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Freelancing and Maternity Leave

Second in a series for expectant moms

by el-e-e  |  12474 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Freelancers are notorious for not being able to "turn off" work. The talented and pretty Mir talks about this all the time -- the fact that,as a freelancer, company holidays, sick time, and even real vacations just cease to exist.

I'm here to advise you, though, freelancers -- if you're having a baby, you deserve a break!

y take is that we're all over-achievers if we're members of Work It, Mom!. We multitask, we keep complicated calendars, we work at least two jobs every day. But new babies merit time off for even the self-employed. Biology dictates a real, true need to focus on the baby and on our physical and emotional recovery. We're accomplishing little miracles, after all!

The hard part is: When you're not in an office job, you can't just leave. It requires some creative thinking, some extra planning, and some mental adjustment. I've got two examples from freelance friends on how they worked maternity leave. (Hint: Flexibility is the key.)

1.) You can't predict a curveball

My friend Niki established a successful freelance graphic design business when her first daughter was born. Baby Number Two was due a few years later, so Niki arranged her work accordingly, telling clients that as of The Due Date, she would be unavailable. She accepted fewer jobs, wrapped things up in advance, and carefully line-itemed her to-do lists in preparation for a typical leave of absence.

Well… Baby Number Two came several weeks early, and Niki was still involved with her final projects. So she switched gears: She called clients en route to the hospital, delivered the baby on a Thursday, and then finished up work on Monday. The first month or so, Niki had small blocks of computer time while Baby had naptime, and then, finally, she closed her laptop and began a real break. But she certainly had to change her mindset in order to finish the work she had contracted to complete.

2.) On the other hand...

Jennifer, a home-based accounting assistant, felt her working-mom adrenaline kick in much sooner than she had expected. Her baby was "so easy," in her words, that after two weeks she called to say she was ready to work again. She wisely set a limit at 12 hours per week, however. (No matter how long your SuperMom cape, or how easygoing your infant, you need to take it easy. Sheesh!)

Both of my friends advised that, obviously, the right thing to do as a freelancer is to put some money aside to prepare for the dip in your income. (Then they both said, "Ahem.") There's a good article here about applying for state disability and additional insurance, if you're so inclined. Start that process well in advance, if you do it.

About the Author

Lee is a full-time Web Producer in Atlanta, and mom to AJ, 3, and KT, who arrived Feb 15, '08.

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