Nearing the end of your pregnancy can give you a lot of mixed emotions.
You’re excited about your baby’s arrival, nervous about becoming a parent, happy/sad your pregnancy will be over soon, or worried you’ve forgotten to do something important (stupid baby brain!)
However you’re feeling, you have that maternity leave to look forward to!
The thought of all that time off from work, being able to do what you want, not having to set that alarm, and being carefree.
Maternity leave is a funny time, all of a sudden, you don’t actually have to be anywhere and answer to anyone.
Throw in a brand new baby who is completely reliant on you and it can feel a little crazy!
Some people love that and others need routine.
For me, with my first baby, I couldn’t wait to start maternity leave. I also couldn’t wait to have a little me-time before the baby arrived. So I started mine a few weeks before he was due.
Looking back, I don’t think I embraced maternity leave at all, so now I’m pregnant with my second baby, I’m preparing myself to make the most of it.
I’ve put together a maternity leave bucket list that I thought sounded fun and wanted to share with other parents to be!
Things To Do On Maternity Leave Before Baby Arrives
Most of us can choose when to go onto maternity leave, and as long as there are no unexpected early arrivals, you may have a bit of time to yourself before the baby comes, so here are a few ideas on what to do before the baby arrives.
1. Take Photos Of Bump
This is an important one on the list!
I have 1 picture of my baby bump the first time around, and I regret not taking more. So get your phone out and take lots of pictures.
If you’re someone who doesn’t like having photos taken just take one of the bump!
I’ve seen lots of lovely pictures of people having their bumps painted or getting pretty henna tattooed onto them. It’s such a precious memory to treasure.
2. Watch TV
Watching TV might not seem like a crazy thing to tick off on your bucket list but believe me when the baby arrives, you’ll miss the days you can finish a series in one sitting.
As time goes on and you get into more of a routine you’ll be able to catch up on your favorite boxsets.
When you go onto maternity leave, why not have a few relaxing days watching some trashy tv? It’s a simple yet enjoyable thing to do to keep you happy and relaxed.
3. Spend Time With Family
Spending time with family is always my favorite thing to do.
I love nothing more than a family bbq or visiting their houses for a catch-up.
No doubt when the baby comes, they’ll all want to be coming to you for a little cuddle, so why don’t you take your newfound freedom of maternity leave and get out and meet your friends and family.
It’ll be nice to get out of the house, stay social, and be with people you’re comfortable with in case you need to politely leave to go for a nap!
As this is my second baby, I’m also taking into account that my son is suddenly not going to be my only focus, so I’m consciously spending more time with him and appreciating the time we have just us before our family becomes a family of 4.
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4. Prepare For Baby’s Arrival
It’s always better to be prepared for such a big change in your life.
So going on maternity leave a bit earlier can give you time to do this.
Here’s a little list of things you can prepare for in advance:
- The hospital bag
- Working out how the hell you put the pushchair up and down
- Practicing how to use a sling
- Fitting the car seat into the car….or how you strap the baby in!
- Stocking up on household supplies as you may not be able to get to the shops
- Working out how to use the sterilizer
Batch cooking and freezing meals is a great way to prepare as it saves you wasting loads of money on takeaways when you can’t really be bothered to cook a healthy meal, especially if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need to keep your healthy lifestyle up even when the babies made its grand entrance.
I found that I had a lot of helpful people around me that brought meals over when I brought my son home from the hospital, so try and keep some space free in the freezer just in case.
6. Build Furniture
I loved painting my baby’s room when I was pregnant the first time around and found it so exciting to build his cot and get the furniture ready in his room.
Obviously going on maternity leave you’re going to be heavily pregnant, so make sure you don’t overdo it, and you have a helping hand!
Everyone goes through the nesting phase, you want everything to be perfect for when the baby arrives.
In reality, nothing is going to be PERFECT but you can give it a good go!
Decluttering the house can make you feel satisfied and making sure everything has its place.
Also, putting the baby’s clothes into drawers and wardrobes will really make everything less stressful for the future.
This is pretty self-explanatory but being heavily pregnant is the perfect excuse to do absolutely nothing!
When do you ever get that opportunity?
Embrace it and enjoy the time by putting on some comfy clothes, putting your feet up, and taking in the peace and quiet.
This will only apply to you if this isn’t your first pregnancy but make sure you have fixed childcare covered for when the big moment happens.
Obviously, children won’t be allowed to come to the hospital with you, so make sure you have fixed childcare that you can rely on any day or night as there’s no predicting when it’ll happen!
Things To Do On Maternity Leave After The Baby Arrives
10. Embrace The New Routine
No doubt having a newborn will shake things up massively, but as long as you’re prepared, then it hopefully won’t cause too much stress.
It may be hard to get used to, but you’ll soon settle into a routine, and when you’re into the swing of things having a set routine will really benefit you and the baby.
Enjoy the craziness of the first few weeks, it won’t last forever, and these are precious times for you and your baby to bond.
