How to enjoy your Maternity leave with baby | 21 tips
Whether you are taking 6, 9, or 12 months of parental leave, it’s so important that you have the best time possible, bonding with your baby and introducing them to the big wide world. Our small team of mums has come up with the best suggestions for enjoying yourself, from our collective experience.
1. Do ‘ladies that lunch’
Or at least go for coffee. Spending your maternity leave meeting at buggy-friendly coffee shops, getting takeaways, and doing buggy walks, will lift your spirits.
Invite existing and new friends with babies around in the daytime and generally make the most of not being at work 9-5. It’ll go so fast and before you know it, it’ll be over!
2. Go easy on yourself when it comes to keeping the house cleaned
Now unless you can still afford a cleaner while you’re on maternity leave, you’re going to have to compromise on the cleaning.
Accepting that your house will not be the clean and clutter-free haven it once was pre-kids is a great start.
Lowering your expectations and perhaps focusing on the important ‘’Hygiene’’ areas like the kitchen and bathrooms is your best bet.
Also, involve your partner and divvy out the jobs to take the pressure off yourself.
If you afford it, then maybe having a cleaner just once a month to give everywhere a once over and help you feel calmer will really
3. Don’t worry too much about routine
Especially for the ‘control freaks’ amongst us, not having a routine can be hard, leaving you feeling out of control. But the truth is, babies change a lot in the 12 months you’ll be on maternity leave and quite often, just as you have mastered a routine, babies have a habit of changing things.
The best option is to have a loose routine, based on the big milestones of the day.
Most young babies feed on demand and so your best efforts to try to stick to a routine may be quite disappointing.
4. Keep a checklist for your baby bag
Getting out of the door with a new baby can be one of the most stressful things, especially when you’re trying to remember what to take in your baby’s bag.
I cannot recommend enough putting together a checklist that you can use each day when you’re off to a baby group or to meet a friend.
Obviously, it’s best to make your own as it will be very personal to you, but here is my list as a starter for you.
Spare clothes x 2 sets
Formula Milk (cartons)
Snacks and drink (for you)
5. Start a blog
Capture all of your memories by taking lots of photos and writing about your experiences as a mum.
You will be amazed how much other people will love to share your experiences and you forget what your kids looked like as babies once they hit three and over.
If you don’t want to write too much, then how about a dedicated Instagram feed or some new Pinterest boards?
Take lots of candid photos of your baby around the house. You can also try taking your own studio-style photos of your baby at home.
Don’t forget to shoot lots of videos too. Your child will love to look back at these images and videos when they are a toddler!
As a business that sells baby gifts, we are always on the lookout for pregnant or new mums to collaborate with. If you’re great at taking photos, we’d love to hear from you!
6. Go shopping at baby’s nap time
I know the general advice is ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ but on the odd occasion that you’d like to go to the shops, it’s probably best that baby is asleep.
Believe me, I’ve tried shopping with a screaming baby, or trying to find somewhere to feed, stuck on a chair in a changing room, and it’s no fun at all.
If your little one is asleep in their buggy while you are browsing the aisles, you even get a little feeling of ‘me time’ and enjoy a much more relaxed experience. Enjoy!
7. It’s best to accept that you won’t love every minute.
I remember with my first son, being so overcome with tiredness and frustration that I packed a bag and was going to leave one evening. I have no idea where I was going, or what I would do, but I do remember it being awful. Luckily my husband made a joke about me not getting very far with a bag of just pants and socks and it snapped me out of my distress. I know it could have and often is much worse for other mums.
Accepting that it won’t all be Instagram milestone cards and perfect routines from the start, is probably the best you can plan for.
8. Do as many big house DIY jobs as you can before the baby arrives
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be doing any DIY any time soon after your little one arrives. You might have grand plans for house renovations during your time off, but when sleep deprivation and the biggest upturn of your life arrive, it’s highly unlikely, particularly in the early days DIY will be on the agenda.
‘Nesting’ is often the time when pregnant mums and their partners get lots of house jobs done in anticipation of a new baby arriving. Make the most of your nesting energy!
9. Go swimming!
They might not love it at first, but taking baby swimming, especially in a group with other babies and parents is so much fun and it’s a great way to make new mum/baby friends.
Waterbabies or similar is a great group swimming lesson.
Swimming pools are not always that warm, so it may be a good idea to invest in a pool suit just for a little bit of extra warmth.
They may scream at first, but don’t worry, eventually, your little one will love it and you will too!
10. Try baby Yoga
I hadn’t really heard about baby yoga until my second son was born. We signed up to a local course that was run by SureStart at the time, and it was so relaxing and fun.
They taught both of us how to relax and to help relieve some of the classic baby gripes like trapped wind, showing us a technique for gentle massage. I met a couple of mum friends there too, who I then went to other groups with. We do a lovely baby massage oil here
11. Join groups
That brings me on to the importance of joining groups, which I didn’t do a lot of the first time round, limited to swimming and the local baby weigh-in. Please learn from my mistakes on my first maternity leave, which only lasted 5 months as I was put under pressure to go back to work ASAP.
With my second son, we joined every group going and by this time has made a lovely bunch of mum friends with children of similar ages.
We tried anything going, from messy play, swimming, forest schools play, and outdoor buggy walks. There was even a group where a lady came to give us a talk about wanting to start her own business whilst on Maternity leave. That got me in a whole world of trouble!
Seriously, join groups and make friends. It makes the whole experience so much more fun!
