If I could go back in time 5 years ago to the time I had my first baby, I would probably do things differently with my maternity leave
12 or 18 months at home may sound like a long period, but it isn’t. When I started my second maternity leave 4 years later, I knew what to do differently in order to make sure I would make the most out of my maternity leave and I want the same for you.
Here are my 10 biggest maternity leave takeaways that I would like to share with you:
10 Things I wish I had done on my first maternity leave (but I made sure to do on my second one)
1. Exercise at home
This is the biggest takeaway from my first maternity leave. Trying to schedule workouts at the gym or join fitness classes just didn’t work for me. Instead, I worked out at home during the morning when I wasn’t as tired. I was working with an online personal trainer and received a weekly workout to do at home. There are lots of exercises you can do at home, and there are many online programs available for free.
2. Work with routines instead of a schedule
Instead of following a daily schedule, you should work with routines. Rigidly scheduling things is less effective than planning around activities you do one after the other. A babies’ schedule for naps and feeding is constantly changing and trying to stick to a schedule is just impossible. However, when you follow routines you can easily manage your tasks throughout the day.
3. Don’t ask Dr. Google for medical advice
This was my biggest mistake from my first maternity leave. Looking for information online about child development or your little one’s symptoms is not a good idea. If you have any concerns about your baby, ask your doctor instead.
4. Don’t waste hours on social media during your maternity leave
For me, social media is a black hole that sucks-up time. Once I start, I never know when I’ll finish. I just don’t know how to stop and put my phone away (sound familiar?). It was exceptionally addictive when I spent my whole day inside, breastfeeding for hours and looking for some kind of social connection. Later it’s just become a bad habit.
Facebook Mommy groups are a great way to connect with moms near you and learn about mom and baby activities you can do with your LO. I am a big fan of mommy groups online and like to connect with other moms.
Why you should stay away from mommy groups online during your maternity leave?
If you ask a question on a Facebook mommy group, you will get hundreds of different answers! It is hard to focus on what is important through the noise around or sift through people who just want to say their opinion without any practical advice.
It becomes an issue when you find yourself reading questions and comments that are not even remotely related to any problem you have experienced. You would also have to wade through arguing about what the best approach to take would be on a question you don’t even care about.
If I have a question, I would talk about it with one or two good friends.
5. Get to know local moms from your area.
Instead of wasting time on mommy groups online, get to know local moms in your neighbourhood. Get to know moms that live close by to your place or within a short walk.
I found that with baby’s naps time and feeding schedule, it doesn’t leave you a lot of time to get somewhere far. So meeting with moms who you can meet for coffee or walk to meet without having to drive far away is key.
6. Take time for yourself before going back to work.
Place your child in a daycare a few weeks before the end of your maternity leave. This way, you will have time for yourself before going back to your full-time job. During this time, you can get stuff done and get ready for work while your baby adjusts to the daycare or to a new caregiver.
7. Take advantage of the baby’s first months
This is probably the most significant learning from my first maternity leave.
In my experience, during the first few months of my maternity leave my babies were sleeping more and only woke up to nurse.
By the time you reach 6 months, your baby will be way more active (you now have to chase them around the house) and spend lots of time on preparing the baby’s food + feeding and cleaning
It’s essential to use the first few months to relax, get more things done, and even travel because later, it will only be more challenging.
I’m very aware that every baby is different, so this advice might not be applicable to all new moms out there.
8. Don’t try to be a hero or a super mom.
Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you can’t do everything. The perfectly clean house where everything is tidied up and everyone eats freshly cooked meals only exists in fairy tales or on Instagram ;).
Every day you are doing your best and that’s enough!
9. Travel more
Your baby’s first 6 months are the perfect time to travel for a few good reasons: First, you can get a bassinet on most airlines which will help you during the flight. Second, there’s no need to prepare or worry about your baby’s food, as your baby will get only breast milk or a bottle. And last but not least, the baby is not mobile yet- so walking all day long with a baby in a stroller won’t be an issue.
10. Don’t wait for the perfect weather
Living in Canada means that you can’t wait for a day with perfect weather to go outside. It’s either too windy or too cold, or too rainy or too hot. If you wait for the ideal weather, you might not be able to go outside.
Dress your baby appropriately for the weather and go outside as much as you can.
Learn more about baby winter gear hear here and read my full guide on how to go outside with your baby during the winter.
That’s it! This is my list of things I wish I had done during my first maternity leave, but I made sure to do on my second maternity leave.
By doing these things, I really felt like I did my best when I went back to work, and I made the most out of my year at home with my baby. This is what I want for you as well.
As always, if you have any questions for me or something you would like to add about your maternity leave, feel free to leave your comments below.