We’re a little less than 2 weeks from our baby boy’s due date!
And while I’ve shared about my pregnancy a little bit on social media and in my newsletter, I think this might be the first time I’ve mentioned it on the blog.
I’m thrilled to embark on this new chapter and plan to take 3 months off to soak it all in and adjust to life with a little one.
I have exciting plans for my return (like website updates and a new Squarespace series!), but I wanted to share how I’m preparing for some time away before I disappear for a few months.
However. Before I dive in, a disclaimer might be in order.
I’m very much a planner.
But with my husband graduating from seminary this past May, moving to a new state in August, finding out I was pregnant a few days after the move, and adjusting to our new life in Florence, I’ve learned to be flexible with my plans.
(Hence the fewer number of blog posts and newsletters lately!)
I have absolutely no idea what maternity leave will look like, and it’s been difficult to plan with so many unknowns.
So I reached out for tips and advice from other moms in the industry and landed on this super helpful blog post from Nancy Ray Photography on how she planned for time off.
Nancy has taken time off after having each of her two little girls and also has experience leading a team during a time of transition, and I found her tips to be very practical. I took a lot away from her as I came up with my own “plan.”
I know that I may not follow this plan to a T.
But I also know that a little preparation and goal setting will be helpful for truly stepping away and getting back in the swing of things in July.
So that said, here’s how I’m going about it!
1 | Setting dates
The first step. How much time to take off?
Our baby’s due date is April 7th, so I’ve decided to officially go on leave April 1st (unless he surprises us and comes ahead of schedule!).
In all honesty, I’ve already started cutting back on the number of hours I’ve been working, taking on less client work and finishing up the latest round of my Adobe Illustrator Basics course.
But come April 1st, I’m going to close my laptop and take a solid 3 months off. I plan to return at the start of July.
I know it will take time to adjust to a new routine (or lack thereof!) with a little one, and I didn’t want the pressure of getting back to work to loom over me.
But what a blessing it is to work for myself and be able to choose! One of the many things I’m grateful for about running my own business.
2 | Handling emails
My inbox can get a little out of hand as it is. Even with the help of my assistants, I often get a little overwhelmed by it and want to avoid it altogether.
So I was a little leery of simply putting up an autoresponder and coming back to goodness-knows-how-many emails that would need to be addressed.
Then I read that blog post from Nancy Ray and saw her approach to emails during her time off.
I crafted a similar autoresponder:
Thanks so much for your email. I am currently on maternity leave until July 2, 2018. We are so excited to welcome our baby boy into our family this April!
If you are a current or potential client or affiliate, you are very important to us! You will hear from my team within 72 hours. If you are inquiring about coaching or branding services, I am still accepting bookings during this time and my team looks forward to connecting with you!
All other emails received will be deleted from my inbox, which may seem extreme. But I know how important it is to completely step away from my business in order to be fully present with my family during this time. If you would like to get in touch with me, please resend your email when I’m back at work beginning in July.
Thank you so much for your understanding!
I know, I thought it was a little extreme to say I’ll be deleting all other emails. But it will set an expectation for those who get in contact with me and it will be so nice to come back to a clean inbox in July!
In the meantime, my assistants are helping me get back down to inbox 0, and one of them will be checking, responding, and sorting through my inbox while I’m gone.
3 | Communicating with my team
I have two part-time assistants who’ve been helping me for well over a year now. Each of them works for me remotely.
One of them is my best friend, Jenny, who just so happens to be pregnant and due with her first baby just 8 days after me. And my other assistant, Marisa, is busy planning for a wedding this summer.
Needless to say, it’s an exciting year for the Elle & Company team!
Because Jenny and I will be on maternity leave, Marisa will be running the show for the next 3 months.
I knew it would be important to set expectations ahead of time and determine how we would communicate with each other during my time off.
Marisa and I decided to start having weekly check-in phone calls on the same day and time after our little one is a few weeks old, and we’ll continue to communicate on Slack (which is how we communicate 90% of the time now) for quick questions and feedback.
4 | Taking a break from content
Back in the fall, I had dreams of getting far ahead on content and having blog posts, social media posts, and newsletters written and scheduled while I’m taking time off.
That didn’t happen, but it might be a blessing in disguise.
When I post new content, I like to be actively engaged in promoting it and getting back with comments. Automation is a great thing, but when I automate and schedule posts I often feel disconnected with those of you on the other side of the screen.
I’ve also written over 400 blog posts in the past 4 years, and this will be my first break from writing.
I’ll definitely miss it, but it will give me something to look forward to when I return!
5 | Setting exciting goals for my return
Speaking of things to look forward to, I knew that it might be hard to come back to work after 3 full months off with our baby boy.
But I have some exciting things in the works that already have me looking forward to my return in July.
I have some new website updates that I’ve been working on for the last couple months, and they involve making the website even more resourceful and user-friendly for you.
There’s also a brand new Squarespace series in the works! My Squarespace posts are nearly 3 years old, but they continue to be some of the most popular posts on this site. I plan to expand on the how-to posts, include new updates, and share about topics I haven’t covered in the past. Those of you who use Squarespace, are interested in making the switch, or plan to start your website in the upcoming months will want to stay tuned!
And the launch of next round of my signature course, Freelance Academy, will be right around the corner come July. So I’m excited to dive into updates and all the work that goes into registration and kicking it off for the third time.
So there you have it! A look at how I’m planning for extended time off with my little one.
But in the meantime, here are some Elle & Company favorites to keep you busy while I’m gone:
I would love to hear from you!
We’ll be doing a lot of content planning during my maternity leave so that we can jump right back into weekly blog posts, newsletters, and Ellechats in July.
With that being said, I'd love to hear from you! I've created a content questionnaire to help inform my content for the rest of 2018. Would you consider taking the survey?
I would love to hear from you!