Becoming a parent is beautiful. And a big change. Especially in the first year, our children are completely dependent on us and we are allowed to grow into the role of parents of one or two, three or more children. We can take our time for that.
In an employment relationship, the circumstances surrounding maternity leave, parental leave and returning to work are usually quickly settled and the possibilities for other employees are known through colleagues.
But if you are self-employed, you quickly have the feeling that you have to get back to your desk/workplace as soon as possible.
The self-employed can also apply for maternity leave and parental leave, but they have to plan a little differently and - at least that's what happened to me - with a lot of ignorance ("You don't get parental allowance"), prejudices ("that always leads to a fight with your business partner ”) critical questions (“why are you founding a company at all if you want children in a few years anyway?”) and horror scenarios (“XY had lost all customers after 6 months”) from the environment.
It is very possible to become financially secure AND relaxed as a self-employed parent without your business suffering.
Here are 5 tips that really helped me and still help today
Be honest with yourself
We start with the biggest challenge :) - be honest with yourself.
It doesn’t matter whether you have planned long and meticulously, or you have a spontaneous pregnancy: the most important thing is: check in honestly now:
- What do you need? How are you doing right now and who can help you with possible fears or blockages in relation to the new situation? Coaches often provide good support here in order to accept the new situation and shape perspectives.
- How do you imagine life as a self-employed parent? A long break, part-time work or a quick return to full-time? That is your decision alone and maybe not foreseeable at all. Consider whether there are also flexible options for you.
- How is your situation now? How will she be with one or more children? Do you possibly have to make major changes in your schedule/daily structure and your performance in the company? If so, what does a realistic adjustment look like? What does that mean financially? For example, compare income and expenses, plan realistically how much income you need or can generate monthly.
Are you perhaps just starting out or can you foresee at a certain point in time that the topic of family planning is coming up? Then plan ahead - especially financially:
- Ask yourself: what financial cushion do you need to feel safe and secure your business? Now you can build up reserves for substitutions and compensation payments, for example to continue paying your pension even if you have less income.
- If you are not sure, look for trustworthy financial advisors (on a fee basis) and / or speak to your tax advisor.
- Check the requirements for applying for parental allowance at the parental allowance office.
- For maternity protection, there is maternity benefit from the health insurance company - a tariff change may be necessary here, but this can be worthwhile.
We are all more than our job. Even if we often define ourselves today through our paid work: it is important to communicate even if this is not the No. 1 priority for a certain phase - as is often the case with self-employed people. Communicating this openly is important to maintain good customer relationships and trust.
- Early, clear communication and commitment pay off: you organize your absence and show once again how much your customers can count on you.
- Give up! You don't have to do everything yourself, but you have to have a plan who can take on open tasks if necessary.
- What's next? Your customers appreciate forward-looking planning and information about your planned return and will remain loyal to you.
Create and use your network
A good network is worth its weight in gold in many ways, but is priceless when it comes to parenting:
- Ask in your network whether you can hand over tasks and/or customers for a certain period of time or organize a maternity replacement from within your company or externally on a free basis. Here, too, plan for the long term if possible. With a little familiarization time in advance, everyone feels more comfortable.
- If you just need some support in day-to-day business, ask in your network if someone can support you on a temporary basis and reject what you can't do at the moment, e.g. ad hoc requests.
Trust that everything will work itself out. You are well prepared and doing your best. Otherwise:
- Ask for help - it's not easy for us, but as parents it's particularly important: Accept help and actively ask for it. You'd be surprised how many loved ones around you are happy to push your baby around the block in a stroller during a call or entertain them with games while you text.
- Book support: in addition to work, there are also things like household chores, cooking, shopping, etc. - book specific help here. Maternity nurses or doulas are happy to take on lighter household chores or provide a warm meal. You can relax during this time - they'll take the baby off you too!
- Get rid of perfectionism. We all struggle on some days and feel like superheroes the next - both are true and are incredibly great!
- Try to stay conscious and in the moment despite the challenges in everyday life and the balancing act between gainful employment and care work. This creates strength and allows you to enjoy all aspects of your day. But even if that doesn't work, that's completely normal and totally fine.
What experiences have you had in self-employment with parenthood? Feel free to add your tips and experiences in the comments.
What experiences have you had in self-employment while being a parent?
Feel free to add your tips and experiences in the comments.