If you’re a first-time mum, try to go to a group with a friend, or ring the organiser beforehand d and let them know you are new. They’ll completely understand!
12. Meal planning and batch cooking are brilliant ways you can prepare beforehand and make sure you’re eating well.
Lack of sleep combined with not eating properly is sure to send your body into disarray, so if you have meals planned out and lots of healthy frozen dinners ready before the baby arrives, it’ll really help you’ll both to stay less stressed and your body’s well fuelled.
Plenty of plant-based high protein meals, with a couple of meat or fish dishes each week is an ideal combination, with a variety of fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit for dessert will serve you well.
13. Drink Loads of water
It’s so important to stay hydrated and it’s so easy to forget and become dehydrated when looking after your little one. Staying hydrated is crucial for all bodily functions and plays a huge part in brain function too.
Mums who are breastfeeding need a constant supply of fluids to keep up their milk supply. You’ll probably notice whilst feeding that you feel thirsty more often. Don’t ignore these signs, which if left ignored could lead to headaches and less milk.
I’d recommend always having a bottle of water in your baby bag and taking regular sips throughout the day.
14. Get groceries delivered
The very last thing you want to be doing is trying to take a newborn around Tesco and try to do your weekly shopping.
At least for the first few weeks, book online food deliveries, sit back, relax and allow the 6th emergency service to save you from Supermarket mayhem.
15. Daytime napping
I’ll admit to utterly failing at this one, apart from the time when my mum arrived to visit and I was fast asleep on the sofa with Jonah in the Moses basket on the floor next to me, I was shattered.
Completely terrible at allowing myself to sleep during the day, I simply had too much I wanted to do, but I honestly would recommend it, even if you don’t do it every day.
Just half an hour of power napping has been found to have important health benefits. A power nap improves learning and memory, prevents stress, boosts mood and creativity, helps jump-start productivity and alertness, and even helps lower your risk for heart disease. (Sleepadvisor.org)
Mmmm I’m beginning to realise where my baby brain come from!
16. Sharing the load
Discuss how much your other half will be involved before the baby arrives
Sharing feeds especially in the evening, taking the baby out for a walk while the other one sleeps, and sharing the nighttime feeds can really save your sanity and your marriage.
There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is a form of torture, it can literally send you slightly mad!
We took turns getting up for the nighttime feed
Have a chat about how your other half can give you breaks so that you can retain your sanity.
If you are breastfeeding, your other half could take the baby for a walk during their nap so that you can rest without any disruptions.
If you can express a bottle or offer formula, get your other half to take a night feed so that you aren’t disturbed every two hours. It’s about figuring out a way that helps you both do your fair share.
17. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a very simple concept that just involves living more ‘in the moment’.
It’s about being focused on the ‘right now’, rather than worrying about things outside of your immediate control.
Mindfulness can help you be more present when it comes to spending time with your baby so that you are able to enjoy your time with your baby more.
Enjoy your now moments, try not to worry too far ahead, and just occasionally sit still and take deep breaths; in through your nose and out through your mouth…and relax!
18. Take a holiday
Your budget may already be stretched to breaking point during your time off, but if you can make the finances work it’s nice to take some time away. Even just a weekend in a new place can help to recharge your batteries, and it gives your baby some new experiences too.
It’s easy to get a little stir crazy when you’re at home with a baby most of the time. Getting away to somewhere new could be just what you need.
Explore a whole new world with your little one!
Well ok maybe not the whole world, but suddenly with a little one, there is a new world out there of adventures designed for little ones. Farm parks, ice cream parlors, messy playgroups, dance groups, airparks and zoos to name but a few. You’ll probably find that when you visit one, there will be lots of leaflets for other places too! You can never run out of places to go with little ones!
19. Stay in touch with work.
Returning to work from maternity leave can be difficult, reintegrating into a company after over a year’s absence has its challenges for both you and your employer. Research suggests that just under a third of women find it difficult to reacclimatise to work after a long break. It can be a really anxious time.
Employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity or adoption leave, these are called keeping in touch (KIT) days. KIT days are intended to help employees keep in contact with their workplace and allow them to do some work while still being on maternity leave. It may be possible to arrange these around the same days as nursery settling-in days or for friends or family to help look after your little one to allow you to gradually feel ok about returning to work.
20. Get your childcare sorted early on
This might be the last thing you want to think about, but it may be the thing that gives you the biggest headache. Places for popular nurseries can be hard to find, so get your child’s name down early and make sure you visit plenty of places to establish the ones you feel comfortable with. In my experience, you will never be 100% happy anywhere, because nothing compares to your own love and care. So do your research and in the end, follow your heart and your gut.
If you’re using a childminder or family then make sure you’ve had proper discussions about days and timings and preferences, just to give you peace of mind. It’s also a great idea to have some introduction days, where you leave your little one at nursery or with the childminder or family. That way, you’ll both get used to leaving each other and the worst of the separation anxiety will be out of the way. You’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the rest of your maternity leave knowing that one of your biggest worries is under control.
21. Start a business lol don’t laugh!
According to the Huffington Post, 1 in 6 women plans to start a business while they are on maternity leave and half of them actually do it and don’t return to their previous job!
It might seem a little mad, but you’ll be amazed how much motivation, energy, and momentum having a new baby can give you once you start to get your sleep and your mind back!
I came up with the idea for my business whilst on my first maternity leave, but it wasn’t until my second maternity leave 2 years later that it came to fruition.