When a woman gets pregnant, one of the first things she starts to think about is how she will handle maternity leave. The decision to either stay at home for a year or two or go back to work after it is done is a big decision for many women. However, most women will want to take at least a few weeks of maternity leave to allow themselves to rest and bond with their babies. Depending on where a woman lives and works, she might be entitled to a few months of maternity leave, or even a full year! On the other hand, some women only get a month or two, or just a couple weeks.
If a woman has a long stretch of maternity leave ahead of her, she might feel like she has more time to relax and get used to her new life with her baby—but if she has a limited amount of time at home, she might be wondering how she can really make the most of it. Here are 20 ways that mothers can take advantage of their maternity leave, whether they will be home for a year or just have a few weeks.
20 Sleep Whenever It's Possible
Everyone with a child knows that in those newborn days, sleep is key. According to Mumsnet, new moms should not feel guilty about sleeping whenever they can get some time to do so. Yes, you will have to wake up many times in the night with the baby, and yes, you will probably still wake up from a nap if you hear your baby cry. But new moms need extra sleep more than anyone, and if you know that your baby is safe and sound, don’t feel bad about getting a little rest yourself. You need it now more than you ever have.
19 Take It Easy
Even people who have not given birth know that bringing another human being into this world puts a huge toll on your body. So for all the moms out there on maternity leave, or the mamas-to-be who will be taking their leave soon, know that according to Mama Natural, going easy on yourself is key. Because of the lack of sleep, you probably won’t want to push yourself to do much besides take care of the baby, anyway. But don’t feel bad if you want to be totally lazy during your limited free time. Trust us, you’ve earned it.
18 Have All The Coffee You Want
According to Healthline, pregnant women should generally try to avoid caffeine, including coffee. But once those nine months are over with, feel free to have all the coffee that you want! Let’s face it—every pregnant woman who understands just how exhausting pregnancy can be knows how strong that craving for coffee feels. And when you’re a new mom and you’re finally home on maternity leave with your baby, you can pour yourself as many cups as you want! No one wants to rely on caffeine to make it through the day, but this can absolutely be an exception for you.
17 Get Family And Friends On Board To Help
What’s the number one thing a new mom should do while she’s on maternity leave to make her life just a little bit easier? According to What to Expect, feel free to reach out to anyone who might be interested in helping you out with the baby! Seriously, sometimes it seems like there is this belief that moms should be able to hold the burden of the world on their shoulders without needing anyone to else to give them a hand, and it’s just not true! The saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” is so true.
16 Let Go Of Any Expectations To Be Social At First
Some people will expect new moms to get right back into the swing of things immediately after they have a baby—and as any parent can tell you, that’s just not how it works! According to Mumsnet, many women feel bad about the fact that they can’t see their friends or coworkers in the first few weeks or even sometimes months following childbirth. But here’s the thing—you’ve got a little human being who needs you to do basically everything for them. You don’t have to make anything else your priority at this point in your life—give it some time.
15 Get Outside For A Stroll When Possible
Sure, during the first week with the baby, you probably will want to keep your bundle of joy safe and cozy in your home—but according to Baby Center, it’s super important to get out and about for just a little bit each day if possible once the baby is ready. A quick stroll around the block on a beautiful afternoon can make all the difference in your day. You definitely don’t have to stay out for hours, but even getting some fresh air for a few minutes can really perk up both you and the baby for a bit.
14 If You Want To Work From Home, Plan Ahead
Do you plan on doing any sort of part-time remote work while you’re on maternity leave, with your company or perhaps on a freelance basis with different clients? Well, according to The Muse, this is something that you will want to plan out before you actually get on maternity leave! However, taking on some part-time work is a great idea if your maternity leave is going to be a few months or more. This will give a little extra financial cushion to deal with any unexpected expenses that could come up, or to save for childcare in the future.
13 Find The Best Way To Split Responsibilities With Dad
Of course, it’s great to discuss and plan how you might want to split domestic responsibilities before the baby arrives—but there will always be things that come up after the baby is here that you just didn’t think of before. According to What to Expect, it’s super important to get on the same page with the baby’s father about how you’re going to divvy everything up. One of you might be totally happy to do a bit more of the childcare and domestic work, and that’s perfectly fine! The important thing is finding a fair arrangement that works for you.
12 Cut Yourself Some Slack On Cleaning
Look, no woman likes to see her house getting dirtier and dirtier—even if you don’t mind a little clutter most of the time, according to The Bump, many women say that they feel a little upset with themselves when they realize they can’t keep up with the cleaning and handle the newborn. If you have a little wiggle room in the budget, you can always hire someone to do it, or maybe it’s time to put dad to work on that. Either way, nobody will judge you for having some clutter around during those newborn days—it’s totally understandable.
