If you’re anticipating a short maternity leave, you’re probably dreading the return to work. I consider a short maternity leave anything less than 6 months (I only had 12 weeks, and I know women who only had 6!), and I am a planner. You must be too, or you wouldn’t be here 😉
So first – CONGRATULATIONS! And second, I feel you mama. Sometimes it feels like we just “get what we get”, but we can STILL make the most of it. Enjoying a short maternity leave is all about reminding yourself what it’s for.
Maternity Leave is about recovery, bonding, and transitioning.
I’m betting you have an overbearing friend or relative (or two or three!). Maybe they weren’t always that way, but babies have a way of bringing out the crazy in some people #babyrabies.
I was so anxious and sensitive to people imposing their parenting opinions at every turn and bombarding on my short & sweet time home with the sweetest little person in my life.
So I planned and plotted and prepared my relatives because I knew that there wasn’t going to be time (or energy) to shoo them away during that vulnerable postpartum period.
1. Realize your new role
What I mean is, you aren’t the baby that needs taking care of. You are the mom that has a baby to care for. Older visitors will make you feel less cut out for this stuff. You aren’t.
Whether it’s your first or third, fresh mommies have two jobs that are superior to everything else:
1) acting in baby’s best interest &
2) putting mom back together.
Those two things are tricky, but they get easier when you realize they are the top priorities during maternity leave.
I want you to realize, ready or not, that you are the boss. Hopefully that phrase boosts your self-esteem, because it should! You deserve to feel proud and strong and capable because you are! You just grew and gave birth to a person, and that comes with a lot of responsibility.
When you start to feel overwhelmed, I want you to think about those two things. Even if it offends someone or inconveniences everyone.
You have a job to do as a fresh mama. As soon as you get that under your belt, you will start enjoying your limited leave ON YOUR TERMS. No nonsense.
2. Don’t do ANYTHING you don’t want to do
I mean ANYTHING. Unsolicited “advice” ranks high on the list of things you don’t have to do. You are not the object of anyone’s desires right now. Unless it’s coming from your little one. I’m giving you a free pass to shut down any guilt trips thrown your way.
I say this because I would have been miserable, running around town during every waking moment if I thought I needed to appease the whims of my extended family.
I would never have been a successful breastfeeder if I hadn’t stuck to my guns and let people dictate my time. Older relatives would constantly tell me to “just give her a bottle!” I couldn’t help but think “You had your babies. Let me have mine.” Done.
American Maternity Leave is hardly that, and a typical scenario gets mom and baby 12 weeks or less to get to know each other before being deprived of each other for over 1/3 of each week. You deserve every minute you need to heal, transition, and bond with that baby.
3. Make some mini goals
If you want to enjoy your maternity leave, then I’d bet you want to do more than wipe up weird poop (seriously, what is with that?). Luckily — Babies nap A LOT. I read a blog post about how disappointed this mom was when she couldn’t write her manifest during her year-long maternity leave…. #CryMeARiver. Don’t expect to build a deck, but consider painting a wall or clearing out a room. It is so invigorating to get a little something done!
Even if you’re just finishing up the nursery!
During my maternity leave (with my husband home with me), we were able to paint our kitchen cabinets! And a wall. Then we bought a new car, and bought new furniture for our living room. I’m no magician, but these are the sorts of things that can be done with a sleeping babe. Because like I said, they nap A LOT!
Life revolves around them, but this is a great time to practice your juggling. It doesn’t end here!
BONUS: MAKE EXTRA MONEY AT HOME!! READY FOR THE CHALLENGE?
4. Let others know what you are looking forward to
My most common line is “I can’t read minds”. Thankfully no one else can (or so I hope). But this leaves us with a responsibility. The responsibility of letting people know what we expect of them.
If you want to be bombarded with visitors at every waking moment, then ENJOY.
But if you don’t, let them know. If you want the first week home with a baby, then you need to ask for it. (“Ask and you shall receive”, right?)
Make it a part of your everyday conversion, and mention how excited you are to just be mom, dad, and baby. It’s an amazing time, so soak it up!
My only request was that I am called before anyone shows up. A 5 to 10-minute head’s up is all I wanted (maybe the baby was sleeping, I was sleeping, or no one was home!).
5. Ask for help around the house
Once you get back on two feet, or even before. Invite friends and family to help you out in whatever way you want. Seriously, when you notice dishes piling up or dust bunnies accumulating, ask for help around the house.
NOTE: Visitors of a new baby will want to take the baby off your hands while you cook/clean/whatever. Sooooo helpful, amirite?
Don’t be afraid to give them something else to do while you bond with baby. You need this time more than they do. Period.
But if you do need a break, to shower or because you just loooveee doing dishes and laundry, then have at it! The point is, do not be afraid to ask for help. You don’t owe anyone anything. I promise people will gladly come over just for a glimpse of that precious bundle.
Most importantly, making the most of maternity leave is about you
Your newborn will be best off with a happy and healthy mom! That sweet little baby want to sleep most of the time anyway, and I’m pretty sure that’s nature’s way of telling you to CHILL. You are off the hook for most of your regular responsibilities. Just take care of you and your baby, because you’ll be thrown back into it all sooner than you think!
Over to you – are there any things you are worried about handling during your short maternity leave? I’d love to help you come up with a simple (maybe sassy) solution!
- 19 Productive Things to do on Maternity Leave
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- Returning to Work After Maternity Leave, Like a PRO
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- How to Get Dad Wanting to Help with Housework
- Saving for Baby on One Income: $9k in 9 months
- How To Introduce a Dog to a Newborn