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5 Steps to a More Joyful Maternity Leave

“When I look at you I can feel it. I look at you and I’m home.” – Dory

Let me start off by saying I am no expert in this. I’ve only been a mom for two months and let’s be honest.. who can figure out this whole parenting thing in just nine weeks? At the beginning of my maternity leave I was already feeling my anxiety creep in and was feeling completely lost and exhausted. I was also dreading the day my husband was going back to work just a week and a half after bringing little Austin home. Part of me was sad we’d never have this time together again just the three of us and the other part of me was scared I’d fail as a new mom. 

When Jay left for work I told myself I was going to make a conscious effort to find joy in this time. I started focusing on taking care of myself in addition to Austin, instead of putting all of my energy and effort into this tiny human. These simple changes I made in my day-to-day routine helped tremendously. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you put just a little effort into yourself.

5 Simple Steps to a More Joyful Maternity Leave

  1. Take time for yourself.
    • Take at least 10-20 minutes for yourself every single day. Make yourself a healthy breakfast, put some makeup on, or just take time in peace and quiet. Now this is of course easier said than done (currently typing this with one hand due to a hungry baby). When you have a newborn you feel like you have to watch them like a hawk, even when they’re sleeping. However, if you spend just a few minutes every day taking time for you, it’s amazing how much more energy and motivation you have to take care of that sweet baby.
  2. Give yourself time to heal. 
    • As much as you want to be super mom right off the bat, you’ve got to give your body time to heal. You will not feel normal right away.  It will hurt to sit, use the bathroom, and sleep. You will not drop all of your pregnancy weight in two weeks. All of these things are normal. Take it easy, ask for help from your spouse or friends, and slow down. Your body was meant to do this and it will go back to “normal” eventually.
  3. Start healthy habits now.
    • If you’re anything like me, you treated your whole pregnancy as a “treat yourself” day. I definitely over-indulged in the sweets while I was pregnant even though I told myself at the beginning I wouldn’t. Enjoy your time celebrating over the first week or so and then hit the ground running. Find yourself a meal plan that keeps you accountable and follow it! You can also start some light exercise to encourage healing and kickstart your metabolism again.
      • My personal favorite meal planning apps are MyFitnessPal and Weight Watchers. MyFitnessPal is a free app that helps you count your calories and set weight loss goals. You can also connect this app to many fitness tracking apps, such as FitBit, to help track your activity as well. Weight Watchers is a paid program that helps you track your food on a point system. You are allotted a certain number of points per day based on your weight loss and activity goals. The cool thing about Weight Watchers is that a lot of healthy foods are zero points, which encourages good snacking. While it is a paid program, there are usually good deals to help with the cost.
    • Starting healthy habits has helped increase my confidence in myself and feel good overall. I’m now a full believer of everything in moderation and eating real food. Of course I’m still going to enjoy ice cream and cookies, maybe just not every day.
  4. Get out of the house.
    • You heard me. Do not be a person who is so scared of germs that you never leave the house until your baby gets their first shots. You will go crazy if you lock yourself away for six weeks. We got out of the house within the first four days of being home and it was so good for us and our baby. Our favorite places to go were Target, the mall, and a walking trail. If you’re not comfortable taking your baby in public, start taking walks around the neighborhood. A little fresh air will do wonders for you. Now I make a point to leave the house every day. Not only is it good for helping keep me happy, but it also has gotten Austin in a routine to be ready when I go back to IMG_6494.jpgwork.
  5. Enjoy the in-betweens and ask for help.
    • If you’re as lucky as we are, you were granted the most beautiful gift from God: a colicky baby. Colic is hard, especially when you are home alone. The crying seems to never end and the headaches seem to get worse. Remember: you were designed to do this. God is giving you this trial for a reason and you will be better for it. Enjoy the moments where your little one is happy and content. Put down the screens and cuddle with that wonderful little miracle you have created. If you feel like the in-betweens never come, check out my previous blog post for tips on soothing your baby.
    • If nothing seems to work, ask for help! There is no shame in admitting you need a break. Call a friend, a family member, the doctor, or a colleague. Anyone you love will come running to your aid if you need them and they should be more than happy to help.
      • If you feel constant depression, anxiety, or feelings of failure, you should talk to your OB. Postpartum mental illness is real and it is important you discuss it with a professional to get the help you need. Again, there is never any shame in admitting you need support.

Today is my last official day of maternity leave. While I am so sad to see my time at home end, I’m cherishing every second I’ve had at home. Cheers to all of you SAHM’s out there. You are rock stars and your job is the hardest of them all.