Monday, October 19, 2015

Getting the Most Out of Maternity Leave

Today is the day.

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The day that I have been dreading ever since I met Cora. The day that has been in the pit of my stomach, growing bigger with every cute smile and coo. The day that has caused me to randomly cry for the past few weeks. 

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How am I supposed to leave her? 

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But, I can, and I will, and I know in my heart it will be fine. Danielle may have to push me out the door, but I have done this before, and I know it is what’s best for me and my family. 

Now that I have done this maternity leave thing twice, I consider myself an expert. Here is my advice on how to squeeze as much as possible out of that incredibly precious time.

-Go places. Ina was born in the beginning of December, so my first maternity leave was spent in my living room. I swore that this time would be different and it was. Not only did we go on a walk almost daily,

 

 we also went to Branson for a little family trip,

  and the girls and I flew to Houston to visit family.

 

This is likely the last 12 weeks I will get off work until I retire, so I wanted to take advantage of it. Also, I think that people are just scared to take babies places, but now I know that taking an infant somewhere is much easier than taking a toddler somewhere, as infants can’t move and don’t have their own opinions. 

-Wear an elastic waist whenever possible. Seriously. A few weeks ago I was “able” to “fit” into my pre-maternity clothes and anytime I put them on I regretted that decision a few hours later. Learn from my mistakes -just choose comfort. In the same vain, I did purchase one pair of jeans a size up so that I would be comfortable if jeans were necessary.

-Send other child(ren) to daycare. At least a little. Maternity leave is the only concentrated bonding time Cora and I will have, and I knew it would help if Ina went to daycare one to two days a week. This also helped to entertain Ina on the days when I wasn’t doing much besides nursing Cora and kept Ina in somewhat of a routine. However, there is no doubt that this time allowed me to grow closer to Ina and I am so thankful for that.

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-Sleep in. I initially had big plans to get up before the girls and get things done, but then I realized that I would be doing that for the rest of my life. Why rush it? It has been lovely to wake up to the sun or Ina rather than to an alarm.

-Use Google calendar for social activities and make a point to set up play dates. My typical work brain could keep track of social dates pretty easy, but on maternity leave the days and weeks start to blend together. It took me a few almost missed events to realize I needed to start using my calendar. This also motivated me to fill it with some playdates, especially for Ina. Also, let’s be real, the adult interaction was nice for me too. 

-Double meals and freeze half

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Once I started cooking again, I realized that if I was actually going to invest time in the kitchen, I needed to make the most of it. So, any time I made a meal that seemed “freezable” I would double the recipe and freeze half of it. We know have a few extra meals for the next few weeks. If it works well I plan to keep doing this, as I know the time from when we walk in the door to when our heads hit the pillow will seem small. 

-Don’t watch TV or read books. Because I am the type of person that gets sucked into things, I knew that if I started reading a book or watching a TV series, I would only want to do that. So, with the exception of Royals games and Tom and Jerry, the TV has stayed off. I did read one book when Cora was first born and I needed to rest, but I found myself saying, just one more chapter, so I didn’t start another one. Surprisingly, the few times when I have thought about starting a book or turning on the TV, staring at the ceiling in silence was just as helpful.

-Remember. I want to never forget the way her body contours next to mine after she is done eating. The way I can breathe her in. The way she returns my smile. The way my heart soars when her eyes meet mine and light up with love. 

Those memories will be my emotional sustenance over the next few tough weeks. Here’s to my new “normal."

Have a good day!

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