What to do while on maternity leave
Many women spend countless hours making sure they stay healthy while pregnant, they plan for the actual birth, and get ready for baby’s arrival. But what comes after baby is here? Many new parents underestimate what taking care of a new child will be like, sometimes agreeing on plans for all the time they suppose they will have while not working. But the early days of parenting are filled with changes that range from emotional to practical and that’s why you may want to spend a little time planning how to approach your maternity leave.
Plan on giving yourself time to get used to the new change
With my first child I lived out of state, far away from my family. I figured everyone would be excited to see my new little one and I should bring him “home” to visit. Since having all of my rather large Italian family travel to see me would be impossible. The problem was I didn’t give myself enough recoup time between giving birth and planning to travel. I was learning all about sleep patterns, feedings, diaper changes and soothing fussiness all while dealing with the emotional roller coaster my hormones and traveling at the same time. Now when I look back I think how much better it would have been if I just took the time to learn the ropes of new baby without having to jump through the hoops that come along with traveling. There is nothing wrong with taking time to process all of the new information coming at you. If you give yourself that time it will also come a lot easier. Any kind of travel or even small plans should be postponed until you have fully taken in all of the new information and have it all down as much as you can.
Let people help you
There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting someone make a meal for you within those first weeks. Or if you are really lucky someone to do the dishes or just be around so you can take a shower. A new baby is demanding. With time you’ll learn the ropes of multitasking but it takes time and practice, so any help you can get - take it!
Get out - eventually
At some point you’ll need to venture out of the safety and security of your own home. It’s better to go for small practice runs while on leave rather then wait the whole time inside and then be forced to once your leave is over. Make small planned trips with baby to the park or mall, nothing too goal oriented to allow yourself the time to see what getting out is all about. There is also nothing wrong with one or two trips without the baby, to remember you are actually an individual as well.
Prepare to go back
Toward the end of your leave you’ll have a decent handle on the new baby. It’s time to slowly introduce the changes that you’ll need to incorporate in order to return to work. Baby is used to having you around 24/7, so its a good time to slowly introduce other care givers for short periods of time to let him/her get used to the idea. You may not want to leave baby as much as baby isn’t used to you being gone so take a little time before leaving becomes a necessity. This will give everyone practice and time for adjustment.
Aug 30, 2013