Updated: Feb 2
Beginning the moment you first see that positive pregnancy test until forever, being a mom is the most perfect combination of so many feelings and emotions. It is the pinnacle of love, it puts all other responsibility you have to shame, and the pain of delivery is certainly the most rewarding pain that exists!
Maternity leave encompasses its own set of feelings and emotions including the exhaustion of nurturing a new life, the pride you feel when you and your baby figure out breastfeeding, and the roller coaster of emotions in-between that accompany postpartum hormones. There is no dispute that maternity leave is all about healing, bonding with your sweet babe, and learning how to take care of your new little one. However, with the full range of feelings new moms experience, I believe there is also a small part of maternity leave that is meant to be all about you. That you deserve to be all about YOU!
Whether your maternity leave is 6 weeks or 6 months, it is important to take a small piece of that time to heal yourself. Your soul. As a mom, your entire being will forever be dedicated to raising your baby to be the healthiest and happiest little kiddo there is. Throughout your journey as a parent, you must also make time to maintain your own health and happiness, beginning now. With that, I present...
... the maternity leave bucket list for moms!
1. Be a lady who lunches!
During maternity leave, you spend most of your time in the house, un-showered, nursing your baby, or trying to sleep. "Doing lunch" during the work week is probably something you often wish you had time for (when not on maternity leave), so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.
Take some time to get out of the house, socialize, and splurge on a nice lunch (and maybe even a cocktail!) with your spouse or a friend. Since your baby spends much of her newborn period sleeping... try to nail the timing and your sleeping babe will be the perfect lunch date.
Meet your husband midweek for a bite to eat over his lunch break. The perfect way to break up his day and give the two of you a chance to connect outside of your normal routine.
Meet up with a friend who has been dying to lay eyes on your babe and get in some quality girl time.
2. Take a road trip
Spend a long weekend away with your growing family for a change of scenery, a chance to explore a new place, and some special time with your spouse.
Low Key - Of course, you'll want to plan a low-key weekend with a flexible schedule to allow for time to feed the baby and let her play.
Baby Wearing - Whether you go to a bed-and-breakfast in the mountains to enjoy some hiking or to a new city where you'll hit up a museum, be sure to bring your baby carrier with you. Strap your little one into the baby carrier and she will be happy to enjoy the fresh air and change of scenery, all while being close to you.
And don't fret about messing up her bedtime routine... you can (and should) stick to her routine while on your trip. Bring a bottle of wine and a deck of playing cards and plan on a romantic evening in.
Take some time each week (or each day, depending on how motivated you are!) to move your body. No matter the time of year your baby is born, you can make this work.
Go for a Walk - If the weather is nice, go for a walk! You could push the stroller or strap your baby into the baby carrier for a little added weight, and hit the pavement.
Exercise Video/App - If it's a little too hot or cold to get out of the house, find an exercise video to do in your living room while your baby plays on the floor next to you.
Mother-Baby Exercise Group - Or if you are searching for some new mommy friends, mother-baby yoga could be the perfect motivation to get moving.
No matter how you choose to move, getting exercise will help heal your body and make you feel good about yourself.
4. Binge watch TV
It's no secret that newborns eat frequently. During the first few months of your baby's life, you will most certainly experience times when your baby wants to nurse for hours on-end (did someone say cluster-feeding?). Take advantage of this dedicated couch time to catch up on the long list of shows you have been dying to watch. You won't have to feel guilty about the hours of TV time since you're stuck on the couch feeding the baby anyway. This mindless time is something you may not normally afford yourself which makes this indulgence extra special.
5. Alone time
Be sure to slip away from your mommy responsibilities and enjoy some alone time, even for just an hour or two.
Dying to get a pedicure?
Or a massage?
What about a girls night out?
It doesn't matter what you do, as long as it is alone (without your baby) and it is something you want to do.
Of course, you'll want to plan ahead of time so you have enough pumped breastmilk to leave with the baby and so your spouse can mentally prepare to be on duty. This time alone will be extremely rejuvenating , leaving you feeling energized and ready to take on your mommy responsibilities at one-hundred perfect.
If this is not your first maternity leave and you have other children in tow, (you know the drill!) adapt to what fits your family's interests. You can still build all of these fun things into your first few months of healing and ensure some time for you to heal yourself and maintain your happiness.
You are in this parenting thing for the long haul. Take time to balance your exhaustion and responsibility so you can love with all of your soul.
Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC
Born Happy, Owner and Coach
Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse and Certified Lactation Counselor. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies and toddlers as owner and Care Consultant for Born Happy.Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto (age 6), and Veronica (age 4).
She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.
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