I felt compelled to write this blog post on maternity leave for teachers for all you mamas, soon-to-be mamas, or anyone with hopes to start a future family of their own. Also, I wanted to shout out the mamas trying to get pregnant without success and who’ve struggled with infertility. We see you, and we stand with you. In this post, I want to share a little bit about my first fully planned maternity leave with my fourth child and how I’ve never taken one before because I was a slave to my job.
I want to share what I’ve learned after three failed teacher maternity leaves and what I did this time to make it better. Plus, teacher maternity leave is significantly different than most jobs because it requires a lot of work and preparation. It’s not as easy as saying, “Okay guys, see y’all in 6-8 weeks, hope it works out”. You’ve got an entire room of students, other teachers, parents, administrators, and more wondering how long is maternity leave for teachers or is she going to write a teacher maternity leave letter. So I wanted to put everything in order for you today and give you a teacher maternity leave checklist to get started.
You can also pop in your AirPods and listen to these tips on my podcast here!
I also wanted to mention that if you are a teacher business owner taking maternity leave, one of the best things you can do to prepare and to continue nurturing your people while you’re snuggling your babe and figuring out life with a newborn is to schedule emails to your email list. I teach you how and give you email templates in my free guide: Email Marketing for CEO Teachers®. Download it here and let your emails do the work for you!
– that’s how long I took for maternity leave with my firstborn and second-born baby boys. I entered into my junior and senior year of college nine months pregnant. I was told when I enrolled that we could only miss one day each semester because we were in a cohort through Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW). I used to not share where I went to school, but looking back, I think it’s important to know the strict and ridiculous guidelines we had. Because I’m from a tiny rural community, four colleges are a pretty good driving distance away. If I wanted to get an education degree from GSW, it would have been nearly a 3-hour drive one way each day.
That year, GSW decided to do a cohort through Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), so the professors would drive Monday through Thursday and teach us all day. Literally, all day – sometimes from 8 am to 6 pm and other days from 9 am to 4 pm. ABAC was about 45 minutes from my home, so in August 2009, I drove to my first day of school at nine months pregnant. I have this thing when I say I’m going to do something and nobody thinks I can. I tell them, “Watch this.” Even though no one except my mama and husband believed I could manage a newborn and my coursework, I decided to go all in.
My son was born on a Friday, and I was told I had to go to a mandatory class on Monday for a Code of Ethics training. If I did not attend, I would be kicked out of the program. And, to make matters worse, I couldn’t bring my baby. They told me, “You cannot bring your baby.” I barely could walk at that point, and the thought of sitting at a desk made me cry. So I stood for three hours in the back of a huge auditorium as my mom sat in my car with pumped breast milk feeding my 3-day-old baby.
At the end of the training, one of the professors walked up to me and said, “Why are you here? You didn’t have to come.”
I broke into tears. “Didn’t have to come? You all told me if I didn’t come, I couldn’t be in the program any longer.”
We continued making the drive where my mom would sit in the car, and I’d breastfeed during my breaks. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. When he was three weeks old, my father was in a nearly fatal car accident where my mom could no longer watch after my baby because she had to take care of my daddy.
At four weeks old, my son had to start daycare.
Daycare that was paid for by student loans.
Then, much to my surprise, one of the hardest days I can ever remember happened when my son was three months old. I found out I was pregnant again. Make no mistake, I love my children, and I’ve been so blessed to have kids, but being 23 years old and broke and finding out you’re pregnant with another child while you’re going to college isn’t something you can really mentally prepare for.
My senior year of college was like Deja Vu when I walked in for orientation at nine months pregnant. My sons are 12 months and 11 days apart. I went into labor early with my second son on a Sunday and went to school on a Thursday. This time they let me miss three days (Ha! Thanks for that GSW), and we did the vicious cycle all over again. Thank God for my sweet mama.
I tell you this story to say, I don’t want you to do what I did. I want you to be prepared, I want you to be ready, and I want you to enjoy your babies and maternity leave as a teacher because I didn’t get that with my first two. So when I found out at 30 that I was pregnant again, I was elated. God had given us another chance (although we tried for years and years to get pregnant again) to enjoy a baby. That baby boy has been one of the greatest gifts.
