8 months to go, 6 months to go, 3 weeks to go...time certainly flies when you or your partner are expecting. Couple this with a self employed or new startup work / lifestyle and bingo, wham, it can be an explosive and life changing time for everyone in more ways than one!
With this in mind, we thought it wise to share a few hopefully handy pointers on managing maternity when self employed, so that you, or your expecting partner can best plan for the inevitable life change ahead...
What are your rights?
Do self employed folk / freelancers have maternity rights? Of course as we have a wide audience base from across the globe, the answer will most likely depend and be affected by where in the world you live. However, irrespective of where you live, take the time to research and take into account what maternity rights and allowances you may (or may not) be applicable for. Simply search for ‘maternity rights + self employed’ where you live and refer yourself to the respective government website for guidelines. As the goalposts will be very different depending on where you live, it's best you research this and take any allowances, or otherwise, into account as soon as possible - managing cash flow will be extremely important during this period.
Or rather - don't leave it to the last minute. The reality is that business, and your customers, whilst appreciating your personal circumstances, will not expect it to get in the way, or in fact affect in any way the service or products you provide. They are unlikely to accept poor service, produce or delivery, just because you've had a new baby - and fair enough! So, hopefully, if you’re reading this with more than just a few weeks to go, it’s time to think of and then implement a company strategy for managing and thriving during this period of undoubted change. 'Thriving' may mean simply taking a sabbatical from self employment (if financially able) and really enjoying, thriving and embracing parenthood, or just trying to work alongside your partner (if that's the case) to split the overall workload so that your work can continue. Having a company strategy and then implementing it, will set your own expectations up, and then likewise you can then start to manage the expectations of others.
Work out your finances
Unless you have a really established business that does not rely on you doing much actual physical work and having to drum up new or repeat business (we want that business!) chances are that your time will be rather limited during at least the first few months. Therefore it shouldn't come as a surprise that alongside statutory maternity pay / maternity allowance being no much more than the 'minimum', if you do continue to work and earn the bucks, your income will most likely take a drop. So working backwards, and taking into account that childcare (and costs) will continue to be a factor, forecast your profit and loss and your cash flow for x amount of months that being on maternity / returning to work / working part time will affect your overall business income. In turn, that will at least aid you in working out how much money you have to play with during this period.
Clear your workload
If you do simply decide that during maternity you will do no more than be a full time mother (it's a full time job in itself) you need to make plans to clear your diary and workload at least a month or so ahead of your due date - babies can arrive early don't you know! There's no point taking on a new job with a prospective client two weeks before you are due, unless you've really planned how you would manage that job, and not only manage it, but continue to exceed expectations. Therefore it might be wise to just shut up shop, or at least create a gap in the diary and then simply explain to your client / customer base that this will be the case. More often than not your customer or client will respect your forward thinking and professionalism in making sure that you manage the process of maternity effectively and in a professional manner.
Whatever you decide to do, the reality is that it's generally a lot easier with support than it is on your own. Perhaps you can ask friends and family to support both your work and childcare, and perhaps if nothing else they can lend an ear and a shoulder when you need it the most. Managing maternity can be a tough nut to crack - after all both your job and your new family member might be like a baby to you, but having the support of others around you will certainly help if not aid if not even amplify the success you have in both areas of your work / life.
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