I am just a few weeks away from having my third baby in three years, and as a consultant, I am struggling with my mat leave plans. With my first, I was working full time at a PR agency and had the benefit of a full year of paid mat leave, thanks to the Canadian government. Fast forward a few years and a few kids later and my mat leave plans are much less defined.
The factors? A growing list of amazing clients, a great group of collaborators and a hustle that I just can’t turn off. On the flip side, three kids, ages three and under won’t be easy, I need to rest at some point and my client deserve the best, not a sleep-deprived mom.
So what’s a consultant to do?
- Take a hard look at the numbers: I had to take a real look at the finances and the opportunity cost. How much time can I afford to take off? What expenses do I have to cover during my mat leave? What about the connections and reputation I have built over the last few years? Will potential clients forget about me?
- Is it a full leave or a step back? I am very type-A so taking a full leave from clients and work was never going to happen. Instead, I have decided on a happy medium where I’ll be involved behind the scenes, and will work with the amazing team at Felicity to transition most of the day-to-day duties.
- Assemble your village: Minimal leave or step back, work is still going to happen, so ensure you have a support system in place. We have all heard it before, but raising kids requires a village and there is no shame in assembling the best village you can!
- Brief, brief and brief again: Letting go of things can be really hard, but for any kind of mat leave to happen, it has to be done. Set your replacement up for success by providing extensive briefing documents, briefing calls and briefing meetings. You have a lot of knowledge up top, share it!
- Be flexible, things happen: This is my number one learning as a consultant and as a mom. I have a two month mat leave planned. But will I say no to an amazing project if it comes up? Probably not. On the flipside, I also know that as a consultant I have incredible flexibility and my return from mat leave includes a home office during baby’s nap time.
Have you grappled with taking a maternity or parental leave? Please share your thoughts in the comments.