How to Prepare for Parental Leave When You're a Business Owner

Mary Hohn, Writer

When you’re running your own business, the thought of taking parental leave can be nerve-wracking. While you want to take enough time to bond with your new baby, you need to keep business humming. Fortunately, with the right amount of planning and preparation, you can do both.

To ensure you have quality time with your new baby — without putting your other baby (your business) at risk — take the following steps.

Plan ahead.

While you’re waiting nine months for your baby to make their debut, it might seem like you have plenty of time to plan your parental leave. But when you’re busy with day-to-day operations, it’s easy to put planning on the back burner. Time can pass quickly, and before you know it, your due date is around the corner.

To make sure you’re set up for success (and less stress) once your baby arrives, prioritize your leave plans and start prepping at least a few months in advance. Make a list of responsibilities and determine who can cover them. Not only does creating a plan early give you peace of mind, but you’re prepared if the baby comes earlier than expected.

Delegate and automate.

Once you’ve figured out which tasks you need covered, start delegating. Whether you have internal team members covering your responsibilities or you’re outsourcing them, confirm who will be responsible for daily tasks. After you’ve solidified this, formalize a coverage plan, document it, and share it. Carve out time for training and slowly start transferring responsibilities. This helps you and those covering for you to be confident in what they’re doing before you go on leave.

If you’re a solo act and have fewer resources for coverage, figure out which tasks you can automate. With Square Invoices, for example, you can set up automatic payment reminders and recurring billing. If you have clients on retainer, these automated features help keep your cash flow steady while you’re out.

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Be realistic (but don’t overcommit).

When you’re running your own business, it’s not always possible to stay away for the entire duration of your parental leave. Realistically, you may need to check in periodically. At the same time, newborns require a lot of time and attention, so don’t overcommit yourself. Once your baby arrives, the last thing you want is to be overwhelmed and stressed out with work obligations.

To effectively manage client expectations, communicate your due date and coverage plans with clients early on. Take measures to set boundaries with clients, such as controlling your calendar with an appointments management platform like Square Appointments. With Appointments, you can set limited business hours and block personal events. That way, clients know when you’re available, and you can have uninterrupted time with your baby — or maybe even catch up on much-needed sleep.

Stay home with your baby, but stay on top of business.

Time with your newborn is precious, and, as they say, it’s time you won’t get back. By taking the steps above, you can make the most of that time, minimize work-related stress, and make sure your business runs smoothly while you’re on leave.

Mary writes for Square, where she covers topics that affect business owners — from starting a business to growing a business — and the tools and technology that help them succeed.