Everyone tells you maternity leave is the perfect time to bond with baby—and to work on getting that baby book off to a good start and losing the baby weight.
I wish someone told me what I’d really be doing. So here’s six tips to help you make the most of your time away from work.
Sleep when baby sleeps
You’ll experience a whole new level of being tired. Your baby won’t be a good sleeper yet, so get in as much sleep as you can, even if they’re just catnaps. Don’t clean or do laundry instead.
Pump it up
Just when you thought adjusting to parenthood was overwhelming enough, then comes pumping. If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, start pumping now to build a stash. This liquid gold will run out faster than you think. Having extra will allow you to have much-needed date nights or time to pamper yourself. It’ll also come in handy in case a work meeting runs long and you miss a pumping session.
Transition from breast to bottle
All bottles are the same, right? Nope. Be prepared with more than one type as some babies won’t like the one you’ve chosen. Whether you’ve decided to breastfeed or use formula, have baby practice with a bottle to help them adjust for a smoother transition without you there.
Find child care
You may be lucky to have the grandparents step in, but for those without willing and able family members, finding the right child care can be tricky. Start searching early, even when baby is still in the oven. Sure, agencies and websites offer guidance and background checks, but interviewing and finding the right one for your family can take awhile.
Create a manageable routine
Baby makes the rules now and the only rule now is to expect the unexpected. Don’t think you can wake up the same time you did pre-baby and still make it to work on time. Establishing a morning and evening routine with baby in the mix before heading back to work will help ease stress.
Meal prep/assess your clothes
When my maternity leave came to an end, I had nothing to wear or eat unless it was takeout. Research quick and easy recipes and prepare freezer-stored meals. Being on baby’s schedule, finding time to prepare dinner is impossible. Prepped meals will be a lifesaver as you’re adjusting to your new routine, not to mention lighter on your wallet.
There is also a good chance your body won’t be back to pre-baby yet and that is perfectly normal. Assess your clothes and know you’ll most likely transition some of your maternity wear into postpartum wear. And if you decide to nurse, make sure your bra will accommodate for pumping on the job.
This article originally appeared in the digital edition of Hey Baby. Read the rest of the issue.