I’m due with our second baby girl April 2nd. With Penelope, our first, I took the first 3 months after her birth off, and then I only worked about 10 hours a week until she was 9 months old when she started daycare.
Our business is really different two-and-a-half years later, and I’m really different, too. Plus, this new baby girl’s energy is really different than Penelope’s. So, naturally, I’m planning my second postpartum period differently.
I was going to take 3 months off from working, but then I had an astrological reading with Jennifer Racioppi, our resident Origin™ astrologer, to plan out our marketing calendar, and she told me that based on what was going on in my chart in 2018, the summer would be a really good time to take off and simply focus on being a mom. She said if I tried to work that there were aspects going on in my chart that would make it really frustrating and that if I simply spent the summer with my girls chilling I’d be much happier.
Well, you don’t have to tell me twice to take the summer off in Maine. We wait all year for 3 glorious months of what feels like heaven on Earth with the sparkling ocean and the lush green with perfect temperatures.
So our team and I started mapping out how I could take 5 months off from the business. (I’ve never taken this long off, and I admit it pushes my edge of deservability and the place where I still base my value on how much I do.)
The first draft of my new book (which will be out January 15, 2019) was due December 31st of 2017, so I wasn’t able to get going on the maternity leave prep until we came back from our two-week, company-wide holiday break on January 2nd.
That left me 9 weeks to prepare for taking 21 weeks (or 5 months) off. Sound overwhelming or impossible? Not if you approach it the #doless way.
If you’re preparing for a maternity leave, wanting to take a chunk of time off, or simply wanting to create more spaciousness in your schedule, I’ll share the steps we went through with you.
1. Identify what’s actually necessary.
There are an infinite number of things we could be doing for our businesses at any given moment. But that doesn’t mean that the goal is to do all the things or to work more hours. In fact, I’ve found that the less I work, the more our results improve as a company. Why? Because I know what the few things are that only I can do that directly impact the success of our business (in terms of revenue, increasing sales, and making an impact.) For me it’s actually only two things: forming and nurturing relationships and creating content. Once you know what actually needs to happen in order to give yourself the space you need (whether it’s financially, logistically, or otherwise), then the chances of your actually making that space increase exponentially.
2. Say no to anything and everything that’s not necessary.
The only way to create space for what matters most (in this case, creating the space for a 5-month maternity leave) is to say no to the things that don’t meet the criteria of “what matters most.” For me right now that’s podcast interviews, most travel, most other requests, and basically anything and everything that’s not related to being with my family and friends, taking care of my health, and preparing the content for my maternity leave. While I still struggle with saying no, it gets easier to do when I’m crystal clear on what my priority is.
3. Give yourself more space than you think you’ll need.
While the baby isn’t due until April 2nd, our team laid out my maternity leave plan with due dates so that everything would be completed by the first week in March. Why? Wiggle room. I have no idea how I’ll feel the last month of the pregnancy, and I don’t want the pressure of getting a ton of stuff done when my belly is its biggest and my energy is turning inward. I also don’t know if the baby will come early. And lastly, I want space in case there are a few pieces of content that I can’t get to so that I have a whole month or so to tie up loose ends.
4. Make a plan.
As a company we produce one blog a week (which I write), one podcast a week (which I record with my husband Mike), and four pieces of content for our Origin™ Collective per month, only two of which need to be created by me ahead of time. So that’s six pieces of content per month. Multiplied by five months, that means thirty individual pieces of content needed to be created in order for me to not need to do much of anything during maternity leave unless I feel like it. Knowing that, our amazing team broke out what needed to be created each month and made a schedule for me to create it in advance, broken down week by week. I’m basically just working through the plan and crossing off each item as I go. While taking 5 months of content and breaking it down into 9 weeks of production may sound big, it’s actually way simpler than you might think when you simply make a plan, write it down, and then follow it (as long as you’ve followed step 3 and you’ve given yourself wiggle room so that your plan is actually doable).
To get super nitty gritty, the schedule looks like this for me:
- writing 5 blogs a week (4 for a future month and 1 for the next week – each takes about an hour)
- recording 2 podcasts a week (1 for a future month and 1 for the next week – each takes about an hour)
- recording 5 Maven Masterclasses for Origin™ over the course of 9 weeks (each takes about an hour – see step 8 on batching)
- Preparing and recording my How-To lessons for Origin™ (each of which takes about an hour to prep and an hour to record)
The total here comes out to about 11 hours of content creation per week between the blogs, podcast, and Origin™ content because I’ve asked for help so that I don’t have to create every single thing myself (more on this in step 7).
