The first few months of maternity leave can be a blur. Between the sleepless nights, mounds of laundry, and medical appointments, it can seem like the most hectic period of a mom's life. However, this bubble of time is not infinite. Before mom knows it, she will be back at the office or switching to full-time mom mode with her family income significantly cut.
This new time off is an amazing opportunity to spend time with the new baby of the house. But it's also a time for mom to take time for herself. When she will look back on it, the last thing she will want is to regret what she wasn't able to do. Does she need to accomplish everything she had planned to do? No way! However, as time starts to fly by, and maternity leave is coming to an end, some mothers find themselves wishing they had done things differently. Ladies, remember to take time for yourself, even though you have a tiny human clinging to you.
Here are some tips and tricks for activities to ensure mama's maximizing her time off and getting the chance to live her best life.
15 Grab The Passport, Let's Travel!
Having an infant in the house can be super intimidating, and extremely time-consuming. People may have given her the impression that she will never leave the house again until her children turn 18. How can a mother possibly think about leaving her city, when it’s hard enough to get out the door to make a pediatrician appointment, or even to get milk?
It’s true, however, that the first few months of parenthood is incredibly taxing – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. When our daughter was born, my husband had work trips scheduled so we joined him in England, Australia, the USA, and other areas of Canada.
Was it easy? No, but then again, parenthood isn’t easy no matter where you are. As long as you bring the necessities (pack & play, feeding equipment, diapers, clothing, etc.), taking care of a child is pretty much the same regardless of where you are. I, now, look back at that time as an incredibly enriching period, partially because we had the chance to explore so much.
14 Coffee, Mom's Best Friend
One of the best things you can do you for yourself, and your little one, is to get out of the house and into the sunshine. That said, the moment you’re done packing up the mountain of equipment needed to walk out the front door, your little one has decided it’s nap time. When life revolves around feedings and naps, finding those windows to get outside can be very difficult.
But, heading outside, even for 15 minutes a day, can do wonders for your mood. And your child can sleep wherever you go unless it's a concert. Bring out the stroller and bundle him up tightly. When you get back out into the world of humans, and maybe even meet up with a mom friend who is going through the same things you are, it can infuse life back into you. Some days will be more of a struggle than others, but for those days that you can make it happen, it’s worth it.
13 Meet Up With Colleagues Who Miss You
While work might be the last thing on a new mother's mind right now, keeping a professional relationship, with colleagues, will only help you in the future. For the majority of women who return to the workforce post-maternity leave, there’s no doubting they're at a disadvantage having been away from the office for a significant chunk of time.
Maternity leave can be an incredibly special time to bond with baby. But, it’s important to not forget about the office entirely. Meeting with your boss and colleagues, every so often, will ensure you come back to the office aware of what’s been happening while you’re off. It will also ensure you’ve been able to have conversations about your role and where you fit, especially if there have been any management changes throughout the time you’ve been off.
12 Take An Evening Leisure Class
While a mother's day will likely be filled with feedings, nap times and cuddles, she should not forget about her evenings. If it’s possible for mom to lean on dad, moms should consider using this time to invest in something that fuels her passions. Whether it’s a painting class, photography, a business class or yoga, there’s never been more options available for adults to pick up a leisure class. Most importantly, this may be a time for a mom to go back to school and take on a different career choice in continuing education.
Personally, I took an entrepreneurial course over the back half of maternity leave (after being able to leave the baby for more than two hours at a time). Not only did it help my brain remain sharp in my career, it also fueled my passion for entrepreneurialism. I, then, started using daytime naps as a chance to research business opportunities, which furthered my passion. Even getting out of the house for a few hours, and being around other adults, can be helpful in reminding you of your well-rounded life.
11 Become Your Own Boss And Start A Business
One of the great things about living in today’s day and age is, we, as women have never had more options available to us. We can choose to stay home and raise our children or pursue a 9-5 career. We can work part-time or no time. We have resources, like Etsy, to sell our creative pursuits, and freelancing has been growing in popularity.
It’s an exciting time to be a mom, and a woman, knowing all the various career options we have. This is a chance to dive into a passion of yours and see if you can turn it into a feasible business. I’m not saying we moms have a plethora of free time, but there are windows in there if you choose to invest your energy. If an idea has been niggling at you for a while now, this might be the perfect time to dive in and see what you can create!
10 Get Writing And Start A Blog
Mom blogs, cooking blogs, business sites, travel blogs and even cat blogs, they all exist now. Thanks to the power of the internet, it now takes little more than 30 minutes to set up your own site and domain name, with a fully designed template. If there’s something you’ve been wishing to put out into the world, now might be the perfect time to do so!
Break out the camera to capture some compelling photos, and prep a few articles to go live. Voila – your work is out there in the universe! All it takes is a passionate idea to start. So, put one foot in front of the other, and watch your work start to build. Some moms have even turned their blogs into published books! All it takes is a little promotion and a consistent posting schedule, and you can start to build a following.
9 Take Time To Invest In A Passion
In the throes of motherhood, it can be so easy to lose yourself in the day to day of caring for your kids. When the dust begins to settle and you start to feel a bit like yourself again, spending time on things that excite you can bring about a sense of normalcy. Whether it’s reading, writing, art, photography, yoga, running, magic – it’s all about finding things that fill you up.
If you find it hard to think of any hobbies or passions, think about what you were into as a 10-year-old. Chances are, there’s still an interest there. I used to love writing stories in elementary school, and I translated that into starting a blog, editing a novel, becoming a freelance writer. For others, it could be lacing up sneakers for a 10k, or breaking out spatulas for a baking spree. Whatever inspires you, this is a chance to let yourself go into it.
