Maternity leave is the wonderful time where mother, and sometimes father, gets to spend time with baby. This is when they form their bonds, learn their basic needs, and get to know each other's personalities and traits. It gives mothers time to get their bounce back while recovering, start a new career or hobby, and understand what parts of themselves they find in their child.
But, while maternity leave is a special time to share with a new baby, it can also be quite boring. And let's not forget about how lonely it can get as well. However, we are here to tell new mamas around the world that they can create their own adventures by taking the stroller out and getting some fresh air around the city. As your baby grows from newborn to infant to toddler, you will wonder where the time went. How did they just go from being unable to even make direct eye contact to running around the house chasing their 1st-year balloon?
There are things that must be done during maternity leave, since you're home, like tidying up and making dinner. Doing so saves time on the weekend to spend more time with the baby daddy. Yet, there are a lot of things that new moms regret not doing during their maternity leave. Luckily, we've compiled a list of 15 things to do before you go back to work and say goodbye to your newfound freedom.
15 Soaking Up Every Moment Just A Little More
First, you were pregnant for what seemed like forever. And the next thing you know, you've delivered a healthy, bouncing baby who's perfectly curled up in the crest of your arm. Then, you blink and all of a sudden you have a baby that was once able to fit into size newborn, or even preemie, and, suddenly, he's standing and wearing size 18 months. Where did time go? How can babies grow so much from one month to the next? In reality, it's more like from one week to the next. That sweet newborn smell is quickly disappearing, turning into the smell of steamed broccoli or yesterday's meatloaf (because you know all too well that there were pieces of meatloaf stuck in the folds of the baby's neck.)
These moments are the ones that are gone too fast.
One day, you're giving birth and the next you're about to go back to work and send your baby off to nursery school.
These moments are gone way too fast, and there's no reason not to capture every moment whether it be by posting them to social media pages, or scrapbooking, or even becoming a vlogger – some people even make careers out of it.
Gone are the days of having to carry two baby bags, because one was in the car for emergencies. Gone are the days of having to take a sleeping newborn from his warm coat, and having to bundle them up in a snowsuit, and then finally strapping them into the car seat, just to be hoisted up and brought into the car through a snowstorm. While these moments are the ones we wish would leave us, when they are gone, we actually miss them.
14 Spending More Time With Friends – Instead Of Being Home Alone With Baby
Maternity leave will drive a new mama mad. Sure, it's great to be able to stay home from work for months (or even a year if you're lucky enough to live in some countries.) It's also great to be able to do laundry the minute the baby spits up on that post-baby top that you just bought online that took over a month to arrive. And when the baby sleeps, it's a great opportunity to sleep as well, though we all know that new mom's actually scroll through their social feeds, make dinner, do laundry, shower, and the brave ones even add in a workout – those moms are few to none. But, eventually, these wonderful traits of being at home seven days a week get long, boring and lonely. We want a girls' night!
New mama, now's the time to pick up the phone and call a friend. Schedule a night with the gals, and enjoy a glass of sparkling water with lemon from a champagne flute just to feel fancy. Don't be afraid to wear that bright red lipstick. Open your closet wide and embrace the body your little beanie left you with, by slipping on that gorgeous backless black dress and matching slingbacks, let your hair fall along your back.
If you do treat yourself to a girls night out, then make it your own. It'll be difficult to discuss anything other than that super cute pile of baby flesh that smells like lavender, and who are probably sleeping by the time you go out. However, your friends have seen enough of your baby and your statuses about the exploding diaper that you had to face at the grocery store. Tonight's your night, enjoy it, embrace it, pamper yourself. End of story.
13 Giving Up – Living In Sweatpants and Unwashed Hair
So you look at yourself in the morning, and there you are, not looking the way you expected. First, you expected that those dark circles and puffy bags were from the nightmare you had, but in fact, they're because you actually didn't sleep last night – that was the nightmare. Then, you at least half expected that your hair looked as flawless as those Instagram messy buns when in reality it's actually being held up from that excess grease. Look down, what are you wearing? It's probably the same pair of leggings that make you look super cute, but it's day three of them being both your day and night pants, with what looks like some crusted applesauce on the knee.
It's official, you're a mom.