But here’s the thing. I launched my first course two months before our last boy was born. And although I said I was on maternity leave, I wasn’t. I was working around the clock with my baby on my lap on my laptop to help students because I was a one-woman show. I’m thankful that I don’t have to do that this time.
I vowed with this baby girl to make sure my hiney sat in that rocking chair for a million miles so that I could enjoy every single second. I want to enjoy and soak up every second of those newborn snuggles! Here’s what we did to prepare for my maternity leave as a teacher.
Don’t procrastinate or act like you aren’t pregnant and go on with live business as usual as your teacher maternity leave approaches. Hello, that’s exactly what I used to do. I used to legit act like I didn’t know there was an ending here. Most of us are pretty close to our due dates when we deliver, so we all are very aware of when this will happen, and yet, it tends to sneak up on us if we aren’t careful.
So, in the beginning, once the sickness leaves and you start to get a little energy back, organize what needs to be done for your teacher maternity leave. Chunk it into categories by priority. Ask yourself what the most important thing you need to do is so you can forget about school or your side hustle while you are drowning in sweet baby kisses and not moving your butt from a rocking chair.
Although I don’t need extra motivation, it’s important to remember this while you're preparing for maternity leave for teachers: every second of work you do to prep for this baby means every second you gain time and freedom once they arrive. I wrote this blog post to go live 2 months before it was time.
I didn’t want to do it, but my blog posts and podcast episodes were preloaded through the end of my pregnancy so that I could have two full months of my business on autopilot and my first baby girl and last baby in my arms. When I don’t feel like it, I just close my eyes, think of how long is teacher maternity leave, and say, “This is for you, baby girl. It will all be worth it.”
Now, you could look at that and say, “Why don’t you just not work at all and not have anything preloaded for your business and just take time off?”
And to that, I say, well done. If that’s your personality, please do that! But it just isn’t mine. I want to be still teaching and serving my community even if I’m on vacation.
Once you’ve organized what needs to be done, it’s time to make a plan. Whip out that calendar or calendars, and let’s get busy. I use a digital calendar, Google Calendar, and a paper planner. The most important thing for my life I ever did was take two weeks to dig down deep and understand Google Calendars. Now, I have color-coordinated calendars based on children, and activities for work, life, time off, and more. If my kids say, “Hey mama, is my game on field five tonight? Are we the home or visitors?” I can easily say, while I’m driving, just check the calendar. However, now they don’t even have to ask. They grab my phone, open up Google Calendar, and know their color so they can see all the details of baseball games, field trips, days off from school, summer camps, and more.
I want you to spend some time making a plan for your maternity leave like that – a runway to the baby’s arrival. This should be where you can see everything leading up to your time off for teacher maternity leave at a glance, but in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming because there’s so much to do and so little time. Each day turns into a stepping stone for success. Our dogs get groomed once a month, and they are orange on the calendar, I share every activity with my husband, and he checks yes if he takes the responsibility (which at nine months pregnant is almost everything, to be honest). That way, I don’t even have to say, “Hey baby, are you taking the dogs, or am I?”
It may sound over the top, but it allows us to live a life in love rather than stress about the daily to-dos. As a teacher, your color-coordinated calendar for teacher maternity leave could look something like this:
I want to be frank here to my teacher friends. If you are asking, “How long is teacher maternity leave?” and feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to do, stop scrolling on Instagram. Stop looking at what the most impressive and organized teachers do for maternity leave, their hospital bag, and everything else under the sun.
Stop making it so complicated. It doesn’t have to be. Go to the hospital with a toothbrush and some clean underwear.
Sister, your baby won’t know the difference. Leave your classroom tidy and your sub plans in a binder; your students won’t know the difference. Going on teacher maternity leave doesn’t have to be complicated.
Now that you have your schedule color-coordinated, it’s time to batch everything. Look, I’ve taught batching about a hundred times, so I’m not gonna get into the nitty-gritty details. But as bad as you may hate it, it works. Take those chunks of tasks you need to accomplish and spread them out over months, so it doesn’t feel heavy. But once it’s done, it’s done! I’m in the thick of podcast writing and recording with only three left! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! And once it’s done, I don’t think about it again until four months from now!