8 Hit The Gym And Do A Little Work Out
If there were a magic pill that could improve our mood, lower blood pressure, lower body weight, increase muscle mass, and improve our well-being, would we take it? Of course! That’s what being active does for us. When we're running on a handful of hours of sleep, it can seem impossible to fit any kind of physical activity in. But, the moment we get up and get active, is the moment we start to feel better.
In most cities, there are mom and baby workout classes, stroller fitness and postnatal yoga classes. Meaning, no babysitters, no nannies, no daycares. It's just mom and baby, and other moms and their babies who are just as sleep deprived and exhausted as you are. While the saying “it takes a village” isn’t as applicable in modern times, realizing you’re not the only one going through this craziness does help. And, if there are no classes around, no problem! Get onto your social media platforms, and put in a post for other moms and babies to join you in a club that you created, or just to meet you at the park.
7 Make Some Mom Friends
I don’t know how moms without mom-friends do it. I was lucky enough to know a few moms, when I became pregnant, and met more moms along the way through other moms. One of them started a signup sheet for a group chat, which ended up to be one of the best resources I found. We could ask each other about sleeping tips, local activities, daycares, and medical concerns. Having that support group, during the dark hours, is so beneficial to know there are others going through this with you.
The best way to meet other moms is to sign up or drop into mom and baby classes. But, if you’re in a remote area with limited options, there are many online groups who can be a great resource. The little amount of effort put in here will come back to you in spades. So, get out of your comfort zone and say hi to the moms at the park, or offer to go for coffee after class.
6 Get Out There And Explore Your City
Even if the thought of boarding a plane with a newborn, and all their gear in tow, is terrifying, exploring your own city can often work just as well. Most places have free, or discounted days, at Art Galleries, Museums, Science Centers, Zoos, and Aquariums. There are u-pick farms, parks, and beaches in the summer. For winter moms, ice rinks, indoor swimming pools, and indoor playgrounds. And that doesn't include all the special events like parades, festivals, and events that happen in the city.
Most of us don’t experience the full offerings our cities and towns have to offer, but there’s no better time than while on maternity leave. Take advantage of all the daytime activities while you can. Before you know it, you could be back in the office, in the middle of 2 pm meetings, missing the flexibility that maternity leave offered.
5 Pick Up The Phone And Schedule A Visit With Family
Never have I had more appreciation for my mother, than when I became one myself. If you live away from close family and friends, bringing a baby to them can be amazing for, both, them and you. There’s nothing quite like seeing the face of grandparents, or great-grandparents, upon seeing their next generation.
Trust me, despite the cost and hassle of traveling with a baby, it’s rare to look back and regret time spent with family. It’s such a special moment to see familial connections with your little one. Their bond is something you will cherish forever. Even if it’s just traveling to see aunts and uncles, it’s usually worth the effort to see them come together.
And the best part? Built-in childcare!
4 Close The Shades And Take A Nap
This can be easier said than done. “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” they tell you. Does no one see the mountains of laundry, bottles to be cleaned, or bills that need to be paid? And even if you do allocate time to resting, the 20 minutes it takes you to fall asleep, chances are, the baby will start to cry. Not to mention, when the baby is sleeping, it's the only time you get to yourself. It can be hard to relinquish that alone time, when it comes so infrequently.
That said, there are very few things, that are vital to surviving newborn motherhood, then to sleep. It is the difference between believing “motherhood isn’t so hard, I’ve got this!” and struggling to get through the day. Any moments you can take to top yourself up means you’ll be presenting a better version of yourself to you, your baby, and those around you. Nap it up, mamas!
3 Nothing Wrong With An Afternoon Bubble Bath
Motherhood is hard. There are days when you feel like you just get by. While most things on this list are inspirations to get out and stay alert, some downtime is also extremely important. Otherwise, you would go crazy. Sure, spend a couple hours each day meeting with friends, working out, or doing some work. Afterward, use the rest of the day to eat, relax, play on the floor with your baby, and catch up on your recorded Ellen shows from last week.
You have the hardest job in the world, mamas, and never forget that. Praise yourself every day, and remember how much you have accomplished just by getting through today. Don't think about tomorrow, don't think about next week. Stay present. This little bubble of time that you’re experiencing will never be the same again, so relish it while it’s here. At times, it can be impossible to believe you’ll miss these exhausting days. Yes, even the 3 am feedings will hold a certain nostalgia when you're looking back from your office window.
2 Visit Different Childcares Before Choosing One
If you decide to return to work, you’ll want to start this process, immediately, upon giving birth. Some parents register their child while they're still pregnant. Getting a spot in a daycare that you love can be incredibly difficult, with wait lists running up to three years in some cases. Make sure you submit applications as early as possible. Otherwise, you may be scrambling for coverage a few weeks before your planned return to work.
The good news is there are many options available, from city-run daycare centers to private daycares, to nanny share situations. As you’re on the hunt for your own Mary Poppins, plan to meet with several centers or nannies, ask for copies of all certifications and do your research on their history, and do multiple reference checks. It can be a lot of work to find the right place for your precious little one, so be sure to plan for it a few months prior to going back.
1 Preparing For Post-Mat Leave
Last but not least, prepare for life after maternity leave. While this period of time was unique, it inevitably comes to an end. Try to prepare for the return to the workforce, or to prepare for a change in finances as you adjust to a one-income household. Things will be different now, especially as your child is a bit older.
You may find yourself getting nostalgic about the tiny baby days, or excited to get back into the swing of things. Either way, taking some time to mentally prepare, catch up on office work, prepare finances, and organize childcare for the coming months, now moves up to the foreground. Finally, look back on the time that you’ve had. Even if you decide to stay home, or have another child, you will never experience this exact stage of life again. Look back fondly towards the past, and get ready for exciting times to come!