Once upon a time, I was pregnant and subsequently had a baby. I can hardly believe that it happened three and a half years ago. I was determined to work right up to the time I went into labor because I knew that I wouldn’t have the luxury of a long maternity leave…8 weeks if I was lucky if you consider a c-section to be “lucky”, which I think most people would not.
I ended up “lucky” so 8 weeks it was.
I was looking forward to spending that time with my new Betty, but I was also a little bit terrified. I was going to be alone with a newborn all day nearly every day. I had never even held an infant, much less changed a diaper until she came along. I felt woefully unprepared which is why this guest post really spoke to me when I read it. I kind of wish I had had something like this to read before I went through it myself.
I’d like to welcome Kristin Ross to my blog today. Kristin…thank you. Especially for #5 because I honestly never considered it as an option until I had been a stressed-out new mom for a few weeks. ( I make sure to tell all my other new mom friends the same thing!)
Like the trooper that you are, you worked through it all. First trimester: the nausea, the fatigue, the sleepiness. Second trimester: the challenge of finding clothes that would fit and flatter. Third trimester: lugging around that heavy baby 24/7, the nonstop trips to the restroom, the sweating.
It wasn’t easy, but you did it! And now, thank heavens, your little one has arrived and maternity leave along with it. You’re experiencing a bevy of emotions: joy, excitement, fear, doubt. And now, with plenty of time on your hands, you face a choice of how to make the best of your maternity leave. Will you spend it obsessing about all the things that might go wrong, worrying about all the mistakes you might make (here’s a hint: it’ll be less than you fear but more than you’d like). Or will you take control of these blessed days on leave and make the most of them?
We vote for the latter, and we have some ideas to help you do just that. Read on to find out more:
Lay low for a few days.
Business and productivity rule the workplace, as they should. After all, your employers pay you to get things done. But you’re not at work anymore, and you’re not on the clock. So, take it easy for a few days before you jump into whatever grand plans you have for your leave. Let your body recover, and let yourself enjoy that new little one without placing expectations on yourself to get anything done that doesn’t involve loving and caring for your baby.
Let others help out.
If you want to make step 1 happen, you’ll need to surrender to step 2. Have friends offered to bring meals for the first week? Let them. You’re tired. You’re sore. And you’ve got the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you in your arms. Do you really want to cook because you don’t like accepting help from others? Get over it! The same goes for letting others clean your house. What? Not only let others—other women—see your house in a messy state, but let them clean it? Yes, we know, mortifying. Except, not really. Everyone’s house gets messy, and you have better things to do than clean right now. Get. Over. It. And let others help.
Hang out with other moms.
It’s always nice to be around like-minded people—people who understand what you’re feeling. So, get in touch with those other moms in your life and get out of the house with your baby. Meet up for coffee or lunch, and enjoy spending time with someone who can sympathize and offer comfort as well as laugh with you over the foibles of being a new mom. Talking with other moms will dispel your doubts and help you realize what a supermom you are.
Treat yourself and baby.
If you have some expendable income to do it with, then treat yourself and your little one to something special. You’ve both been through a lot. You’ve both done well! So, a little reward seems in order, doesn’t it? Go ahead, buy that fancy diaper bag you’ve been eyeing. Or really treat yourself with some new jewelry. And remember, this is your time to spoil your baby, so take every chance you get. There’s no shame in buying a few seemingly unnecessary items. And, if you do decide to buy something special for your little one, consider personalized gifts for babies. Personalized items, while useful immediately, ultimately become keepsakes forever.
Get away for a few hours each week without baby.
What? Leave your baby? That’s right. Friends, family, husband: they’re all up to the task of watching your little one, we assure you. Getting away without your baby will help in a few ways. One, you’ll have a chance to think about yourself for a change and remember what it’s like to live unencumbered. Go to a movie. Get your nails done. Go for a jog. Whatever. Two, it’ll help clear away baby-brain and remind you that, as amazing and important as your little one is, there’s still a whole world out there that matters. Three, you’ll see firsthand that—big surprise!—your baby can survive without you (for a few hours, anyway).
There you have it. You worked hard throughout your pregnancy and you’ve earned this maternity leave. Now it’s up to you to make the most of it. We hope our suggestions above help you do just that.
If you are a parent, do you have any additional tips to share for new moms? (And let’s not forget the dads!)
An extra special shout out to my mom friends who kept me sane when I was a new mom! I’m looking at YOU, Helly!!