Although it may look like you've given up on life, you know your heart is in a better place. You would love to be able to take your morning (or evening) shower, where you exfoliated your face and even left the conditioner in your hair for the full three minutes. Moms don't get that kind of luxury, the kind where wearing perfume was just to smell nice. So, if you notice that you're wearing the same pants, your hair's tied up in a bun that looks like it's creating a nest, just know it's okay. We're all sporting the same gear, and we can spot each other through the aisles of the grocery store. Soon enough, you'll be trading in your days old sweatpants for some pantsuit that you'll have to try to find a slot in your busy day to iron.
12 Documenting The Whole Thing, Maybe Even Becoming A Vlogger
When you take a picture, time stands still. It's a moment frozen forever. Parents can turn around to wash their hands and it seems that their baby has aged a whole month. They blink and their beanie has sprouted another 2 inches taller. What?! Make it stop! This is the reason why your Instagram page has been exploding in baby pictures.
Though, this may annoy some of you, for parents this is amazing. Everything a baby does is absolutely adorable: the way his eyes roll back when he's milk drunk, the way his fingers wrap around yours as he falls asleep, the way he first started making bubbles that turned into babbling.
Here's a helpful hint for all new mamas who are looking for ways to pass their maternity leave. Try scrapbooking! It's an old-school technique that can go a long way. Eventually, those USB keys will fade (just like floppy disks,) and your kids won't be able to look back on them in the future. Something physical, like a picture book or scrapbook, can last a lifetime. However, if you're into that techno stuff, start up an email address. When your child turns 18, give them the password and they'll be able to look at all the stories, images, random thoughts you've had from the moment your baby was born until your baby turned 18 and got his first car. This is a great way that even grandparents can share in the memories.
Or you could become a vlogger! A vlogger is like a blogger, but they video things rather than write them. The increasingly popular hobby has even become a career for some!
11 Completing Just One DIY
It's 2 am and you've just put your little babe back to sleep for the sixth time tonight. Although it's more than likely that you're exhausted beyond belief and could probably sleep for six months straight, that's just not a possibility at the moment. The ultimate question is do you try to go back to sleep, knowing you'll be awakened again, or do you scroll through endless Pinterest pins until you find the one that you might be able to achieve. Usually, it's the latter that wins the pot.
Even though you may have over a thousand pins saved to your board, there's always one craft that will stand out because you think it's super practical and could (hopefully) save some time as a mother. So, you try one.
Even though it was an epic fail, at least you tried to be a Pinterest guru.
Listen, folks, Pinterest is a great way to pass the time, and it's a great way to become inspired, but if you don't have a crafty bone in your body, they will never work – even if you followed the step-by-step video it included and even watched another step-by-step on YouTube. The end result of your diaper basket will end up being your gardening basket because you spent all that money and it just didn't work out the way you wanted it to.
10 Taking The Stroller Out Of The Box, And Going For A Hike
Everyone has a stroller that they use to carry their little babe around the mall or to push your beanie around the museum. Eventually, the baby outgrows the car seat that came with the stroller system, and you're left with a baby that weighs a ton and a half in his car seat. So parents have strollers that they can no longer use, a car seat that still needs to face the back even though baby's feet are curled above the back of the seat, and now you have to carry your heavy baby around.
Luckily, for most parents, they have a backup stroller.
The moment where dad goes back to work and you're home alone with the baby, you tell yourself that you're going to go here and there, travel and put the stroller to use. Instead, it sits in the basement and becomes covered in dust and sports an old basement smell.
Mama, go out. Explore the city you live in and even the surrounding cities with your little baby. These days go by so quickly that it'll feel as though one minute you have months left of maternity leave, and the next thing you know you have one week left and you've done nothing. Fill your lungs, and the lungs of your wee one, with fresh air, explore the bird sanctuary by the water or even take a little day road trip somewhere a few hours away. If you're super adventurous, pack a lunch and take a hike – picnic at the highest peak. And, of course, capture the moment for the scrapbook!
9 Listening To People When They Said, "Sleep When The Baby Sleeps"
The baby's finally asleep and your list of to-dos is bigger than the dark circles under your eyes. Between the laundry needing to be folded, the groceries needing to be put away, the bathroom needing to be cleaned and dinner needing to be started, the list never ceases to go down and the next day it has to be done all over again. What's a girl to do at that point? She musters up the courage and starts to tackle it on head first. It's not like it's going to magically get done on its own anyway, right?
Eventually, it gets to a threshold where new mamas are past the point of exhaustion.
They walk like zombies, roam their homes as if they were ghouls.
And that's okay because that's what being a new mom is all about. But, there comes a time when a fantastic new mama, like yourself, simply needs to take a nap.
