Advertise on WAHM

Handling Maternity Leave When You Are Self-Employed

There are several things you should contemplate when planning a maternity leave...when you're your own boss. Determine how much time you will need off, and then go from there. Consider the relationship you have with your clients, consider what you can prepare ahead of time before your absence, and have a plan of attack for when you do return to work.

I vividly remember walking into my boss' office very nervously before announcing I was expecting with my first—the good news, after all, meant an impending maternity leave. But after becoming a work-at-home mom when my son was a few months old, I had to tackle a new challenge with my second pregnancy: how do you take maternity leave when you are self-employed?

It's a common worry among expectant work-at-home moms—the dread of losing clients that find a replacement while you are on maternity leave, the stress of losing weeks of income. But while maternity leave is certainly tougher when you are your own boss (and secretary, bookkeeper, janitor...) when handled properly, it is possible to take time off for your new baby and for your own recovery. Here are five tips to manage maternity leave as a work-at-home mom.

Determine how much time to take off.

While sometimes unexpected circumstances may mean you need a longer leave, decide how much time you'd ideally like to take off. Keep in mind that you don't have to jump back in full force. You can decide to work a half schedule for a few weeks as well. Will you have childcare, or will you be fitting work in with caring for a baby when you return? Are you the type of person that goes stir crazy easily, or are you more laid back? Asking yourself these questions will help you determine how much time to take off.

Notify long-term clients as soon as you can.

You have months to plan for the new arrival—give long-term clients the courtesy of being able to plan ahead as well. In some cases, you may be able to work ahead on some projects, or help train a temporary replacement. Let them know if you are willing to do extra work beforehand, and what your plans are for returning to work.

Determine what you can do ahead of time.

If your work allows for it, tackle some projects ahead of time. As a freelance writer, I was able to work ahead on several articles so most of my clients didn't need to look for a temporary replacement. However, taking on extra work while pregnant is tough, so don't try to tackle more than you can handle. Determine how much extra time you can dedicate to working ahead on projects while still being able to get enough rest to take care of yourself and your baby.

Determine how to notify clients once baby arrives.

How will you let clients know when your leave has started, if you plan to work up until the baby's grand entrance? Plan ahead of time, so you're not scrambling to notify people with a newborn. Arrange an email or phone call out to long-term clients. Set up an automated email response and voice mail for any inquiring potential clients that reach out—and don't forget to include a return date. If you use social media or a website to promote your business, use those to notify clients when you will be back as well.

Plan your post-leave work schedule in advance.

Will you have childcare on certain days of the week after your leave? Having a plan in place for returning to work will help your clients feel confident in your ability to return to work. Let them know if your work schedule will be changing. If you already have kids with a work schedule that works well, let them know that you'll be keeping the same schedule.

Taking time off in any form is trickier when you are self-employed, especially for a long stretch of time after having a baby. But taking time for the new baby and yourself is necessary, and with a little pre-planning, it's certainly achievable.

Work From Home Jobs