Back in the March NRP Newsletter (sign up for our newsletter in the sidebar if you haven’t already!), I wrote all about planning for my maternity leave. If you missed it, don’t worry – I’m including the highlights below. Right now I’m in the “re-entry” phase, and I am so grateful I included September as the month of “easing back into work.”
I thought my photographer mama friends were all a little crazy for telling me I needed to take off 4 months for maternity leave if I could. 4 months? 1/3 of my entire year? And here I sit, Milly is 3 1/2 months old, and I cannot believe how busy I’ve been taking care of her. Here are a few of my thoughts before having Milly: “I can’t wait for maternity leave! I’ll be able to watch the entire 10 seasons of Friends! I’ll read all of the Harry Potter series! I’ll train for a race this fall!” And all you Moms can go ahead and laugh… I’m laughing too! I did none of those things, except for watch the first 2 seasons of Friends while feeding Milly.
I am incredibly grateful for taking this time off. Time is so precious and fleeting while she is so tiny. I don’t think my heart could have taken it if I went back to work any earlier! It’s really amazing how God changes our hearts to be exactly what we need to be for our kids. Before I had her, I thought I’d go crazy not working for 4 months. Yet I’ve been more fulfilled and I’ve worked harder than ever the past 4 monthsas a mama, investing all my time and energy in caring for her little life. I’m nervous about returning full time, but I know it’s time and it’s good.
So here I am, currently:
– blogging while she takes her 2nd nap of the day
– lining up childcare for the months to come
– giving myself a whole lotta grace (see point #2)
– being an email ninja every chance I get (I have NOT missed emails one bit!)
– preparing for my 3 upcoming weddings and 3 upcoming speaking engagements to finish out my year
I am proud to say I successfully implemented my “5 Ways to Plan for Maternity Leave” that I wrote about back in March. If you are pregnant and hoping to take a maternity leave, I’d highly recommend implementing everything below and listening to Michael Hyatt’s How to take a One Month Sabbatical. I used his podcast as a guide in taking my maternity leave and it was so helpful!
1. Decide your timeline
Defining the time you begin and end your maternity leave is very important. We decided on 4 months : May 10th through September 30th. The month of September is my “re-entry month,” and knowing that I have October 1st to look forward to will be helpful for me to mentally and emotionally prepare for the fall wedding season.
2. Prepare and Delegate
Prepare first. I made a giant list of everything that only I do on a daily basis. Then, I delegated it all to my team! We had several “maternity leave planning meetings” prior to our baby’s arrival. These were so helpful, because I would outline all of my responsibilities, and delegate a few more each time until none were left. I also had email training sessions on “how to answer emails to vendors and clients,” editing training with Callie, and booking training with Will.
We had monthly meetings to plan and prepare for maternity leave as a team. They continued the team meetings while I have been on maternity leave, so that they could be on the same page and communicate while I wasn’t there.
4. Delete all emails
I listened to this podcast on How to Take a Sabbatical by Michael Hyatt, and it changed my entire perspective on my maternity leave. The best piece of advice I received from his podcast? His email auto response that he setup to say “Every email will be deleted as soon as it arrives in my inbox. Please email me when I return! If you have an emergency, please email __ or __ . ” WOW. After much thought, I implemented this strategy and haven’t looked back.
5. Give Grace (to yourself)
There is one wedding in June and one in July that I had already booked, and I decided to keep them! This doesn’t ruin my maternity leave, but I am planning in advance to make them as easy as possible. Also, I plan to blog (because I like to!) and pop into NRP team meetings (because I love them!), and that is OK!
With that said, I have to give a HUGE thanks to my team. Yes I delegated, but they are the ones who worked like crazy these past few months! Callie has kept everything running so smoothly, carrying her usual workload and mine for the past 4 months. Will has handled much more than usual, spearheading the newsletter and maintaining the bookings and finances, all the while taking care of me and Milly and keeping up our home when I wasn’t able to. Elizabeth and Olivia have stayed busy shooting and training and shooting some more, and our amazing interns Jen and Kasey have kept the studio in tip top shape, running errands and cleaning and assisting at weddings. I am incredibly grateful to each of you. Words can’t express the gift you’ve given me.
At first, I was completely overwhelmed by the thought of taking so much time off. Now, I am incredibly grateful I have been present and able to focus my time 100% on sweet Milly Elizabeth. Life has changed for good. Here’s to a new season of being a Mama AND a business owner!
All images by Elizabeth Tate
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