I would close my eyes, take a deep breath and look at my sweet baby boy.
I recently returned to work from my eight week maternity leave with my second baby boy. And gosh, do I miss being home with him. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but my last few weeks of maternity leave were so nice. Almost peaceful.
I know, how can taking care of a tiny newborn that depends on you for every little thing be peaceful? I promise I’m not crazy!
Here’s how I did it:
1. I lived in the moment. Truly.
I took the word “leave” very seriously.
Let me tell you, I am an extremely Type A person. I love to make lists. I love to mark things off my lists. I love to be productive. If I don’t rewrite my list each morning and efficiently schedule my day, I feel like a bit of a failure. (I know, I need to chill out. That’s a work in progress.)
But I decided I was going to go against my Type A brain, embrace what was in my mommy heart and just live in the moment.
When I would feel the need to run down to the basement and throw in a “quick load of laundry”, I would close my eyes, take a deep breath and look at my sweet baby boy. Remind myself that the laundry can wait, and I would stay exactly where I was, with his sweet little hand holding onto my finger. I would look at his fat little squishy face and try to memorize it. I will never get the chance to spend eight full weeks alone with my baby again. So I soaked it all up.
Yes, I was exhausted and covered in spit-up and got peed and pooped on multiple times. I rarely had the chance to shower and my hair didn’t come out of a topknot for weeks. But this is how I managed to enjoy my leave instead of letting my Type A brain take over.
2. I changed the items on my to-do list.
I am a creature of habit so even on my leave I would make a to-do list. But instead of it saying do the laundry, clean out closets, paint the upstairs bathroom and file away old tax documents, it said cuddle with your baby boy, take a nap, watch four seasons of Hart of Dixie on Netflix, and read the latest US Weekly. And I would mark those things off my list. It fueled my Type A need for productivity.
3. I took ALL the help that was offered.
If my mom said she would bring over dinner, I said yes. A family friend offered to keep the baby once a week for a couple hours so I could sleep or run errands. I said yes. My mother- in- law asked if she could keep my three- year- old so I could relax. I said yes.
There is ZERO reason to feel guilty for these things. People offer because they want to help. Allow yourself to say yes.
4. I got out of the house.
I made sure I left my house every day. It could be to take the baby for a walk or go to the gas station. But I made sure I left, even if it was just for a few minutes to sit on the back porch and drink coffee while the baby napped. It’s crazy what a little fresh air and a short conversation with an adult can do for your mood.
5. I took some ME time as well.
I had to have a c-section so I gave my body plenty of time to heal. I had my husband watch the kids so I could take an extra nap here and there. I did the little things that I actually enjoy doing. I ate a taco if I wanted one. I didn’t worry about the calories in the blizzard. I read a book I had been trying to read for five years. I took my work email off my phone. I got a pedicure. Ahhhh, it was so nice.
So mama, when you are on maternity leave, take an actual leave. Take advantage of the small amount of time you have with your precious newborn. They won’t be that little forever and everything else can wait.