Mama, you've probably heard "sleep when the baby sleeps" hundreds of time, and you've thought to yourself, "ya right, when would this and this get done?" And, we totally get that there are a bunch of things that need to be done. But, what mothers need to do is to remember that without you, your little beanie won't thrive. Without you, a well-rested mama (okay, slight exaggeration on the 'well rested' part,) your baby will be fussy and uneasy. If you're exhausted there's no way that you can be your best self, which is the best mommy that your little bean needs. So, yes, there may be a bunch of stuff that needs to get done, but put yourself first for once. Your body is a temple and it needs to be cherished as one.
8 Out With The Old, In With The New - Changing Careers
As a new mother, you've transformed into a new woman. You may have chopped your hair off and opted for nude nail polish rather than bright, bold pinks. Whatever you've done, you can thank your raging hormones for it. Giving the gift of life, your mannerisms begin to change, your voice may even change, and your outlook on life changes. Of course, it's expected to feel a little je ne sais quoi when entering a new chapter of life. Gone are the days of bar hopping on a Friday night and ending at brunch on Sundays.
However, a new mom may also look at life differently in terms of her career goals. The days of getting coffee for someone else, punching in and punching out, being completely unhappy at your desk may no longer be working for you. On the flip side, you may completely love your job and all it's perks. Maybe though, you no longer want to work for large companies that dictate when you get to eat lunch. Being on maternity leave gives you an entirely new perspective on life. For one, you're bored and your mind wonders. But, you also see things clearly. Do you want your child looking up to someone who's miserable at their job or do you want to showcase what it's like to wake up in the morning and love your job? So, we say "You do you, mama" because you only have yourself and your child to please.
7 Taking People's Advice When They Say, "Get On Daycare Lists, ASAP"
The daycare lists are long.
Mama, you need to take this one seriously. Daycares and nurseries have wait times longer than the most elite restaurant in Hollywood. These lists can take years for you to actually make it to a first interview process, assuming you get a callback at all. There are the horror stories of women waiting up to four years to be given a spot, but at that point, their child is about to begin kindergarten.
This vicious cycle continues year after year.
When your best friend or, even, your neighbor from down the street who just couldn't stop rubbing your belly during your morning jog, (I'm talking about you, Linda,) asks if you've begun the daycare process, take her words and run with them. Everyone means well, even if they've asked the same question that everyone else has been asking.
You would hate to be going back to work and having to scramble to see which relative could take your little babe on which day. Don't even get me started on those relatives that offer to help but expects you to be back at three in the afternoon. Do yourself and your cousin, Judy, a favor and put yourself on a list the minute you find out you're pregnant.
6 Losing The Pouch Before Going Back To Work
You've dreamed of this day since the day you found out you're pregnant: you get to work out! You recently survived the six weeks without working out, and now you get to tackle the main focus head on. Doesn't it feel great to hoist those mommy spandex pants (you know, those high tops are there to stop some jiggling too,) and sweat out all those iHop pancakes that you craved?
Deep down, we collectively know that we want to look absolutely fabulous the day we have to go back to work. We want to show our colleagues that we were productive during our maternity leave and looked like a total babe for our Instagram pictures and Snaps.
Through, social media and celebrity pregnancies, it's easy to assume that you should be able to "bounce back" with ease. Don't give yourself a hard time if you can't. In the immortal words of the great Chrissy Teigen, "We have nutritionists, we have dietitians, we have trainers, we have our own schedules, we have nannies. We have people who make it possible for us to get back into shape. But nobody should feel like that's normal, or like that's realistic."
If you really want to though, there are gym membership that cost as little as 10$ a month. For those who'd prefer not to leave the house, or can't for that matter, there are apps and old fashioned DVD's that can also help out the cause (I can't believe I just called a DVD old fashioned.)
5 Having More Date Nights
As parents to a new little human being, you probably don't have time for your weekly Tuesday date night. Instead, Tuesdays are now for an afternoon and evening of chaos, a couple explosive diapers, some change of outfits due to spit up – this goes for moms and babies alike,– a few feedings, a bath, and lots of hugs and snuggles before bed. Honestly, I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
However, when you go back to work, you'll look back and wish that you at least reserved a night a month for each other, whether this involved chic dinners out, checking out a new flick, or just spending quality time with each other. But, unfortunately, like everything else about parenting, it is so tough to be able to reserve that time for yourself, let alone someone else.
Let's break this taboo of taking time for ourselves, and giving us space from our babies.
