10 things you can do on maternity leave – from the couch
Before I gave birth, I would tell people that my husband and I were just going to “wing” this baby thing and would try to figure it out as we went along. I really had no idea what to expect with any of it, especially what it would be like to go from working 60 hours a week to 24 hours of unscripted baby time a day.
Having several new mom friends, I did have a good idea that I would realistically not be tackling my Pinterest wishlist, keeping an impeccable house or creating 60 bulk meals to stock my freezer during this time. I did not, however, realize that much of my maternity leave would be spent on the couch. In yoga pants. With wet hair. My daughter wanted to be with me (on me?) all the time, which was a lovely feeling, except that it essentially relegated me to the couch for 8 weeks.
So if your time home turns out anything like mine, I present:
Things to do while on maternity leave while being held hostage on the couch by a sleeping/eating/snuggling baby:
(or, how I spent my 8-week maternity leave, often with a sleeping-baby-on-a-boppy around my waist).
1. Sleep. If you figure out how to do this, let me know. Everyone will tell you to sleep when the baby is sleeping, which is fantastic advice… that I was never able to take. To my disappointment, I’ve never been a big napper, so I found it difficult to sleep a lot during the day. I used the time when she was sleeping to shower and take care of some things around the house.
2. Work on your thank you cards. If you haven’t sent the cards for your shower gifts yet, this is a perfect opportunity. For gifts that came after the baby was born, I kept a running list of the sender and gift and would try to send out the thank you’s as the gifts came in. For me, that seemed way more manageable than tackling a huge list.
3. Fill out the baby book. Trust me, you’ll lose interest in this project quickly, so you might as well try to get as much filled out at the start as you can. You may need to run the “how much a gallon of gas cost when I was born” questions past your Facebook friends if you haven’t seen the light of day since your trip home from the hospital.
(full disclosure: I didn’t even own a baby book until the day after we got home from the hospital. I made my mom run out and buy me one when I realized I had overlooked that important item).
4. Design a photo book. I personally use Shutterfly because the books are super easy to make and they look great, but boy, do those suckers take some time. So whether you’re creating a digital book, a scrapbook or an old school photo album, this is likely another task that you won’t keep up with later, so getting some done while you’re on leave could be helpful. Going with the digital version is probably your best bet if you are underneath a baby for hours on end like I was.
(Also, if you’re anything like me, you’ll also find that the picture taking drops off drastically after the first month or so. I have one photo book dedicated to her first month, then a book for the next three months… and the third book is still saved in Shutterfly waiting for me to finish it).
5. Start a new TV series or catch up on an old favorite. For me, it was Pretty Little Liars and rewatching the entire Sex and the City series. I’m actually pretty sure that Holden now recognizes the SATC theme song. I’m hoping she turns out to be more of a Charlotte than a Samantha.
6. Read. Lengthy novel, trashy celebrity magazine, self-help book, weighty nonfiction. Pick your poison and escape for an hour.
7. Connect with other moms. If catching up with mom friends over coffee with unwashed hair doesn’t sound appealing, even a phone call, text session or Facebook chat with someone who can empathize, tell you you’re not crazy, offer advice and laugh with you at how your right boob was hanging out for two hours before you realized it can be invaluable.
8. Learn something new. I gathered up my never-touched crochet hooks and yarn and started following Craftyminx’s Crochet School tutorials. I learned several stitches and made a potholder. Have I touched the crochet hooks after my maternity leave? No. Did I feel like I was accomplishing something while on leave? Yes, if only for a little while.
9. Stay tuned in. Just because your world currently consists solely of diaper changes and feeding times, doesn’t mean the rest of the world stopped turning outside your window. Watch the local news, check in on Twitter, read your favorite news websites. Staying in the know will also help you feel connected to society in general.
10. Get acquainted. I literally spent hours snuggling with my daughter, staring at her, examining her tiny fingers and toes. I watched her sleep. I laughed at the funny faces she made and snapped pictures to text to my mom and my husband. After your maternity leave, you may not remember how to do the half-double crochet stitch you taught yourself, but you will remember the time you spent getting to know your new baby.
What did I miss? How did you spend your maternity leave?