficiency has transformed your business. You may even decide to limit work to a few hours a day, permanently!

You’ll Learn How To:

·       Determine which tasks in your business are worth your time and attention

·       Streamline your business down to the bare essentials, creating successful systems

·       Calculate how much money you need to earn during your leave, and work the minimum number of hours to achieve it

·       Take advantage of ‘down time’ in productive ways

·       Decide when to hire out tasks, even if you’ve never considered hiring contractors before

·       Find non-standard childcare options… there’s more than full-time daycare!

·       Effortlessly shift your business back into ‘full-rev’ mode

During Stacey’s daughter’s first year, she earned 65% of what she earned the previous year, working during baby’s naps and in the evenings. She was able to do this by streamlining her business and working on only what brought in results, cutting work time down to a couple of hours a day. Her daughter entered traditional daycare when she was 20 months old, with a transition that was seamless to customers, because it appeared as if she had been working full-time all along.

Learn how you can apply Stacey’s techniques and strategies to your maternity leave plan. Even if you’re not a small business owner, you’ll find ways to assess and streamline your work, make time for this once-in-a-lifetime period,  manage childcare, rev up and get back in the game.   


Patrice Horvath

Thank you for making such an important class!!! This is a topic we all really need to talk about openly and have some guidance on! I'm 29, recently married and went freelance last year because I knew I'd want flexibility when I started a family. My business has gained momentum recently and this will course be so important to have handy during the next few years when I start a family to help me maintain my business. Thank you, very excited!