This time last year I was on maternity leave, blissfully inhaling my baby’s smell all day as I fed him, changed him and took 1,000 photos. While that’s the picture I painted about my postpartum days, it was not really the truth. Maternity leave was not a baby-bonding vacation. I got a blink-of-an-eye break off work, which was just enough time for my body to recover from childbirth. In the midst of learning how to keep my baby alive, I realized that I still need to keep up with my chores. It wasn’t easy but I have a few tips to share for new moms looking to manage their time and balance their priorities while on maternity leave.
I planned the day
It didn’t always go according to plan but we had a way of doing things. My days centered around exclusively pumping and my own meal times. For him, I kept track of how much he eat and when he needed a diaper change to get a feel for what his routine. When the baby was sleeping I took that time to do one thing and one thing only, such as throwing in a load of laundry or cleaning up the kitchen. Then I would take a break and relax a bit. I needed to remember that I was recovering myself and the leave was also for me as well as the baby.
We shared the chores
Even before my son was born, my husband and I divided the household duties. But after baby, I needed to add a few more to his plate. I couldn’t very well load the dishwasher while holding a sleeping infant. Some days I didn’t get one thing done on my mental checklist. And that was okay. If something had to be done, I waited until my husband got home so I could hand off the baby for a while so I could take care of a few things. If he preferred, I would continue to watch the baby while he helped play catch up on the laundry and dishes.
I simplified dinnertime
When you’re taking care of a newborn, it’s not easy to spare an hour or so to prepare a meal. For me, slow cooker meals were ideal and with little effort I could dump a bunch of ingredients into the bowl and at the end of the day, dinner is served. This also prevented us from ordering take out every night.
I said “Yes” to help
My family and friends were so gracious and I heard, “Let me know if you need anything” from everyone who came to call. Instead of putting on my super-mom cape, I said, “Actually, yes. I do need a few things at Target.” On their way over to see the new baby, they were happy to help.
Every mother is different but the most important thing I would pass on would be to enjoy your time at home with the little one. You’ll never get this time back and they grow so quickly. Hang up the mop, put your side projects on hold, and just watch your baby sleep for a while (they do that a lot).