Making the Most of Your Maternity Leave
Many moms will tell you they think working a full-time job is easier than being a full-time stay-at-home mom. As a guest blogger at ScaryMommy.com so eloquently puts it, “I want to go back to work. Not because I don’t love my 1-year-old but because I want to escape him.…Rather than obsess over the nutritional content on his high chair tray. Rather than watch the Wiggles for one more minute.”
Allison Hahn, PsyD, shares, “When you come back from the hospital beginning maternity leave, initially it is an overwhelming experience in terms of how little you actually know—regardless of how informed you thought you were—about caring for a newborn.” She continues, “What can be particularly shocking for professional moms is how little they get done during a day. The typical thought is ‘I have the whole day at home for several weeks? I’ll get that re-fi completed, get the shed painted, write that novel and keep the house spotless.’ It is shocking to realize that you get NOTHING accomplished…”
To get out of nonstop baby mode, hook up with your current mama pals or with new ones you meet through local activities calendars you can find online and in your local parenting magazine. If your sleep-deprived brain can’t figure out a place to go during cold weather with your baby, check out fast food restaurants with indoor play areas; community centers, churches, malls or gyms with set playtimes; or trade off meeting at a friend’s house. Of course we all know these playdates aren’t for your teeny new sidekick, but for you! Keep the diaper bag stocked at all times so you can bolt whenever you start feeling cooped up. Likewise, keep the stroller or sling in the car so you have one less thing to think about.
Forging a routine might help when things seem out of control, especially if you have an older child at home during this time, as well. It’s nice to be able to go to bed and know that every morning you’ll be waking up to a hot pot of coffee and a cup of yogurt with your favorite granola—that no matter what the baby does, you will still be able to enjoy these things! You also might think about scheduling some time out of the house at the same time on the same day of the week EVERY week (even after you go back to work). Jill Connors, pregnant mom of four, says, “It helped me to get out of the house every day, even if it was just to walk up the street with the baby in the stroller to treat myself to a fancy coffee.”
I quickly discovered that multitasking comes in just as handy at home with a new baby as it does at work. Strap the baby to your chest in a safe sling or carrier and start folding laundry while you return a phone call. And when you’ve had just about enough puke, poop and pee for any sane person to handle, realize that it’s not forever. Alyssa Ast of TheWMParentingConnection.com says, “Although you may be going stir crazy to get out of the house while on maternity leave, enjoy every moment while you can, because after you’re back at work, you’ll be wishing you were at home with your baby.”
Depending on your experience and your personality, at the end of your maternity leave you may be crying, “Get me out of here!” or you may be lamenting, “I don’t want to go back to work!” Either way, know that your child will be fine in the long run. Take a look around you at all the adults you know. Can you tell who had a stay-at-home mom and who had a working mom? Probably not, so don’t waste a second on guilt during one of the most special times of your life.
Kerrie McLoughlin, Overland Park, is the mom of five and author of The Tater Tot Casserole Cookbook. Catch up with her at TheKerrieShow.com.