It's not that we don't love them, but sometimes it'd be nice to have a dinner that didn't involve a couple meltdowns. Also, new parents have to remember that just because you took the role of parents, it doesn't mean you've lost your identities as individuals or as a pair.
4 Never Giving Dad The Night Shift
In the last few months home, you've been walking up a couple of times a night and at the crack of dawn to feed or change your screaming baby. In fact, you've probably been waking up throughout the night since before your baby was born. This, however, was probably due mostly to needing to wake up to use the washroom – something your husband can't help with. By the third week post-baby, you're probably staring at your darling husband as he sleeps, snoring endlessly, with the air conditioner blasting directly in his face. Doesn't he look so peaceful... not anymore. Mama, throw that slipper at his sleeping face and tell him to go into the nursery so you can get a few minuets of shut eye.
To all our breastfeeding sisterhood members, it's called a pump and the geniuses that invented it did so for exactly this reason - sleeping dads. If you're not pumping or breastfeeding, then he should be able to figure out formula just as well as you did and there will be no excuses for him not to do it.
Here's a helpful tip: if you've got a large nursery, adding a mini fridge in the closet or corner of the room with a bottle warmer on top, will save you a wonders amount of time.
3 Getting Too Close Too Soon
There's a reason that all doctors, and especially your OB/GYN, told you to restrain yourself from his handsome fatherly ways. Let's take a moment to all agree that new dads are totally hot. Even though some of them may be lazy, it's just the way they are with their sons or daughters that just makes you want to have another right away. Am I right or am I right, ladies? But, the doctor did tell us that we would have to wait six weeks to even look at your partner in that way, and even longer if you had a C-Section (we feel your pain, and apologize that you have to go through this.)
Of course, there are some among us who don't listen when our doctors order us to do something.
Though many women don't believe they can fall pregnant after they've had a baby, and that is a complete myth. In fact, women can become pregnant within weeks post baby. Imagine yourself with your six weeks old baby, and you find out you're pregnant a few days later. Now, you're pregnant with a newborn, and your oldest will be nine months-old when your baby is born.
Oops, I did it again.
Or what about the scenario where you didn't take a doctor's advise and went on because you had stopped bleeding? Unfortunately, being intimate with your partner, when you're still recovering, could open up all kinds of fresh tissue and skin, and staples. So here's to hoping you stocked up on adult diapers!
2 Not Spending Enough Time With Hubby Or Partner
Your maternity leave is about to come to an end and you realized that you were so busy with the new baby that you completely forgot about your anniversary. Or, you're sitting in the Starbucks drive-through, waiting for that venti triple espresso soy latte, and you and your boo's song comes on and you realize that you haven't had your spontaneous dances in the kitchen to this song. Life as a new mother has been overly tiring, rewarding but tiring, and you begin to miss the moments with your beau. Some couples used to enjoy taking day trips to different states, or just enjoyed making dinner together on a Saturday evening.
Whatever it is that you used to do, start it up again. There is a reason that the two of you became parents and it would be unfortunate for you to lose that spark. Embrace each other, and don't be afraid to show some minor PDA around the baby and watch how he or she will give a deep hearty laugh.
Before your maternity leave ends, take a day or two to yourselves. Book an afternoon at the spa, eat lunch at the new Chinese restaurant that opened up by the pediatrician's office, just enjoy the silence between the two of you. And, this is especially for those parents who find themselves not only breastfeeding but co-sleeping. Give yourself a few baby-free moments.
1 Eating For Two
Some people take the expression "eating for two" too literally. The moment the double pink lines appear, they raid the fridge for the leftover fried chicken from the night before, and you can't forget the potato salad too, because, you know, you're eating for two. But before you go off the grid and overindulge yourself, keep in mind that this is a recipe for disaster.
When you're home with a baby who can't talk back to you, when you're looking for someone to talk to, being at home becomes very long and lonely. So we, as emotional women, tend to eat our way through The Ellen DeGeneres Show straight through to Law & Order: SVU. What's worse, we tend to feed the beast without even realizing it. Literally, stop right now, and put that nacho down. To get rid of that mom pouch, one can't just work out. In theory, she could. But, a healthy diet will be the biggest factor. If you look good, you feel good.
But it's not just about the way you look. It's also about the way you feel, and how you can bring your best self to the table every day for your little bub who depends on you to teach him how to play, how to learn, and how to laugh. Fuel the body with nothing but the best, and you'll only be the best.