Planning your maternity leave as a coach

So in case you haven’t already heard the news, I’m pregnant!

I’m expecting my second child in January. I already have an almost 5 year old son called Finley, and when I was pregnant with him I had recently become completely self employed as a coach and blogger.

Since I’ll be doing the whole maternity leave thing again, I thought this would be a great time to share a post on how I’m planning for my mat leave as a coach in January (or possibly earlier, more on that in a sec!) and some tips on how you can think about your maternity leave if you’re a coach too!

So back when I had Finley in 2014, I’d been running my business for a while and it was going really well – I was in the middle of writing a recipe book with D&K (Grains as Mains), I had a bunch of health coaching clients, a community project and had just started taking on some business coaching and web design clients too. I had it planned out that the book would be finished and my clients sorted well before my due date – for some reason I thought I’d probably go overdue.

Well, the Universe had other plans! I had Finley 5 weeks early. We then found out he had a very serious heart defect which needed open heart surgery. Out of his first 8 weeks, 4 of them were spent in hospital.

I also still had a recipe book to finish and several clients to wrap up! I managed to finish the recipe book and some of the clients but for a few of them I had to offer refunds. I ended up working a lot during his first few months and he started nursery when he was 6 months old.

It certainly wasn’t the maternity leave I had planned. This time round I feel much more prepared and my business also looks very different.

Here’s how I plan to approach maternity leave this time round – bearing in mind that things could change of course!

I plan to wrap up all 1-2-1 client work by the end of November. I’m launching my Create Your Coaching Business Course in September and that’s going to be my income focus, alongside growing the membership of my Wholehearted Business Club where I’ll be bringing in a guest coach to run the group sessions for 3 – 4 months. I’m going to be completely rejigging Wholeheartedly Laura over the summer too and I feel like a new income stream is going to come out of that as well.

I’ll still work until I have the baby, reducing the hours I do as needed, but without the 1-2-1 work as there’s always the possibility that I’ll have another prem baby!

Once the baby comes I’m going to feel out what happens next – I was so tempted to say to myself here that I’ll take a few months off completely etc, but when I think back, those first 2-3 months it is actually easier to get some work in as the baby is asleep a lot during the day. I personally found it much more challenging once Finley turned 4 months as the naps reduced and I didn’t want to be working when I could be playing with him!

I’m also aware of my own wellbeing and need for rest – but at the same time, my creativity likes to be engaged too. I’m going to take a fourth trimester approach and really try and minimise what work I do as far as is possible for the first 3 months, but leaving space for myself to do some work if that feels good.

With the way my business is set up, I’m hoping I can still generate some income from my more passive sources with just a couple of hours a week checking in on things.

Finance wise, we’re going to take a mortgage break and I’ll be getting statutory maternity pay. I also have some money saved up to help us get over those first few months.

Finley started nursery at 2 days a week when he was 6 months as well as spending a day a week with my Mum, and I think that we’ll do this again.

Being self employed, maternity leave is unlikely to look like the 9 month – a year that some of your employed friends might get (at least in the UK) – but what I’ve always found is that the pros of having much more flexibility throughout your child’s life outweighs the negatives.

So, right now, that’s how I’m hoping things will go!

If you’re a coach and you’re thinking about your maternity leave here’s a few things you might want to consider:

  • When do you need to have completely wrapped up 1-2-1 client work? When do you feel you might like to start that up again after the baby is born?
  • Can you create any more passive sources of income that could potentially continue to generate income over your maternity leave with just a couple of hours input a week? Is that something you’d want to do anyway?
  • What do your finances look like? What benefits are you entitled to? What length of maternity leave is realistic based on these factors?
  • What are your contingency plans in case the baby comes early?
  • How do you plan to ‘keep touch’ with your audience over your leave? Do you need to prepare any emails or blog posts before you go off?
  • How can you factor in your self care needs, especially in the fourth trimester (the 3 months after the baby is born).

I hope those tips and my experiences give you something to think about! Ultimately, you just don’t know how you’re going to feel or what your baby is going to be like until they arrive.

I know some people have babies that sleep great, they have the energy to still get lots done and that’s fab – but then you might feel exhausted and have a nap dodger! That’s why my best tip is to be prepared to go with the flow.

One of the reasons I wanted to work for myself as a coach was because I wanted this lifestyle – the flexibility to be able to work around my children while they’re little. Making maternity leave work for me is part of that too.

I’d love to know if you have any questions! If you’ve already taken time off as a coach to have your baby, what did that look like for you? What tips would you add?

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