I’m a full-time working mom and I’m currently on maternity leave with my third baby, Alyssa Jaime. Maternity leave is meant for bonding and that time is sacred to a new mom and baby (or in my case a seasoned mom and a new baby). This is honestly the best maternity leave ever and it took me three tries to finally get it right!
Here are some do’s and don’ts on how to have the best maternity leave ever:
- Do make sure you know all about your employer’s maternity leave policies before your baby is born. This will put your mind at ease knowing exactly how much time you’ll get off, how much is paid versus unpaid, and knowing you’ll still have a job upon your return. It’ll be one less thing to worry about once you have everything squared away with HR and your manager.
- Do sleep. Get lots of sleep. I’m sure that you’ve heard the phrase, “Sleep when your baby sleeps.” Guess what? The newborn babies sleep on average of 16-17 hours a day. It might not be consecutive hours, but since you don’t have to clock-in at work, you’ll have the luxury of sleeping in or taking naps throughout the day. Naps with the baby make the best kind of naps.
- Don’t stress about work. They will figure out a way to carry on without you. If you set your emails to automatically reply that you’re out of the office, they will quickly realize that you’re not available and not bug you.
- Don’t take on big projects. You may think that 6-12 weeks off is a great time to take on that big reno or start working towards that masters degree. Uh, no. Big projects bring on big stress and there’s no room for that with a new baby. With my first maternity leave, I planned my wedding. On my second maternity leave, we took on the daunting task of house hunting. This third time around, the only project on my agenda is to love and get to know this baby.
- Do take lots of pictures of your little baby. Their tiny faces change so much the first few months so hone in your mommarazzi skills and capture each and every squishy-faced moment.
- Do take a vacation or stay-cation if your budget allows and if you’re comfortable with taking the baby out. The maternity leave period is a good time to get away since time off may be limited once you return to work. The kids and I went to Florida for an extended stay-cation at my parents’ house and skipped out on the brutal Chicago winter. Check out what we did here.
- Do ask for help. If you need help – whether it’s for someone to watch the baby for a few hours so you can run errands or if you need advice from a lactation consultant – don’t be afraid to just ask!
- Don’t worry about chores or housework. Those can wait. They’ll still be around even when your maternity leave is over. Which brings me to my last and final piece of advice…
- Do nothing at all. Unless it involves kissing, hugging, starting at, nursing/feeding, smelling, cuddling, admiring, snuggling and just loving on your sweet baby, then nothing else matters. Forget about your smart phone, forget about social media, and go off the grid for a couple of days. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the days seem to last longer when I’m unplugged. And when it comes to maternity leave, you’ll want to stretch all the time you can get.
What’s your advice for having the best maternity leave ever?