I am very fortunate and was able to take 12 weeks of maternity leave, 8 of them paid by my employer 100%. I have just under three weeks left and while I am so, so sad to leave my baby girl, I am also excited to return to the adult world, where I don’t spend my entire day singing songs about poopy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now: I could not be a stay-at-home mom. I love my job and would really miss it. My ideal would be to work part time but unfortunately that’s not an option.
Maternity leave has given me a new appreciation for SAHMs. It is hard. I’m sure it gets easier as the baby gets older but man, this mom shit is exhausting. Some days I have felt like I’m going to lose my mind, while others are great and I wish they’d never end.
I found my rhythm a few weeks into maternity leave and managed to enjoy myself, for the most part anyway. Here is what I found key for keeping my sanity during my time off.
1) Shower. Every. Single. Day. I have heard some new moms complain that they cannot find time to take a shower. I can’t do that. I need my morning shower to feel human. I put H in her bouncy seat and put her in the bathroom doorway so she can see me (our shower has a glass door) and I can sing to her. She usually starts crying at some point, which is hard to listen to but my showers are pretty short. It is worth it to me and puts me in a much better mood to face the day.
2) Have something planned every day. H and I leave the house every day. Sometimes it’s something excited, like visiting friends or going shopping, and sometimes it’s just a trip to CVS. It’s amazing how exciting Starbucks can be when you’ve been cooped up with an infant. We usually go out mid-morning, because that seems to be a good time for H to be out and about.
3) Get physical! Weather permitting H and I go for a walk every morning. It’s good for both of us to get some fresh air. We sometimes meet up with my friend and her new baby, who was born four days before H, and other times we go solo.
4) Socialize. Maternity leave can be lonely, especially if most of your friends work. I make it a point to plan social activities as much as I can. I go for walks with my friend and make it a point to meet up with other friends as well. We also attend breast feeding support group every Tuesday morning, which is great because it’s socialization with other moms going through the same things you are. My sister-in-law has also come up a few times to hang out.
5) Read. I love my Kindle. It’s light and easy to read while nursing, and allows me to buy something new without having to leave the house if I don’t want to. I also read a ton of blogs and just recently was able to catch up on them all.
6) Watch TV and/or Netflix. I DVR a ton of shows to watch while nursing or calming a fussy baby. I discovered Portlandia and learned that Roseanne is on almost all the time (and is way funnier than I remember from when I was a kid). I also watch a few guilty pleasures like Real Housewives of New Jersey and Days of Our Lives.
7) Maximize nap time. Naps have been a struggle. For the longest time H wouldn’t nap for longer than 10 or 20 minutes at a time. I really worked to develop a routine with her and now we always have an afternoon nap. Sometimes it’s still only 20 or 30 minutes but most days we are able to get closer to 45 minutes or an hour and sometimes we’ll get even two hours. It’s fantastic! I try to make the most of my alone time. First I eat, because that’s hard to do when H is awake and needing to be held. Then I throw in a load of laundry and make any necessary phone calls: the pediatrician, etc. Then I just relax for as long as I have left. I read, I blog (OK, that rarely happens), I catch up on email and Facebook. Sometimes I’ll empty the dishwasher or clean a little bit if something needs my attention but I try to save that for after my husband is home. I really need nap time to just unwind. And stuff my face.
8) Plan “me” time. On the weekends my husband takes H for the most part. This includes a solo outing for me – shopping, a trip to Starbucks, etc. It’s key to build in time for yourself, away from the baby and even your husband.
That’s what I’ve found key for a happy maternity leave. What was important to you?