How to take a doula holiday
I’m headed out on holiday this week! As happens every year, we are loading the car with camping gear and headed to a beautiful place for unknown adventures. This year’s destination is the badlands of South Dakota. I’m excited for rugged terrain, blue skies, and wide open expanses (I know, I sound like a tourist brochure!). While the tips below are focused on those of you who are birth or postpartum doulas, I have to follow them as well as The Website Doula! It’s not easy to leave the to do list behind, and the list of clients who want me to help them now (or ideally yesterday…). But I somehow manage to do this every single year, disappearing for a week or two into the wilds, and returning to discover that things maybe weren’t as urgent after all. I return to my office on July 21st and will be ready to roll with some lovely new clients for site designs starting in September! Ready for a free website consultation? Book your time now!
It’s time for a doula holiday!
It’s summer! The river beckons for afternoon swims, the camping gear wants to leave your storage shelves, and the kids are home from school. Going on vacation as a birth or postpartum doula is not easy. Here are my top five recommendations to help you prepare for your next doula holiday:
Decide when you are going to take some time off your doula practice several months in advance. Let’s face it – if you don’t schedule your holiday time, it probably won’t happen. Before you know it the windows of time around various client due dates will make it almost impossible to get away. I learned this lesson early on in my doula career after frustrated conversations negotating holiday times between my husband’s schedule and client EDDs!
You know the call… A fantastic family with the due date that is “close to your departure date but will probably give birth before you leave”. It can be hard to resist the extra income from that one bonus client, but the stress incurred of either hoping they birth in time, arranging backup and/or being up all night with them when you should be packing is really NOT worth it.
This applies to other major life events as well! Years ago I said YES to a family whose due date was my moving date. What are the chances? I thought… Well, it turns out the chances were very good. It was a gorgeous birth and I loved being there, but it left my husband to pick up the pieces with two young children in tow.
Have a fantastic backup partner or two. Trust them.
This is not easy for those of you who live in more isolated communities, and sometimes is simply not possible. Still, an upcoming holiday can be a great chance to reach out and build connections with other local doulas while seeking a strong backup relationship. Know that should your client go into labor when you’re away, your backup doula may not care for them in the exact way that you might have, but trust that your backup partner is holding your client’s best interests at heart.
Leave the devices at home.
I mean it. No computer, no cell phone, no tablet. We live enough of our lives on-call. Give yourself a blissful retreat from always being available. I do not say this lightly; it is achingly hard for me to leave the computer at home, believe me. Still, as panicked as I feel walking out the door, I’m always glad that I did. Sometimes when I return this device I spend so many hours on actually feels a bit foreign, my fingers awkward as they learn to cruise the keyboard again.
I’m doing this right now as I write this post. I had big plans to have my website set up with blog posts that would go live while I was away. But as I write this post I realize I’m not going to do it; as hard as it is to let go, the reality is that even doing that will make me feel like I’m working while I’m gone. So I’m keeping it simple by surrendering to holiday bliss, and hopefully inspiring some of you to do the same this summer.
Besides, I have managed to advance set-up some facebook posts, a huge victory for summer 2019! Good is good enough, and this year I’m way ahead of my usual curve – feeling pretty proud of myself!
On coming home…
The reality is that when we return, our doula practice will always be here waiting for us when we return. Yes, there will be a host of emails waiting in the inbox. That’s just fine. One or two of them might even be important; that’s just fine as well – that’s why you hopefully had a backup doula available just in case!
It sometimes feels like a bit of a culture shock for me coming home, taking a few days to be ready to settle into my routine again and embrace my to do list. Over the years I’ve gotten better at this, ideally taking a day or two to simply unpack and enjoy my home and family. If you have doula clients needing visits, consider scheduling them for a few days after your return rather than in your first 24 hours back. Think of yourself as being “in transition”, and let that threshold between vacation & daily work life stretch out as long as possible so you can better integrate the benefits of your time away.