Congratulations on the arrival of your new little baby! Now that you’re officially on maternity leave, I hope you will enjoy it as much as you can! Eventually, you’ll go back to work and this small period of time, when everything seemed to stand still, will come to an end. I took 12 weeks of leave with each of my children. And each time, 12 weeks seemed like such a loooong stretch. But I am here to tell you that no matter how much maternity leave you take, it will fly by! It can be blissful and stressful. Here is our maternity leave survival guide and some tips that might help!
Do your paperwork! I think we can all agree that there’s nothing worse than paperwork! Fill out any required forms for your employer and/or insurance company before baby is born. After he or she arrives, the last thing you’ll want to do is fill out a zillion forms to claim short-term disability.
Take a shower. I never really understood how some moms say they don’t have time to shower when they’re home with a newborn. Huh? Newborns sleep, like, nonstop. Besides, by the time you’re five minutes into your day, you’re already covered in milk, spit-up, pee, or something else. Put baby in their bassinet or bouncy seat and spend 10 minutes in a hot shower. You’ll be so glad you did. Nobody said you have to wash your hair or shave your legs. 🙂
Get dressed every day. This is another small step that will make you feel ten times better. Get out of your pajamas and put on your “real” clothes. You might be between sizes or nowhere near ready for your pre-pregnancy clothes, but getting dressed gives you a productive head-start to your day. I always put on a bit of makeup, too. I felt fat, leaky, and uncomfortable, but somehow that little bit of effort with clothes and makeup made me feel somewhat back to normal.
Ask for help… or don’t. Depends on who’s offering, right? I remember one time, after my daughter was born, my mom came over to fold laundry. Halfway through, she curled up on the couch and took a 45-minute nap. I shook my head and finished the laundry myself. So you may not always get the help you want (thanks, mom!), but some is usually better than none! Just remember: it’s OK to ask for help, and it’s also OK to delegate! So many people want to help you, so let them! Let your mom do your laundry (unless she’s like my mom). If a good friend is coming to visit, ask her to stop on the way to the drugstore to pick up some hemorrhoid cream. I mean… nipple cream. I mean… diapers.
Set boundaries. Some people love a house full of visitors and helpers, but I had definite limits. My maternity leave was short and precious, and I didn’t want to spend my time managing a revolving door of visitors. When I did have guests I tried to schedule specific times for them to come AND go. It is OK to say no sometimes! You need to make time for resting, feeding, and caring for your baby. Not to mention all the other daily chores like meal-preparation, laundry, etc.
Get out of the house every once in a while. Especially if you have older children at home, they might be desperate for some entertainment and fresh air! I took my kids to free summer movies, the zoo, the park, outdoor hikes, and other activities with the newborn in tow. We had a great time!
Cut yourself some slack. Having a newborn is HARD. Everything about it: putting them on a schedule, adhering to nonstop feedings and diaper changes, making time for naps, learning how to parent, and getting to know this new little person, all while being extremely sleep-deprived and body-fatigued. Take care of yourself the best you can! Get rest, eat, and drink lots of water. Most importantly, be nice to yourself! Be proud of what you’re accomplishing each and every day as mommy to your new precious baby!