If you are a new mum, the first few weeks at home during maternity leave with your baby will comprise of many emotions. This includes happiness, love, and joy that your baby is finally here. It may, however, also consist of doubt and worry about whether you can rightly care for your baby.
The baby will distract you a lot. You may face baby blues, baby sneezes, difficulties caring for the newborn, and other challenges that you had not expected. You sometimes even forget why you came into the kitchen because of sleep deprivation (of course you came here to get coffee to boost your energy).
You will be getting to grips with so much in the first few weeks with your baby. This will include learning the basics to take care of your baby, be doing everything in a sleep-deprived state and everything in between. We advise you see your maternity leave as a chance to bond with your newborn. If you are away from a career, you can spend time with your baby and familiarize yourself with its rapidly evolving personality. This time may end in a blink of an eye, therefore, you should know that your time with your baby is limited and you have to prepare to get the most from it.
Prepare for Maternity Leave
Before the maternity leave you have time to prepare for it. This time allows you to manage everything so you don’t face any problems during your maternity leave. There’s a lot to think about but we are aiming to break it all down for you.
Review Work’s Maternity Policy
First of all, you should review the maternity leave policy of your company and talk to the HR manager if you have any questions. Understand and learn about your maternity leave rights and laws and begin your transition plan.
Your responsibilities at the workplace are likely to be transferred to someone else while you are on maternity leave. You can do your best to ensure you do not leave any problems for your team while you are on maternity leave but this can seem a daunting prospect. Seek support from your colleagues or your boss to
help with this. Mark the key dates, deadlines, and other communication preferences before you leave work. This will help to ensure you have a stress-free maternity leave, and you will be able to spend time with your newborn hopefully not worrying about work!
Plan for the Big day
Develop a plan for your delivery day. Check your hospital bag to see whether you have all the essential materials you need. Check the hospital route to avoid any sort of barriers. Double-check that you have everything you need. There is always something that you need to remember. It is better to plan everything to avoid any sort of issues in the hospital. Make sure your car is fully charged or topped up with petrol/ diesel too! A birthing plan may also help too but if this feels like a daunting task then even a list of bullet points detailing your preferences (pain relief; water birth; what to do with placenta etc) may help ease any nerves; just be prepared for the plan to change depending on how your labour progresses.
Do the Things that You May Not Have Time For
Do the things that you won’t be able to do when your baby arrives. This includes getting a haircut, manicure, and pedicure because you won’t have time for these things when the baby comes. Self care in the run up to having a baby is vital as it is hard to prioritise this when you have a newborn.
Check your Essentials
Make sure you have all the essential items at home such as the milk and nappies for your baby, as you don’t want to go to the market again and again for these things, and prepare a list of things you want to do during maternity leave along with taking care of your baby.
Time with Friends
Spend some time with your friends, if they are mothers they can give you tips to take care of the baby. Have some chill time with yourself such as watching a movie or TV show as this will distract you from some of your worries.
“Must Do” Things for Maternity Leave
Your maternity leave will end in a blink of an eye. You should fill it with activities that you enjoy. This blog will provide give you some ideas of activities you could do during your maternity leave. Remember, you don’t have to do all of them. Do the things that you like or think you will like. Don’t worry if you cannot do everything, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t forget too; any activities you don’t get time to do can still be done once you return to work. Most importantly, we at Baby Edition want new mum’s to feel happy and connected to their new baby so do activities at your own pace. Remember bo
th you and the baby will need down time too!
Sleep is important for new mums. As a mother, you must
rest properly and have enough sleep. Maternity leave is a time to rest and spend time with your baby. When your baby arrives you may not be able to get enough sleep, therefore, so rest when you can and don’t feel guilty for resting. You need to have proper energy to take care of your baby in an excellent way. People may say sleep when the baby sleeps but this is not always practical. Call on offers of help from those around you as many loved ones will be eager to help.
Learn Something New
During your maternity leave, you could learn new things that you have not been able to learn due to workload and life in general. You have plenty of time to spend, therefore, you can invest in a course, learn a skill that can help you in your job, learn to become a good parent or do any oth
er thing that you like and enhances your abilities. You may like to read parenting books as a way to learn how to develop a strong bond with your baby. We particularly like this one.
Nowadays parents don’t tend to focus on having a baby journal if they have not started one during the baby’s early days. As time passes, you won’t be able to remember all the things your baby has done. This includes the first time they started to walk, the first time they called your name, the first time they held your hand, the first time they waved and the list goes on. If you don’t have a journal, you might only remember the crying, shouting, babbling, or rolling over. Therefore, during your maternity leave try to make entries in it.
Make it a daily habit by putting in a little information about everything your baby has done. You can create a journal of your own and put images in it, or you can also purchase a structured baby journal online where you c
an put every piece of information in their categories. This journal will bring a smile to your face when you look back at it to refresh your memories, and it can also be a beautiful gift for your baby when he/she has grown up.
Take a lot of pics with your baby and consider a professional photographer as they can click perfect pictures. Professional baby photographers use a variety of positions, costumes and backgrounds to make adorable snaps. They are worth looking into so do consider them. Moreover, you can also create a photo album of your baby.
While most maternity leaves are paid; companies vary on how long they pay for and how much a mum is entitled to which makes it difficult for mothers to maintain everything financially. But no worries, you can earn money at home in many ways.
You could work online through many freelancing platforms such as writing, social media management, voice-overs for people videos, graphics designing, and many other things that fit your skill set. You could teach your favorite subject to many students that need a teacher online. If you are into art, you can also sell your art on various platforms such as Etsy.