Yeehaw! That’s what I want for you, your classroom, and your business. Write all of your weekly emails to your teacher list and schedule them to send each week while you’re on maternity leave. Write blog posts to go live throughout your time away. Automate your Facebook posts to go out while you’re doing all of the new mom things. And the same goes for your classroom. I want you to miss your students, but I don’t want you to have to check an email while you’re gone if you don’t want to. Speaking of email and setting boundaries, let’s jump to our next one.
Read that again. I think some people confuse setting boundaries with being rude or inconsiderate, and I completely disagree. I put my phone away from 6 pm to 6 am every night, and those first few weeks were rough. I would have 45 new text messages each morning I had to sift through and answer, but now – I have zero or just a couple. Why? Because people know when they can reach me. If my mama needs me, she calls my house phone. Setting that boundary has been so vital to my family. Losing 43 text messages a day gave me hours of endless conversations with my kids that I’ll never get back.
What boundaries can you start implementing now, so it won’t be such a shock when your baby arrives? First, start answering emails during one designated time. I check my email once a day. That’s it. Once a day, and I’m never in there longer than 20 minutes unless we are in our busy season. I never check it on the weekends, and sometimes I miss a day because we have a 48-hour return policy. Set up an auto-responder on your email that explains your boundaries and ways they can reach out to someone if it’s an emergency. Go ahead and put your time off in there, too, as a teacher maternity leave letter to parents, so they will know when you won’t be available if they want to talk about a grade or something before you go on teacher maternity leave. For one, it’s excellent documentation. And second, it’s just great for communication.
Although my husband is a principal, I do know that admin can be pushy around the time when you’re getting ready to go on maternity leave for teachers. I want to go on record, though, and say I’m not a fan of this current admin cancel culture on Instagram and people ranting about “things I would have said to my admin.” Your administrators are people too, do some of them suck? Of course. Does that mean they all suck and should be lumped together as such? Heck no. So, be sure to be clear with your admin about your time off, and stop beating around the bush. The more direct you are about your teacher maternity leave, the more they will appreciate it.
If you’re on the school leadership team and they ask if you can do a virtual meeting while you’re on maternity leave as a teacher, the answer is. “No, I’m sorry, but feel free to send over the minutes, and I’ll read over them once I get back.” We think that our no will somehow make us a reject but, in the end, it actually makes people respect us more.
I heard this quote in a recent book and started taking it with me when I had to make hard decisions. It said, “15 minutes of uncomfortable is worth eternity doing what you wanted to be doing.” Oh my goodness! So true. We often don’t say anything and go months or years being uncomfortable inside when all we had to do was push through 15 minutes of awkwardness. If I ever say, “Ugh, I don’t want to do it or call them or tell them that because I feel bad,” I immediately pick up the phone and call instantly without second-guessing. If I don’t, I won’t sleep for weeks until I finally work up the courage to go for it.
You never know when the waves of exhaustion are going to hit you. One week you’re at CrossFit four days in a row, and the next, you are drooling on your teacher’s desk during your lunch period because you can’t keep your eyes open. You never know when your energy will come and go, so bake in time to rest and give yourself some grace. Before writing this blog post, I stopped to take a second and ended up taking a two-and-a-half-hour nap. I couldn’t tell you when the last time I took a 20-minute nap, much less a two-and-a-half-hour nap, but I’m energized and ready to go now!
I don’t know the specific laws surrounding your state if you are in the United States or your province or territory because it’s different everywhere you go. But ask early and get the paperwork turned in early. If you do get paid for maternity leave or have sick days saved up, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to turn that in and risk not getting a paycheck because that means more stress and less carefree snuggles during your treasured maternity leave as a teacher.
I think leaving little teacher maternity letters is the sweetest thing! If time allows, you could write one letter to your students for each week you’ll be gone. Sending a few teacher maternity leave letters to parents leading up to your due date is also a nice touch, so again, communication is clear, and no one is left trying to find you before report cards come out while you’re enjoying your time off. The more you communicate with everyone, the better off you’ll be. So craft some teacher maternity level letters to your students, parents, fellow teachers, and admin that you can begin giving out a few weeks before your due date and have someone (your sub) give the ones you wrote for while you’re away to your teacher friends or read out loud to your students.
Come find me on Instagram and we can chat! It’s a lot of work to prepare for your maternity leave for teachers right now, but all of those sweet newborn snuggles will be oh-so-worth it!
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