6 Maternity Leave Plan Mistakes I Made As a Self-Employed Work From Home Mom

Maternity Leave Plan Mistakes - Tips for planning maternity leave for self-employed business owners.
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Self-employed and expecting? Avoid the maternity leave plan mistakes I made as a solopreneur. My son is officially a toddler. It’s hard to believe how quickly these past two years have gone by. While I love every second of motherhood, I’ve learned a lot, so I’m writing this article today to share with others who may find it helpful. Maybe there’s a mama out there looking for guidance, anxious about motherhood, or needing some company between nap times; I’m here with you, sis. By the way, I recently discovered “nap trap,” a new word I cannot stop using!

Either way, I wanted to reflect on what I could have done better when mapping out my maternity leave plan as a self-employed business owner. I hope sharing my mishaps will save you time, energy, and money or help you avoid feeling frustrated or disappointed. Learn from my lessons and take charge of your leave with confidence and peace of mind.

6 Mistakes To Avoid Planning Maternity Leave

To get you all caught up, I recommend reading this article, in which I share how to plan for maternity leave as an entrepreneur. I even include ways I fully funded my four-month leave.  

Listen to that podcast episode here!

Listen on Apple Podcasts Spotify | Pandora Amazon Music | Any podcast player

Cliff notes version? 

My approach was two-fold: I fronted client work and created additional passive income streams.  

For context, I am a full-time travel and personal finance content creator and podcasting coach based in the United States. In addition to this blog, I produce The Thought Card Podcast and run a paid newsletter, Grants For Creators. I do not have a salary nor qualify for state parental leave benefits. For funding maternity leave, I was 100% on my own.

Kid's Cab at Adirondack Experience.

During pregnancy, I focused on maximizing client work, fully booking out my roster. I also took on freelance writing gigs and created self-paced workshops to generate passive income. I was hustling!

Despite our unexpected pre-term birth, we successfully saved and took a four-month maternity leave. I’m proud of this fact because it was so hard. Saving up four months of salary quickly demanded much of our family. We are big believers that if there’s a will, there’s a way, and despite the hardship, we found our way.

This brings me to my first mistake: mapping out our finances with a seven month timeline.

1. Shorten your planning time 

When we found out we were pregnant, the clock started ticking. We had around seven months until our due date, so we planned our financial goals around that estimation.

Of course, we pray for a happy, healthy, and full-term pregnancy, but calculating savings goals based on 7-9 months wasn’t helpful. If you have a preterm delivery or other complications that make you unable to work during your pregnancy, you have significantly less time to reach your financial goals.

Plan conservatively so you have enough breathing room to save well before your baby arrives. I would give ourselves four to five months to hustle and save for maternity leave. Because of this abbreviated timeline, that would mean we would have to perhaps shorten our maternity leave to be able to reach that goal, so there’s a bit of give-and-take here.

2. Not saving enough for hospital bills

Unfortunately, this one I’m still dealing with.

As a brand new entrepreneur, I did not understand the weight of responsibility that came with funding your health insurance. While I planned our monthly premiums, I had no idea how much to estimate for out-of-pocket birth expenses. 

Not saving for our deductibles was a big mistake. After our son’s birth, we received an enormous hospital bill, which we are still working to pay down two years later. 

My advice is to anticipate maxing your deductible and use that amount as a savings goal for out-of-pocket health expenses.

3. Batch your work and schedule 

As a podcaster, having a consistent release schedule is very important. However, due to my shortened pregnancy, I did not get to plan nearly as much as I wanted to. I wish I had pre-scheduled podcast episodes and blog posts to maintain my online presence.

Although I was working really hard to reach our financial goals, I overlooked setting up my business so I wouldn’t miss a beat while away. As with most things in life, having a balanced approach comes in handy here. 

4. Think less about work 

I’ll admit I was anxious about not working for four months. I worried about our finances running out prematurely when I really shouldn’t have been. 

When creating our maternity leave plan, we carefully calculated how much we were budgeting for parental leave. I really should have trusted the process and not tried to come back to work early. I hope to set stronger boundaries in the future. 

I wish I considered working less and enjoyed more time with my son. They really do grow up fast. Instead, I tried to cram in work during nap hours when I should have been resting and hydrating. Also, there is nothing wrong with a little boredom! 

Here’s a list of travel books and podcasts to keep you entertained:

My advice here is to trust your carefully crafted paid maternity leave plan. Sure, you want to ensure you’re on track with spending, but release any negative thoughts and emotions about money. 

You are enough. You’ve done everything in your power to plan ahead. Feel confident in your ability to take time off because you did all of the hard work to get to this point. 

If you’re struggling with your money mindset, I recommend reading You’re a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero.

5. You’ll have less time than you think 

Maternity leave expectations vs. reality.

Hint: Not everything goes according to plan.

As a first-time mama, I had no idea what to expect. I’m the first to get married and have a baby in my friend group. This meant I needed a close-knit support network to ask for help and advice. I could only ask for trusted motherhood advice from my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Even though I tried to read many blogs and watched dozens of YouTube videos to prepare, nothing came close to my lived experience. 

From what I heard, I would have free time. So, I had expectations of going to the gym, getting my nails done, and more. Those were all rubber balls I let go of quickly. 

Here’s the reality: Between naps, feedings, playing, burping, and bathing, there’s little time for much else.

6. Ask for help 

If you have the support of your trusted loved ones, don’t feel guilty asking for help. I struggled with this because I thought I was burdening others instead of seeing their genuine offer.

This took me a while to get over, but I’m in a good place. I’m at the point where I will gladly accept help. My family lets us plan date nights, occasional outings with our friends, and short vacations. We are so grateful.

I’m not saying you should take advantage of others, but utilize the support you have. 

Easy hikes in the Adirondacks

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s not a cliché. It is the truth! 

You will probably need help, whether you decide to daycare, hire a nanny, or enlist your close loved ones. Asking for help also goes for your spouse or significant other. We’ve learned to communicate our needs better, accommodate one another, and work as a team.

I hope you found this blog post helpful and offered ways to make the most of your maternity leave. 

How are you planning for maternity leave? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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