If you are not into any of these things, nowadays many companies offer remote work, and you co
uld also do that. You can also look for other companies that offer remote work on Google. This will help you to make some extra cash during maternity leave.
Develop a Routine
You need to have proper sleep, and it is also important to maintain your routine. You may feel like you are floating during your maternity leave, so develop a basic routine, such as sticking to your 9 am – 5 pm work routine like you are working. Spend this time reading, cleaning, and doing other chores.
This will not only bring stability but also provide you satisfaction and make you mentally and physically active. You should also care for yourself even if it just means washing your face. It will make you feel better when you take care of yourself.
Find a New Hobby
Finding a hobby during the first week of maternity leave might be difficult because you might think you don’t have time for it. It is not, however, impossible. Depending on your baby’s sleeping pattern, you will have a lot of free time to do many new things.
Try finding new hobbies that you can do at home such as reading books, doing arts, and many other things you may like. This will make you feel productive, and it might uncover your new interests and passion.
Think About and Get Life Insurance
This might not be a fun activity for you, but it is important. Life insurance can be found online or you may have to schedule a meeting with your insurance company to include your child in their policies as many companies require you to tell them when you have a baby. There may be a lot of paperwork that will be needed to be completed, and they will add your baby to their insurance and it is a piece if boring “life admin” that offers a great deal of piece of mind.
Try some exercise at home that will keep your vitals in check. You could begin by walking and deep breathing. Walk at least half an hour daily, take your time, and explore your neighborhood; getting out of the house and having fresh air is important for you and your baby. Deep breathing will help you relax and will reduce your stress. Close your eyes, inhale deeply till 4 counts, hold your breath till 4 counts, and exhale through your nose till 8 counts. Do not, however, do any exercise that may jeopardise your post natal recovery and seek advice from your doctor before considering any strenuous activity.
Plan a Weekend
Once you have adjusted to your maternity leave and have recovered, you may want to consider having a long weekend with your new family member. Your baby needs to be exposed to the outside world as they will adapt to it quickly and every new experience will their brain form more connections. Travel to different locations with peaceful areas or a beach. You don’t have any work responsibilities. Therefore, enjoy this time, have fun with your partner, and don’t just sit at home all day.
You may now find you have time to try out new recipes and dishes your baby and partner might like. You can also use this time that the baby sleeps to prepare frozen meals ready to cook. This will reduce your time in the kitchen once you return to work. You can learn from youtube or many recipe sites that provide you with healthy, nutritious, and easy-to-prepare meals. Perhaps try this cookbook if you are in need of inspiration.
Take Care of Yourself
You also need to pamper yourself during maternity leave. You could have your partner take care of the baby and spend time in the spa to have a relaxing massage, or you can go to a beauty salon for a manicure and have a new haircut. This will make you feel confident, and rejuvenated. You could also spend time with your friends and share the things you have been going through, this will reduce the weight on your heart, and you will be happy after talking to your friends.
Join a Mum and Baby Group
You might be the only person with a baby in your friend group. You may face postpartum depression and feelings of being isolated. If this happens, finding a group of mothers with newborns can be a lifesaver. You will have new friends for you and for your child too. You can check in your local community centers, libraries, or just visiting a park will help you make mummy friends.
Date Night with your Partner
During your maternity leave you also need to take care of your relationship and not just spend all the time with the newborn. In the early days, your life will revolve around changing diapers and having sleepless nights, and you won’t have the chance to have romance with your partner.
If you know someone that can babysit your baby for a few hours, you can ask them and enjoy your time as a couple. If you don’t feel like asking someone to babysit your baby, you can have a date at home, have some candles, prepare your and your partner’s favorite meal, talk to each other, and watch your favorite movie.
Learn (or Listen to) Music
Babies really like music and it has an amazing impact on them. You will find yourself singing songs and making them listen to nursery rhymes, babies find music very engaging. You can sign up for some music lessons and try out new things, your baby will enjoy grooving to some new tunes and you will also have a new hobby.
New Activities with Your Baby
You can explore fun and sensory activities with your baby. Babies can’t speak but this doesn’t mean their brains are not taking everything in. You can try several activities with your baby at home. If you are confused, you can Google some activities you can do with your baby or try some of these.
Baby Swimming Classes
It is never too early or late to learn to swim and you can sign up for baby swimming lessons. Not only will it be a great exercise, but it will also boost your post-delivery recovery. You will also meet other mothers and get to know each other.
Think and Plan Childcare
When you return to work after maternity leave, you may need some form of childcare to take care of your child during the day. You can look at different options and find out how much they will cost. You can talk to providers to know how they will care for your child. This will develop your trust in them, and once you return to work, it will help you manage your finances. If you are in the United Kingdom, it is worth looking up what help you are entitled to towards the cost of childcare.
Prepare for Work
When your maternity leave is about to end it is worth trying to develop a schedule for yourself. This includes reducing hours of sleep back in line with what you had before the baby, making arrangements for balancing both professional and work life, and trying to get your baby used to routine that fits with your work schedule. This may help make your return to work easier and more effective to manage.
Your baby may still be drinking breast milk when you return to work, therefore, you may want to spend some time creating a stash of breast milk. You can use breast pumps to express milk for your baby and buy bags to freeze the milk in. We recommend these.
The time you have during maternity leave is something that you will cherish forever but you have to return to the office sooner or later. There are many things you could do during your maternity leave and we don’t want you to be sad if you cannot do them all. What you do is up to you and you are free to explore what suits you best to get the most out of your maternity leave but most importantly pritoritise your recovery and enjoy developing that life changing bond with baby!