Today’s Post is brought to you by my new friend Alesia over at A Bottle of Sanity. She’s got an awesome blog- I’d definitely recommend checking her out! She’s getting ready to have another baby and has some great thoughts to add to our Mentally Preparing for… series regarding Maternity Leave.
I am lucky and blessed to have my first year with both of my babies, but for my American friends, I’m sure many of you can relate to the very short 6 weeks that are available to you in the USA. I hope things improve for the better soon, but in the meantime, hear Alesia’s wise words to prepare!
When I was young, I would always tell my mom, “I’m never getting married or having kids. I want to have a career.”
Then I went to college.
All the ideas that I had for my life changed.
I met my husband in community college when I was 21.
I started going to community college in the fall of that year and met my husband that spring. We moved in together only five months later and we had our son the next summer.
We didn’t plan to have a child so early in the relationship, but life happened. And we were so excited leading up to it!
Thankfully, my job offers a six-week maternity leave for all employees even though I’d only been with them for ten months when I had our son.
I looked forward to the time off of work (with 60% pay) that I was going to be spending with my newborn. I thought that I couldn’t be more blessed.
Then I had my son.
I was in so much pain. My emotions were a frazzled heap of insanity.
And I had no idea what to do.
So, I spent my maternity leave in a mess of postpartum depression and Netflix binge-watching.
It was a very difficult six weeks.
I don’t want to make the same mistakes, so I’m planning some things for this maternity leave (early July to the middle of August).
Mentally Preparing for Maternity Leave
Here is a list of the three ways I’m preparing myself for maternity leave this time around.
1. Find a Friend, a Therapist, an Inspiration… Anything
I know that I have a disposition of depression and anxiety. I understand that this a part of who I am. No, I don’t have to let it rule me; but I do have to recognize it for what it is.
I’ve been talking to my OBGYN about depression and have asked for recommendations for therapists who specialize in postpartum depression.
I also took some time to research life coaches… and I may have found a self-care coach who is the perfect fit for me. She will call me weekly to check-in while offering support and encouragement through my maternity leave. It just so happens that her programs are six weeks long too!
You don’t have to do this alone. Find a friend who understands you and how you think.
Find a friend who understands you and how you think.
But there is a slight catch to this preparation tip. You have to be willing to be honest with this friend, therapist, or coach.
I’m going to be completely honest with you right now.
During my maternity leave, it didn’t feel real. I didn’t feel like this child was mine.
I honestly thought at times that I was just babysitting him and his mom would arrive any minute.
It never happened. And I felt guilty every time I realized the truth because it made me sad.
That was the postpartum depression that I didn’t realize I had because I didn’t talk through these thoughts.
I’m going to make sure I don’t make this mistake again.
2. Plan Date Nights with Your Hubby
This one is so important too!
I’m already a mom. I know how this works.
Date nights are few and far between. I miss how we were before kids and the things we used to be able to do.
Don’t get me wrong. Being a parent is great, but it is certainly a lot of hard work.
Maternity leave date nights can save your sanity. You may not want to leave your new baby with anyone.
Guess what? That’s totally normal.
Thankfully, newborns sleep a lot and you won’t have to stress too much about him/her making a mess of your dinner plans.
Just wait until they are toddlers. That’s when you can’t take them anywhere without some type of planning and prepping for the night to be a total disaster. Haha.
These date nights don’t have to be dinner out. They could just be a movie night with my husband while the kids are asleep.
My husband doesn’t always understand my struggles with depression. He respects it and doesn’t judge me, but sometimes it doesn’t make sense to him.
I have to make sure I talk to him about my day and what happened. Even if I only chased my three-year-old around while trying to breastfeed the new little one.
3. Get Out of the House
This could go along the same lines as going on date nights with your husband or significant other.
But it is so much more than just that.
Go for walks with Baby. Even if the walk includes a lazy stroll around your house. The fresh air will do wonders for your mood.
I remember spending most of my maternity leave in the house.
It was summer, it was hot outside, and this mama did not want to put normal clothes on… or be seen by anyone.
Then one day, I wrapped my son up in a Moby Wrap and walked around my apartment building.
He was excited about all the new sights and I felt like a million dollars at the end of the walk.
Some days, I would visit my downstairs neighbors just for a change of scenery. They were happy to see the baby, and I was happy to have a normal conversation with someone.
These things help you stay level-headed during your maternity leave.
It doesn’t have to be a time of dread. It’s not supposed to be, but it can.
This time home with Baby can be lonely and stressful.
It doesn’t matter if this is your first maternity leave or your fifth. There are still things you can do to make sure this one is the best.
Are you struggling with maternity leave? What are you doing to make sure this maternity leave is going to be less stressful?
Thanks again to Alesia over at A Bottle of Sanity! Once you’ve left a comment, go check out her blog!