Welcome to this episode in our Business and Babies series, where I’m joined with my husband, Robin Li. In this episode, we’re going to talk about preparing for birth and parental leave as entrepreneurs. Hopefully it’ll help you to plan and get everything in place if you’re expecting a baby.
Starting Prep Early … Before Pregnancy
It might sound funny at first, but some of our planning and preparation was done before we even got pregnant. From a personal health and well-being perspective, we moved away from a very crowded New York City all the way to sunny Texas. This move in itself helped us to improve our lifestyle and diet, and we took advantage of farmers markets, organic options, and grass-fed meat.
The improved diet definitely made a huge difference in our energy levels, and helped us to build a good foundation.
But we also made space in our business really early on, which definitely helped me mentally. Since we knew we weren’t going to be as present in our business, we started shifting our focus towards the software side of things. The business model of your company can really determine the extent of parental leave that you’re able to take.
Know Your Own Maternity Leave Expectations
In the Chinese tradition, the first month after the baby’s born is super important for both the mom and the baby. It’s stressed that the mom should be taken care of, with physical and psychological stresses eliminated (as much as possible). And I love this – in America, we can get a little too anxious to get back to pre-baby lifestyle, and not spend enough time taking care of ourselves.
So we had our parents come down and help with housework, for example, to limit the amount of “stuff” we had to worry about. If you have the ability, plan to utilize it!
It was also helpful to make it clear to our team that I wasn’t going to be available at all for a while, and Robin was available but on a reduced schedule.
Even if you don’t have a team, you can still be firm with your boundaries, especially with clients. And be careful of creeping back into business matters before you’re ready. As soon as people see you answering emails or making calls, they expect you to be back full time.
Make Plans For Your Birth, And Don’t Expect It To Go Wrong
As a business person, planning probably comes naturally to you … but you also know that not everything is going to go exactly the way you want it to.
I think the most important thing, though, is this: don’t EXPECT it’s going to go wrong.
Have faith in the team that you’ve built up, and be confident in their ability to keep the business going while you’re away.
And have faith in your own body and personal preparation. Women have been giving birth since forever. It’s in our nature and in our genes, and you can be confident in that.