As an expectant mom, you know that while on this journey, there will be surprises along the way – but one of those is not the fact that maternity leave is not exactly a vacation. While the bonding time with your child will be one of the most special times in your new relationship, it will probably be punctuated by things like sleepless nights, difficult feedings and a little bit of self-doubt. But the beauty is, you have time to plan, and you have advice from moms who have been there. That said, here are six ways you can make the most of your maternity leave.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – You can plan, plan and plan some more, but your new child will have a routine of his or her own, and routine is sure to disrupt said plan. When breastfeeding, recovering from labor or sleep schedules aren’t going as smoothly as you would like, you’re getting your first lesson in motherhood: Sometimes, you truly have to fly by the seat of your pants. And guess what? It’s no one’s fault. Remember to be kind to yourself when things aren’t going perfectly.
- Bring in some help – New motherhood can be exhausting, and you need your stamina during this time. Call up your mom, sister, friend, whoever – odds are, they would be overjoyed to spend some time with your new little one while you catch some zzz’s. Let neighbors bring food, invite your in-laws (and thrilled new grandparents) stay for a weekend, and consider hiring someone to help with the cleaning – because you truly can’t do it all alone!
- Make time for yourself – But to build on that, don’t just rely on others so you can nap or go without cooking for a night. You also need time for yourself, away from your new routine. And don’t you dare feel guilty. Whether it’s a quick manicure or a visit to the local coffee shop with a book, this is a healthy step that also helps you reset and refresh. You and your child will not be together 24/7 forever, so begin to ease the transition with some hours apart here and there.
- Help yourself out, now – There are some things you can do now to make the transition smoother, one of which is making meals ahead of time. Invest in low-maintenance, and easy to clean ceramic cookware to save yourself any additional hassle at mealtimes. This is also a great tip as you prepare to head back to work post-baby; after coming back from the office, you’re going to want to cuddle, not cook!
- Venture out – It’s important not to push yourself, but when you’re ready, take that first stroll around the neighborhood with your child. It will be a nice change of pace to get out of the house, and the fresh air will do you both good. Just remember to pack all the necessities (diapers, wipes, burp cloth, change of clothes, milk, etc.) in a diaper bag and enjoy your first outing!
- Reach out to other moms – Some of the best support and advice you will ever receive will come from moms who have been there. They were tired yet exhilarated too, and they can give you tips for how they powered through. And if they just so happen to be new moms too, you can also be a shoulder to lean on for them – which might just be the foundation for a great new friendship, between both moms and little ones!
Hopefully these tips help you make the most of your time away from the office and with your new little one. But the number one tip of all? Soak it in while you can!
|Savannah Marie is a mom and a writer. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading anything she can get her hands on and learning to balance work and home life.|