The countdown to Baby R is on and I’ve been in full on nesting mode. They aren’t kidding when they tell you that nesting will kick in towards the end. I didn’t believe it at first. But since week 37, I’ve cleaned out my entire bathroom, laundry room, placed one too many Amazon orders, reorganized my nightstand, decluttered my closet and have made a list for everything. The craziest part is that my “nesting mode” literally kicks in around 10:30 pm. I know what you’re thinking…Austin is one lucky guy.
But between all the late night cleaning sessions and Amazon orders, I have been attempting to plan out my maternity leave. Honestly, this has been something I have struggled with since finding out we were pregnant. Questions I keep asking myself include: What does maternity leave look like for someone who is self-employed? How much time should I take off? How can I be present as a new mom, while keeping our team and website running effectively? Am I a bad mom for wanting to check my email…enjoying work? Etc.
Thankfully, my friends and co-workers have been an amazing resource. I’ve learned so much through my friends who have kids and my Instagram family. Both have been wonderful about sharing real advice and not pushing one certain belief or mom shaming.
I wanted to share some of the advice they mentioned that really stood out to me. I know many of you are working moms and if not a mom yet, someday want to be. The topic of maternity leave has come up more than once in my DMs and inbox and personally, I think it’s a topic worth talking about. So if you have an opinion on this, let us know in the comments below.
4 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN TAKING MATERNITY LEAVE:
1. DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
Working from home and being your own boss has many advantages, however, it also comes with added stressors. How much time should I take? Will my footprint in my industry fade the more time I take? Are opportunities going to stop coming to me the longer I am gone?
Regardless of the answer to those questions, as soon as your baby is born they become the priority. With that in mind, my biggest advice is to tune everyone else out and do what works for you and your family. If looking at emails at night helps you to feel connected to the outside world, look! If you do better with an all or nothing policy, ignore it all until it feels right.
Take as little or as long as you need to heal, adapt and figure out your new normal. Because you are your own boss, you can set the rules, so be good to yourself and your baby.
The real world will also be there when you return, however, you can never get those precious first months back with your newborn.
2. SET BOUNDARIES: YOU CAN STILL CHECK IN WITH YOUR TEAM AND BE AN AMAZING MOM
I’m not a freelancer, but working in finance for the past few years, a huge part of my identity has been defined by my job (I know that sounds really sad, but I’m sure a lot of professional women can relate). I was really upset/anxious in the lead up to maternity leave, but was lucky enough to get a maternity coach provided by work. She advised me to think through how I wanted to stay connected to work to ensure that I didn’t feel as though that part of my life was over.
I started mat leave 3 weeks ago and have set up bi-weekly calls with my manager to stay up to date with what’s happening in the office, have penciled in all strategy days to make sure my voice is at the table when making key decisions and will try to stay connected with the industry via all of the incredible content on LinkedIn.
– Laura, TTD Reader, Finance
3. SHOW YOURSELF GRACE
Show yourself as much grace as possible and soak up the newborn season. Work, friends, pre-baby body – ALL of it will come back! You can never recapture the season with you and your first child again.
4. BE SELFISH WITH YOUR TIME
You only have such a short time of it just being you and your sweet babe after 9 months of him being with you 24/7. I let my work phone die and honestly ignored my personal phone unless it was important. It can be uncomfortable at first since people are used to having easy access to you, but just remember to ask yourself if dealing with that is more important than what you are doing right now.
Oh! Also – you’re going to be tired no matter what. Once you start to get your baby on a schedule (I am extremely passionate about Moms On Call) set your alarm to rise about 30 minutes before your son. Take a minute to take a shower and put on new clothes, even if they’re just new pajamas. Have a cup of coffee or watch a little of the news. It did so much for my postpartum mental health to not wake up and start my day to my daughter’s cries and be frantic from that moment on.
– Laura, TTD Reader and Market Representative
4. PREP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN BEFOREHAND
That 4th trimester is such a precious time, especially with your first. I prepped for a 5-week maternity leave so I wouldn’t have to touch my computer, but I could still provide my online community with relevant content to serve them. I slept in, I focused on nursing, I enjoyed my family and visitors. I think life sometimes glorifies bouncing back to work and “hustling” all the time, but that feeling is so fleeting.
The bonding of the 4th trimester is a gift that can never be taken from you. When my vivacious toddler falls on the playground and cries for me, I don’t see a 2-year-old little girl. I see my newborn baby I held in my arms. The baby that needed me for absolutely everything from nourishment to sleep.
Did I feel behind after maternity leave? Sure, and to some extent, I will always feel behind in work so long as I have children under my roof. It’s my new normal.
But go into maternity leave knowing there is a season for everything in life. A season to soar at work, a season to grow in your family and a season to nurture yourself. Sometimes the seasons overlap and sometimes, like in maternity leave, they are isolated. Cling to the truth that you are in the season you are meant to be in.
MY MATERNITY LEAVE PLANS
For me, I’m taking a page out Katey’s playbook and have been spending this past month writing content that will go live during my scheduled maternity leave. It will be pre-written and include many of the topics you have been requesting: Pregnancy Safe Skincare, Baby Moon, What I packed For the Hospital, Registry List, etc. I’ll also be adding in some current content and updates as soon as we are settled. This is the first time in almost 7 years that I have totally cleared my calendar of all sponsored projects, campaign meetings and work events. I’m so looking forward to a month where I can completely focus on the family. Hopefully, this makes the transition a bit easier now that I’m not having to send drafts, hop on conference calls or meet deadlines.
I do agree with Diana and the Laura’s though, it’s all trial and error. Ultimately, you have to do what feels best for you and your family. What if I really miss checking in with work? If that’s the case, I will show myself grace and pop in with my team, answer emails, do what I need to do to feel connected. Will I be answering DMs as often as I do now, no. Will I be posting to stories as often? At first, probably not. It’s really going to be up to how I feel.
This transition will be big for our family. And as much as I love my job and connecting with you guys, work will always be there. But these precious newborn moments will not. Thank you for your support and love during this exciting time! I can’t wait to share more as soon as we are settled.
What are your thoughts on maternity leave? Was there anything that worked for you? xx Ashley
Pearl Maxi Dress (Not maternity – I sized up 3 sizes to fit my 8-month bump) | Buxom Lip Liner- Stealth (worn all over) with Beauty Counter Gloss in “Opal – Moonstone” in the center (full lip tutorial here)
Image by Mary Hafner