“I’m pregnant!”

“Oh my gosh, you ARE??! YAY!!”

This is what friends and family say (well, basically) when you finally break your precious news of the tiny human growing in your tummy. Clients?? Not so much. First of all, there is a lot of stress tied up in telling clients you are pregnant! As a graphic designer, it makes me feel like I have to qualify it with a statement like, “But I’m coming right back to work after the baby!” or something like “But I can still meet that deadline!” or some other variation of “I still am 100% focused on YOU!” And we all know, that in reality, you are not. You can’t be – you’re growing a baby and there’s all this weird stuff happening to your body (not to mention your mind, soul, and emotions).

So, when do you finally tell clients and how exactly do you do it? I think this depends on a lot of things.

  1. Assess your current projects. Assuming you are not telling anyone before you’re past the 3-month mark, this means you can look at your schedule with about 6 months of lead time. Take into account anything you are working on now, and assess whether or not that project will still be happening 6 months from now. Then make a short list of who you need to tell. Use your judgment and tell clients as you feel comfortable. For example, I have a retainer client that I worked with on a monthly basis and saw in person every 6 weeks. So – yea, I told them pretty much after I told my family and friends. How could I hide it? (bonus: they turned out to be a big supporter and helped me figure out a maternity leave situation that worked for me).Now, on the other hand, I have a client that I work with every couple of months (or maybe twice a year) and they are in Chicago. I don’t think they actually knew I was even pregnant and I’m pretty sure they found out after they got my maternity leave autoresponder (which maybe wasn’t the best scenario either).

    What about everyone in between? Well, I took it as it came. If they started to hit me up for a project, I let them know that I would be out of contact for about 6 weeks, in the fall and my loose plan for when I was going to start working again.

  2. How well do you know them? What is this relationship? When I was pregnant, I didn’t worry about telling clients that I’d just met or didn’t know that well. I think it kinda goes along with the decision making you would use on which friends to tell and when – if it feels right, do it. Hey, they might even buy you a present (yes, some of my clients did this, and yes, it made me a bit misty-eyed and generally feeling like I could actually DO THIS.)
  3. When you aren’t sure – send an email or make calls and just go down your list. I learned one major thing when I was pregnant and telling clients – I shouldn’t have worried about it so much. They work with me for a reason, and they work with you for a reason, too. Just tell them, and get on with the planning and prep (and the work). If you lose a client or two in this process (and, unfortunately, you might) then start shifting your language and energy to clients that welcome and celebrate mom bosses (more on how to do that this month!)

The fears you are feeling, the worry, the insecurity… I’ve been there. Heck, I am still there some days as I navigate my business post-baby. The thing is, it’s (mostly) in your head. At the end of the day, clients are going to understand that you are human and you reproduce! They are concerned with how you handle yourself through and after having the kid. That’s what they are going to want to know. Are you still doing what you’re doing now after the baby? (i.e. are you quitting, or keeping that shingle up?) How much time are you taking off? Will you be back full time, part time, occasional time? And are you thinking about raising your prices? (yes, you should do that now.) Add all that to the list of things that you’ll need to figure out and talk to your partner/spouse/friends/family/special friend/dog/cat about. *sorry*

Don’t worry – you’re a mom boss. You will figure it out. I’m here to work through this stuff the month of October and beyond. Find my other 31 Days posts here.