Recently one of my friends announced that her maternity leave was beginning! With a baby due in January, she has a whole year ahead of her to enjoy some downtime with her new arrival. Back when I had my maternity leave, I probably didn’t appreciate the pre-birth part of it as much as I should have. Both pre and post-birth, there is lots of fun to be had, even if you are large, angry, and feeling like you are living in organizational chaos.
1. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
If this is your first pregnancy, take the beginning of your maternity leave as a golden opportunity to sleep. Trust me, after the birth your sleep patterns are going to revolve around someone very small and loud. If this is your second, third, or even fourth bout of maternity leave, try finding some time to sleep anyway. When your baby arrives, everything will be very exciting. Still, getting some snooze time in now is sensible.
2. Make New Friends
From aqua natal classes through to pregnancy yoga sessions, there are plenty of ways for you to meet new people and make new friends. Sure, you might have lots of amazing friends right now, but having someone who is due around the same time as you is a great way to establish an empathetic connection. From that frustrating final couple of weeks to the sleepless nights, you can empathize with each other. These new friends will be valuable connections when you need to rant.
3. Clear Stuff out
I sometimes feel like I live in a land of stuff. Thinking back to college take one, I didn’t have even a teeny fraction of the stuff I have now. Just when I feel like I am going to clear out said stuff, I accumulate more. Okay, when your maternity leave comes, you need to make way for everything that comes with the small person about to exit your uterus. Start selling, donating, and throwing like there’s no tomorrow. At the end of this process, everything will feel temporarily spacious.
4. Take a Weekend Away
Whether you are alone with a partner, by yourself, or you already have a family, taking a weekend away is going to be cathartic before the baby arrives. When it comes to partners and families, this means you get to re-connect with them. As far as you are concerned, this is generally just great downtime. By the end of your break, you will be ready to face the challenges ahead. Try tying this one in with sleeping, it works amazingly well.
5. Eat, Eat, Eat
Okay, once the baby arrives it is generally a good idea to stay healthy as far as food is concerned. However, I highly recommend not going on a weight loss diet until you feel physically recovered in other ways. Get cosy with some of your favorite healthy snacks and let yourself go every so often. With intermittent sleep for at least a few weeks, stocking up on snacks is going to be a sanity savior. By the end of your maternity leave, you’ll be grateful you stayed well-prepared.
6. Take Some Post-Birth Downtime
Okay, so a lot of people may disagree on this one. It’s lovely having your relatives come to visit, the close ones at least. However, when everyone decides to inundate you within seconds of your placenta evacuating, those well-meaning visits can be a bit of a pain. This is all relative, but consider placing a time limit or people limit when it comes to visits—until you feel ready of course! This all ensures you don’t feel worn out by the end of those first few weeks.
7. Cuddle, Lots
Babies are only small for a little while. Before you know it, everyone will want to get in on the action. Make the most of your little one in his or her teeniest state by having lots of cuddles. Cuddle in bed, on the sofa, wherever. Not only is this a great way to relax, you will create lots of snuggly memories.
Your maternity leave will probably come to an end at some point. Like an amazing and long vacation, you need to make the most of it while it lasts! From downtime with yourself while you are pregnant to cuddles with your baby, there’s plenty you can enjoy. During your maternity leave, what did you enjoy doing most?