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How I’m Creating Space for a 5-Month Maternity Leave

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:

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.

5. Repurpose.

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.

7. Batch.

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. 

How I’m Creating Space for a 5-Month Maternity Leave

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.


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!

  • OMG I love this article. This is super helpful since I am having open conversations with my husband & staff at our motorcycle shop about planning on getting pregnant soon. Which means we need to tweak our business model so that my customers are not affected by my 5 mts off. (5 mts for me is buffer time before/after the birth). Im constantly talking to our staff and other owners about what that looks like systems wise. Along with creating plans and documentation to make sure that everything runs smooth. Totally saving this article as a touchstone in my evernote account. LOVE LOVE LOVE

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Oh I’m SO glad this was helpful for you Margaret! And congratulations ahead of time on your impending pregnancy!

  • Karin Jensen says:

    Number two…saying no and number eight…doing less.
    My regret in life is not having done this many years ago. I was and still am a “yes” individual and thought that doing more meant getting ahead.
    Four years ago I was diagnosed with HER positive breast cancer. I am cancer free right now and rebuilding my life. I will be 67 this year and after following you have decided that I want my life to be productive and fun. I will be saying “no” more and prioritizing what’s really important so I can enjoy the things I want to do. I have a small Avon business that I want to grow and also learning to paint is on the front burner
    Thank you for your knowledge and advice. I look forward to your articles and making my life the best it can be.

    With regards
    Karin Jensen🌻

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Karin I’m so glad that this resonated with you. And you know what’s so awesome, it’s never too late to start prioritizing yourself which obviously you’ve figured out! Congratulations on your health and putting your business and your painting!

  • Ryan says:

    Love, love, love this post! This plan you have for maternity leave is so beautiful, Kate. Kudos to you. Way to practice what you preach!

    I was inspired and I was thinking about how I really want to get my blog up to a successful level that can ideally support me and replace my 9-to-5 job income. But it’s been really hard to get stuff done with my full time job and my 11 month old to care for. I decided this year to focus only one 2 things: 1)Making great content by getting crystal clear on my message and 2) promoting it solely through Pinterest. So to that end, I decided that I can work on the blog for 2 solid hours a day every day and if I do that for 5 weeks I can get 36 posts done which would give me enough to post weekly for the remainder of 2018. Then I can turn my attention in April to Pinterest almost exclusively and I’ll have that peace of mind bc I’ll know that I’m staying consistent with my audience with my posting schedule. It’s ambitious but it seems a lot more doable when I took the batching approach and thought it all out. I made a small to-do list in Nozbe as a “project” that I fondly named the “#DoLess Blogging” project. :) Thanks Kate! I’ll let you know how it goes in our Origin Facebook group.

  • Vicky Morrison says:

    Hey Kate,
    all the steps resonate with me currently and I am not even having a baby!!! congrats on this next family journey, my daughter is also due on the same day as you…

    Heart Hugs

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I’m so glad this one resonated! It turns out streamlining our lives is applicable in pretty much every situation ;)

  • Bee says:

    (1), (2) and (4) – I’m actually doing right now. I’m not giving birth though I am dropping a pair of twins worth of weight!
    I gained a lot of weight and was eating a ton of rubbish food (I’m a stress eater – I was stressed) and tail end of last year I started having ‘sugar crashes’ several times a day whereas previously I had about 1 a year and feared I was on the verge of becoming diabetic. I decided I had to get to grips. I’m a life coach and didn’t feel I was a great advert for weight management coaching!
    I know that for me to lose weight, I need to remove as much stress as possible for my life, plan a diet and exercise programme and stick to it for 4 months.
    Starting on 1st January this year, I gave my ‘apologies’ for as many community activities as possible for the next few months, made sure I had the foods in place for ‘no excuses’, made a schedule including unavoidable social events and planned the diet around it.
    I’ve now followed the plan for over 9 weeks with only one tough week where I went a bit mad, and reduced my body fat from 45.7% to 38.3%.
    Another 8 weeks to go for my ‘big push’ where I hope to reduce body fat by around another 10% to 28%.
    Clearing the space – stripping out all non-essential commitments, making the plan, has been integral to my success so far.

  • I’ve had kind of the inverse happen for me, in that my aging parents have moved in, and their health crises have totally shifted my time management toward their care in unexpected ways.

    What I find is that working out harder every day is the only thing that’s keeping me in problem-solving mode. It’s also making me have laser focus on business activities. Like are all my clients receiving and performing good billing hygiene?
    Also, am I continuing to have a social life? It’s necessary to my business, but I tend to hole up in isolation in times of stress.

    Beyond that, I let myself show up imperfectly and try not to apologize for it if I haven’t let someone down in the process.
    Thanks so much for this post, mamacita!

  • Kori says:

    I loved this! Thank you!
    I am just coming out of my maternity leave with baby #2 and trying to figure out how to do it all, working only 3 days, taking B school, trying to get my biz up and running, be a mom, and a spouse and, and, and….
    The piece around saying no and making things essential is perfect to help with this! Instead of getting caught up in shiny object syndrome and saying “yes”, this really helps to keep the focus on what’s important right now- family and my biz to allow me more time with my family.
    All the best with your weeks leading up to baby #2!

  • Cara Mendez says:

    I LOVED this Kate! Thank you. I have been working on getting ahead of the curve for my membership being that it’s still very new. I was feeling like I was on the content hamster wheel. This was super helpful!

  • Sarah Dean says:

    I love all of these, but what stands out to me the most is that you can write a blog in one hour! I’m only just starting my blog, and a business on the side of my day job, and blogs take me several hours to write. Usually I have to write it over the course of one or two days, and then not look at it for a week before editing, and then post. So I’m trying 1 blog/month.
    I hope my blog brain gets more efficient, like yours! One reason it takes so much time is I have to read research papers (evidence based parenting blog). Another is, I feel I need a lot of space after writing it to make sure I’ve presented everything in a way that won’t offend anyone (parenting is such a touchy subject). But also, I think brain organization is big part of it.
    I’m curious if you were always such quick writer, or whether years of blogging have made you more efficient?

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I’m glad this resonates with you! On the blog writing front I have to say, I’ve always been a quick writer. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your efficiency. (Though one thing to keep in mind is that my blogs are rarely research based. They’re just what I think or sharing my experience so that makes it way quicker.) Here are some thoughts for you:

      1. Do you find talking something out quicker? Sometimes people speak their blogs and have them transcribed and then clean them up after.
      2. Consider hiring an editor. We have someone who edits my blogs so that I don’t have to feel super obsessive about making them perfect (she focuses mostly on typos but sometimes will make content edits too.)
      3. Don’t worry too much about offending people. It’s inevitable. I totally get that parenting is a very touchy subject, but you’re writing evidence-based articles and I’m sure you have a perspective that works for you and that people come to you because they appreciate that perspective. Worrying about offending people makes the writing process grueling and is like closing down the creative sphincter. So I’d loosen up on that a bit and you’ll probably be surprised that your die hard fans love you even more when you’re willing to take a stand (which equals a more powerful business.)

      Thanks for writing in!

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