11 hours split over 5 days a week is totally doable for me. I love writing, I love creating lessons for our Origin™ Empresses, and I love interviewing people and recording with my husband. It all feeds my soul and energizes me. If all of this work felt like a slog, 11 hours would be torture. But it’s actually a gift where I feel like the truest version of myself.
I’m refurbishing one blog post from the past a month as part of my maternity leave plan. This community has grown A LOT since I started my blog in 2010, so most of the people on my list haven’t read the stuff I wrote 8 years ago. And, even if they have, they either won’t remember because I’m re-writing the original posts to make them more current, or they’ll be glad to get the message again because all of us need to be reminded of things over and over and over.
We’re also reusing marketing plans, promotional copy, and promotional emails for launches we’re doing while I’m prepping for and on maternity leave because: a) it saves a massive amount of time, b) those who purchased the programs we’re launching during the last time we promoted them won’t get the emails again anyway, c) those who were on our list but didn’t purchase last time may very well be inspired by the very same emails that inspired our customers from previous promotions to take action.
6. Get help.
Last maternity leave I had a 12-week “Blog Babysitter Series” of guest bloggers who wrote on my site. It was a really fun way to introduce our community to some hand-picked women who I know, love, and trust.
This time I’m going to pre-write all of the blog content, but we do have a couple of new voices teaching a few of our How-To lessons in Origin™ during my maternity leave, so our community can benefit from some new wisdom and so I don’t have as much preparation to do.
We’ve also had some of the people whose programs we’re promoting as affiliates during my maternity leave reach out and offer to pre-record content, do Facebook lives on my page without my being there, and even write promotional emails for us to make our work easier.
When someone offers beautiful help like that, I respond with an enthusiastic, “Yes, please!” and I recommend you do, too.
The only way to produce large amounts of content in a short period of time is to batch.
Batching is when you take a bunch of similar content (like blogs, podcasts, or training videos) and schedule chunks to get it done all at once. The alternative is switching from writing to audio to recording to interviewing all throughout the day. Not only is this tough on your brain because it requires you to switch gears and lose focus, it’s also tough from a preparation standpoint.
For example, when I record my How-To videos for Origin™, I have a specific video, audio, and lighting set-up that I like to use. It’s not massively complicated, but it does take about 15-20 minutes to set up. It makes way more sense to set it up once and then shoot all the videos than it does to set it up, shoot one video, take it down, and then shoot another video a few days later.
The same goes with hair and makeup. There are a lot of days when I never do my hair and makeup and never change out of workout clothes. That’s totally fine for my daily life, but if I’ve taken the time to take my appearance up a notch, I want to get as many videos done as possible because that whole rigamarole takes 30-45 minutes, and I want that to be time spread over several videos instead of having to add that prep time every single time I go on camera.
8. Do less.
In order to make space for what truly matters, you have to do less. It’s the only way.
I was on a coaching call this morning with the creator of BirthFit, Lindsey Mathews, and she suggested that for the final trimester of pregnancy while I have a lot to do to prep for maternity leave, I only have 2 days a week of dedicated training plus a private Pilates session each week and make sure I move around a lot throughout the day. The gremlins in my head were loud, telling me that working out only 3 days a week is lazy, that I’ll lose my strength and endurance, that I won’t be ready to give birth, that my recovery time will be longer, that I’ll gain too much weight, etc. However, I’ve never consciously taken things off my plate to make space for what matters and regretted it. Not once.
So I accepted her professional opinion that 2 training days a week will allow me to maintain my strength and endurance, and I gave myself permission to do less and make space.
It’s really easy to get overwhelmed and get caught in the trap of saying you don’t have enough time. But if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that we’ve said yes to too many things and now we don’t have space in our lives for the things that we really want to have space for.
Prepping for this maternity leave has been a profound practice in peeling back the layers of shoulds and coulds so that what’s truly left is the space to be present as a mother (which is the very reason I started my business 16 years ago).
Whether you’re prepping for an extended leave from work, a big trip, a maternity leave, or you simply want to live your life with more consciousness, go through the 9 steps I outlined here and see how much space you can create.
You’ll be amazed by how much unnecessary clutter you’ll find in your life and how, when you finally let go, you’ll be left with a life that means the world to you.
OVER TO YOU:
Which of the 9 steps resonated with you the most? How will you implement it in your own life to make more space? Tell me in the comments!