Maternity leave is a wonderful time for you and your baby to bond, to get to know each other a little and to start setting in some routines. On the same note, it’s no picnic in the park, and having experienced it twice (one not working and one working), I can vouch to that.
Today, I want to share some tips to getting the best out of your maternity leave.
There were a few things I did differently with my second maternity leave, given the circumstances, and I wanted to share the tips from both of my experiences with you so you can get the best out of your own maternity leave.
Buy new pajamas
I know this must sound pretty silly to you but chances are, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your pajamas. True story, you’ll forget you’re wearing them some days. So treat yourself to a pair of new pajamas, because getting something new feels tots good and feeling comfortable in what you wear after delivery is a bonus! If you’re planning on breastfeeding your baby, I would suggest buying pajamas that unbutton down the front for quicker and easier access.
Accept offers of help
I didn’t get many offers of help from friends and family during any of my maternity leaves. However, when I did, I accepted them with open arms! I actually felt guilty asking for help because it was my baby and I had to carry the responsibilities but if anyone offered, I didn’t say no. I mean, someone else cooking or offering to do some chores or babysitting the baby so you could a proper shower… How can you say no? Don’t try and do everything alone when others are there, offering you help.
Stock up on easy food
Whether it’s your first, third and so forth baby, the last thing you want to be doing is standing in front of the stove, preparing lunch and dinner. If you have older children, life still goes on and they get hungry, so previously set routines are still important to maintain. With a few small changes, of course! Stock up on easy food that only needs a couple of minutes on the stove or needs to be microwaved. This can work out to be a bit of an expensive option, so when you do feel you have some energy to spare, prepare meals that you can freeze and then just heat up when you just can’t collect enough energy to worry about a fancy dinner.
Lunch and dinner plan
Once you’ve settled into a semi routine with the baby, work out a lunch and dinner plan. It will help you stay focused and organized, as well as help you prepare for meal times around preparation times and cooking times. Also, it will help with feeling that you have some sort of control of over at least one aspect of your life.
Know your local resources
I doubt you’ll be thinking about leaving your home for the first couple of weeks with the baby, but life around you will still continue moving forward. Which means you’ll need to stock up on groceries and other household items. Do some research and find out which places can deliver right to your door. Also, this is where your meal planning comes in handy when you need to set up a grocery list. Win win!
Lower your expectations
Many moms may have told you how well their baby slept within the first month, and how they didn’t struggle with breastfeeding, and that their baby didn’t have any colic. Don’t rely on other peoples’ experiences to imagine how yours will be. Babies are all different and while one might sleep well and give you six hours of sleep a night, another might wake every two hours. It doesn’t make you a bad mother, or mean you are doing something wrong. By not expecting too much, you’ll save yourself a few tears and possible disappointments. Also, if you’re planning on catching up on reading or doing some crafting because you’ll have the time at home, don’t expect too much from that either.
Nap when baby naps
I know you’re thinking, “Should I also do the laundry when baby does the laundry?”
No, that’s not what it’s about, although wouldn’t it be great if babies could do that?? Ahh, wishful thinking!
You’re going to be tired, and while your baby is resting it out during nap time, you’re going to be trying to complete everything you can; take a shower, do some laundry and do chores. I get it, I do. But it won’t be the end of the world if you took a nap yourself once in a while and actually got some sleep. Do you really want to say no to two or three hours of extra sleep?
Guests can wait
Family and friends will want to come over to take a look at your little one, but it can be overwhelming for both you and your baby. Not only will you be too tired to entertain every time some decides to pop in, but guests can actually push your baby out of the routine you’ve been fighting to get them in. I know the newborn stage only lasts a short period of time, but unless the guests are there to help you cook and clean, don’t feel guilty saying no.
Don’t plan too much
A baby will set you out of routine in all senses. It’s true. It’s natural. While your social life will be set aside for a while, other events can still be considered. Don’t plan for too much though! As I mentioned above, babies set the routine for the first while. You’re going to end up accepting invites and not going to most of those events anyway. People will understand if you can’t make it, especially if they have kids of their own.
Entertain yourself during night feeds
If you thought waking up for night feeds is hard, staying awake during them is harder. I mean, sitting in the almost darkness, feeding your baby and not actually doing anything else will put you to sleep; especially in the sleep deprived state you are already in. Have you heard of Pinterest? If yes, you’ll know how engaged it keeps you that you sometimes actually forget to stop pinning. If you don’t have it, I can really vouch for it. Almost all my Boards were created during my maternity leave because I had two boys who just hated sleeping and loved feeding.
Remember what maternity leave is for
This time is all about bonding and nurturing your baby. If you manage to spring clean your home or rearrange your living in this period of time, that’s great! But if you don’t, there’s no need to feel guilty about it. You can always do the chores later, but you will never have the time with your newborn again.
I hope you can use some (or all, even better) of these tips to have an amazing maternity leave. Use this time to bond with your baby, and learn more about each other. It’s an amazing part of both of your lives and there’s just no place to feel guilty about forgotten chores!
What are you some of the things you did that made your maternity leave meaningful? Share with me in the comments section!