Ask the experts: How to spend maternity leave

Maternity leave can be hard to navigate, especially if you’re a first time mom. Try out these sure-to-work tips to help you make the most of your maternity leave with three easy-to-follow steps. Step 1: […]

Maternity leave can be hard to navigate, especially if you’re a first time mom. Try out these sure-to-work tips to help you make the most of your maternity leave with three easy-to-follow steps.
Step 1: Get organized BEFORE baby
When you are pregnant, it’s easy to say, “Okay, when I’m on maternity leave, I will have all of this time to get organized and the rest of my time will be free time.” The truth is, that’s really not true. My first step in guiding you on how to spend your maternity leave is to give yourself plenty of prep time. You’ll want to make sure everything is ready for your new baby. Here’s a list of what you should try toconquer before baby arrives:

  • Tie up loose ends at work.
  • Make and freeze meals for family dinners.
  • Finish the nursery…have everything ready down to the last diaper.
  • Divvy up. Establish a list of chores for everyone in the house. Aside fromthe regular duties that everyone takes part in, add in who will clean thebathroom; who will check the mail. It’s the little things that will add upand cost big chunks of time later.
  • DVR all of your favorite shows so that you have plenty of choices for nursing sessions.

Step 2: Realization
One of the hardest things for a parent to comprehend (especially a firsttime parent) is that your time is no longer your own. Though it may seemlike you can just pick up your baby once every few hours after they’ve
blissfully slumbered, the reality is a bit more…busy.Go ahead and realize now that maternity leave is about 10 percent fun and90 percent baby business. I’m just gonna put it all out on table, your dayswill be filled with this:

  • No sleep (Expect to wake up every 1 to 2 hours to feed that little baby.)
  • Lots of poop (Expect to change at least 7-10 wet nappies and several poopseach day.)
  • Pretty sweet smiles (Now all this time with your baby isn’t all bad, a good bit of the day will be spent making your tiny bear smile!)

But with all of this little tyke fun, how are you supposed to have time to cook and wash dishes? (You’re not, that’s why you need to complete Step 1, as soon as possible!) Step 2 is an important step because it gives you an honest look at whatwill be happening. It’s going to take some time to get to know the newest person in your family, so expect to spend some time basking in your baby’s glow. And remember, once work rolls back around, you’ll spend every day wishing for just five minutes of poop changing time with your little one.
Step 3: Make room for fun
After you’ve completed all the fun in Step 2, and after you’ve napped when your baby naps and gotten in at least one hot shower, you’ll be ready for Step 3. There will be a little bit of wiggle room left for some fun, especially in the last weeks of your leave, as your baby can go a little longer between feedings and enjoy a little solo time, you’ll want to incorporate some of these fun things to feel like you’ve accomplished a bit of relaxation on your time away.

  • Do a home mani/pedi. Give dad the baby and go have some mommy time.
  • Finish your baby’s scrapbook. Take as many pictures as you can of that sweet smile and then plaster it all over his baby book. Peeling glue off of your hands can totally be therapeutic.
  • Watch some good shows. Use your nursing time to catch up on your favorite reality show or news program.
  • Schedule some romance. Make sure to have some love time with your partner even in the midst of your maternity time.
  • Take a stroll. Take your baby out for an adventure, it will help you get in shape and give baby an outside perspective.
  • Have a girl’s night. Even though you’ll want to spend every waking moment with your little cuddle bug, you’ll also need at least one night out to just be you.
  • Go on a trip. Try to take at least one trip to visit nearby friends orfamily. You’ll be happy you did.

Maternity leave is a memorable time that you will look back on and cherish. Don’t be afraid to have lots of fun and take lots of pictures. Enjoy it—it goes way too fast.

A special thanks to Kelly Andrews, inspirational speaker and mom of two from Chicago, Illinois for sharing her expert advice.

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