I'm Laurelyn, a Wisconsin-based brand photographer + strategist for powerhouse women-owned brands. Here you can expect tips for developing your brand to reach your ideal audience, balance work + life, and more!
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How an Extended Maternity Leave Impacted My Business
Let me start by saying that it was NOT easy to turn off my work brain. And no, I did not do a perfect job staying away from my business entirely. I knew that going into my extended out of office time for maternity leave that I would be tempted to work. After all, my business has been my baby for 13 years, and my actual baby is just a few weeks old. Talk about an adjustment!
What’s more is that I LOVE what I do. I love my family too, but as an Enneagram 2 wing 1, I’m driven to help others and pursue my passions eagerly. It’s who I am.
Bottom line: It was not easy to take 4 months off from my business.
Okay, but more practically speaking, how did my extended leave impact my business? Here are my key takeaways so far:
Having a support system and team is everything. And it doesn’t even have to be an in-person support system or team! My business support system (aside from my personal system) looked like a VA, a photo editor, and my associate photographers (for my wedding business that I run but no longer photograph for).
Expect the unexpected. I knew I would feel all sorts of things, and want more time with my family. I also knew I didn’t want to leave my clients hanging! I spent months in advance of my leave prepping resources, faqs, email templates, and systems. I left all of these for my VA to follow while I was out. Even when I didn’t have any brand photo or video sessions on the calendar for those 4 months, I knew there would be important emails and communication. I needed to send reminders and followups. I needed to answer questions and inquiries. Thankfully, my VA and I have been working together for over a year, so she knows me!
Grace, grace, and more grace. And patience. My clients have been so understanding, and that’s the perk of working with powerhouse women. Many of them also have partners, spouses, children, and they know how life goes. Things happen, and even as much as we prepare, there will be unknowns. It’s been really important to give myself grace and be patient with myself, just as I would a best friend. So yes, I had lots of plans in place, but I also knew my clients understood and were aware. They were giving me grace, so I needed to give myself some, too.
Financial stability. I felt relief largely also because I had been saving for leave for months. Basically since I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks along, I had been planning and saving. When you work for yourself, no one will pay you maternity leave. You have to do that part yourself, so I wanted to set myself up for financial success and plan a lean time for my leave. I shared in much more detail in this post about prepping financially for leave. Feel free to check that out for more.
Maternity leave was great on some days, and challenging on other days. Sometimes both in the same day! If you’re a parent or have siblings, you get it.
Overall though, I wasn’t too worried about how my leave would impact my business itself, beyond the impact on my clients.
So I’m back and happier than ever to have a support system! I’m able to be a mom as well as run my business the way I want to. I don’t have to choose one or the other. That gives me so much joy!
I won’t ever be perfect or have the perfect balance, but I’ll have the opportunity to fill multiple roles and be fulfilled. Cheers to new mom life! It’s SO messy, and also so worth it.