11 Prep Simple, Healthy Meals In Advance
This is something that you will want to get started on in the early days of maternity leave. If you aren’t going on leave until the baby arrives, plan to take care of it after work. According to Mom Junction, it never hurts to be prepared with plenty of food in the house well before the baby arrives. For example, many couples will make lots of tasty, healthy meals that can be easily frozen and will keep for a while for convenience—that way they won’t have to balance cooking and taking care of a newborn at the same time!
10 Don’t Stress About Losing The Baby Gains
After a celebrity has a baby, it seems like every member of the paparazzi is following her around and wondering when she will lose “the baby gains” and according to Women’s Health, many women say that this attitude can be so discouraging after having a baby. But here’s the thing—this may be easier said than done, but don’t worry about instantly being fit after childbirth. Your body is capable of so many incredible things, including creating life! Don’t waste your maternity leave feeling like you have to diet and cut lbs. Just enjoy the time with your new family member.
9 Don’t Feel Guilty About Asking For “Me Time”
Yes, your new baby is going to need a whole lot of your time and attention—almost all of it, in fact. But according to Mumsnet, many women say that finding a little time to yourself while on maternity leave is super important, too. Maybe your mother could swing by and watch the baby for the afternoon while you read a book and take a nap for a bit. Maybe your friends can come by and have a super chill evening with you and the baby just to catch up. It all depends on your schedule and your individual needs.
8 Get In Touch With Other Mom Friends
Of course, as we mentioned earlier, new moms should not put themselves under any pressure to be super social right away, especially not during the early weeks of maternity leave! They need time to adjust to their new routines. But according to Wellness Mama, having some other mom friends that you can go to for support is absolutely key. You will definitely want to know that you have someone you can call and vent to when you haven’t slept in two full days, all your clothes are dirty, and the baby still won’t stop crying. These friends are just invaluable.
7 Keep The To-Do Lists Short
If you’re used to being a high powered, professional career woman, you might also be used to planning your days with long to do lists and not feeling accomplished until you have checked everything off. But according to The Muse, this might not be the best way to approach maternity leave for most women. Keep your to do lists short and realistic—you’ll be pretty tired, and you’ll also want to avoid putting pressure on yourself to fill your day with busy work. It can be tough to get into this mode if you’re used to working, but it’s worth it.
6 Take Lots Of Pictures Of These Early Days
There is no harm taking a million photos of your baby after they finally arrive! According to Women’s Health, many women say that they actually regret not taking enough pictures during the baby days. After all, just think about it for a second—you never get those days back! The baby is not going to be this little ever again. Cherish every moment, and be sure to take loads of photos. Perhaps you could even have a little newborn photo shoot if you want to splurge for something special. If not, your iPhone camera will certainly do the trick!
5 Finalize The Future Childcare Plan
Ideally, couples should start considering this before maternity leave kicks in, but sometimes, plans for future childcare can sort of just change at the last minute—life can go in a direction that you didn’t expect. According to Mama Natural, some women may expect to go back to work, but after complications in childbirth, they might choose to stay home to spend more time recovering. On the other hand, some women may plan to stay at home with their baby, but find that they miss working! Now is the time to finalize future childcare plans no matter what’s going on.
4 Keep A Journal Of These Precious Days
According to The Bump, many women say that keeping a pregnancy journal, and later, a baby journal, can be a great way to capture memories of these days. After all, eventually this little baby is going to grow up, and you’ll want some way to remember everything you were feeling after they were born. It’s definitely a very emotional and challenging time, so you will want to have a place where you can just honestly reflect on everything that you’re feeling. Imagine looking back on that journal years and years from now and remembering those precious early days with your baby.
3 Try Joining A “Mommy And Me” Playgroup
When you first get home after giving birth, joining any kind of “mommy and me” group is probably going to be the last thing on your mind. But according to Mama Natural, if you’re going to be on maternity leave for a while, joining one of these groups can actually be pretty rewarding for both you and your baby, and it will definitely help you meet some other moms with young kids! This is not something to do in the newborn days, but if you’ll be staying at home indefinitely, it can be a great idea for mom and baby.
2 Plan A Visit With Relatives
When you’re on maternity leave, it can feel like the whole world is moving too fast and standing still all at once. You’re so busy with the baby, but you feel like the rest of your life is on hold. What’s a good way to break that up? According to Mom Junction, planning a visit with your relatives can be a good way to spice up your routine and relax a bit. Whether you want to take a little road trip or just go see them for a day in the next town over, it might be a fun idea.
1 Cherish Every Moment With Baby
At the end of the day, what is the most important thing that a new mom can do during maternity leave? According to Mumsnet, you really want to just cherish every possible moment with your baby. Isn’t that really what matters most in life—family? Work will always be there. The laundry will always need to be done. Your friends will understand if you can’t hang out as much anymore. Life is short, why not spend as much of it as you can enjoying your days with the people you love the most? That’s what maternity leave can be all about.
Sources: mumsnet.com, mamanatural.com, healthline.com, whattoexpect.com, babycenter.com, themuse.com, thebump.com, momjunction.com, womenshealth.com, wellnessmama.com