If you’re anything like me you’ll try and run before you can walk!
This shouldn’t be the case when you’ve just pushed another human being out of you, and there is absolutely no pressure for you to get out and start doing things straight away.
Ensure you give yourself enough time to recover as it could do more harm than good and won’t benefit you or the baby.
Another thing I didn’t do when I had my son was get some professional pictures done.
There are loads of different types of shoots you can have done to fit your style and taste.
There’s nothing cuter than a tiny scrunched-up baby photoshoot.
It’s a memory to keep forever cause they don’t stay that tiny for long, and if you’re not someone who takes a lot of photos, it’s a great way to capture that moment forever.
13. Baby Book
A baby book is a brilliant way to record memories of the first time your baby does….anything!
You can add pictures, hospital tags and record funny things your baby has done.
You can buy books that have sections you can fill out, or if you’re really creative, you can make your own scrapbook. You can record birthing stories, birthdays, favorite toys, and tv shows…..pretty much anything you can think of you can write it down and look back on.
Another great idea is buying a line a day diary/5-year diary that you can start from babes birthday.
This will be a great gift for them when they are older and they can look back on their first 5 years!
14. Go For Walks
When I had my son I didn’t drive so I literally walked everywhere I could with him.
I loved grabbing the pushchair and going for an adventure.
It does everyone the world of good getting into nature, getting some sunlight, and having a sense of calm whilst you go for a stroll.
15. Make Memories
Obviously, making memories could be in the form of taking lots of pictures, making your baby book, or a photobook.
But another way you can make memories is by making a blog to document your baby’s life and share your stories with other new parents.
You never know it could be exactly what you need when you’re not working and need something to do with your time.
Some other mums who are struggling might benefit from hearing your parenting tales!
16. Have A Night Off
Having a night off is so important when you’re a parent.
When I first had my son, I felt guilty about doing anything other than being there for him, but if you don’t have that time to yourself, you can get run down, stressed, and not having that break can be bad for your mental health.
You can go on a date night with your partner or a night out with the girls.
Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty, go have fun and let your hair down!
17. Mum Meet up
Even if you’re not the type of person who wants to have mum friends, I think there’s always another mum who feels the same.
Having a mum friend is always handy as she can be your shoulder to cry on, a listening ear when you need it, and someone to laugh with.
Plus your baby will have a little playmate to go on fun days out.
I’m not saying your babyless friends won’t be a helping hand but once you step into the mother role friendships can shift.
Sometimes your childless friends don’t want to hear about what new thing the baby did that day or how they’re not eating enough etc.
Having that ally will be a great asset to your life and you may become life long friends.
18. Lazy Days
Lazy days are sooooo important!
When you start maternity leave, it can feel like a countdown timer to when you go back to work sometimes, and you may feel like you need to make everyday count!
Sometimes it’s nice to switch off for the day. You won’t have this opportunity forever and it’s important to enjoy even the little things with your baby.
It’ll be nice to spend a day together enjoying every moment and cuddle.
You’ll miss those cuddles when you’re back to work……or when they get older and really don’t want a hug from their embarrassing mum (sigh!)
Whilst I write this I’m 5 months pregnant and missing going for a run.
I NEVER thought I’d say this in a million years but before I became pregnant I was running a few times a week and feeling great.
I calmed it down when I became pregnant as I have had pregnancy problems in the past so wanted to be careful.
When you’ve had a baby sometimes you can feel a bit sad about how your body looks so to stop yourself falling into low self-esteem get out there and get moving.
You don’t need to get into a certain sport, it’s just nice to get out and you’ll instantly feel better about yourself.
Even taking the baby for a walk is a form of exercise, so stick those trainers on and move that post-pregnancy body.
20. Treat Yourself
Being a mum is hard work and you don’t truly realize it until you are one!
So whilst you have time, make sure you treat yourself for doing the most rewarding but tiring job on earth!
Getting your hair or nails done can be a nice treat and can be a small thing to make you feel a million dollars. Or going out and buying a new dress for your planned date night!
Anything small that brings a smile to your face is treating yourself and can make a big difference!
21. Getting Back To Work
So that time will eventually come for you to get back to work.
This can feel so daunting and you may worry how you can possibly leave your baby with someone other than yourself.
Millions of mums have had to go through the same thing so remember to talk about it with friends and family that will understand.
Make sure you’re leaving your baby with someone who you can trust and who is reliable so you can focus on your work life as well.
If you’re breastfeeding, make sure you have prepared for you not being there physically, so the baby is used to it, and it’ll put your mind at ease.
Remember leaving your baby is hard and make sure you’re able to speak up to the person/ people taking care of your baby.
Don’t be afraid to say how you feel as if you’re not expressing your wants it’ll just make you anxious and stressed.
Go back to work happy, relaxed and confident.
I hope you enjoy your maternity leave and you’re not too hard on yourself if it doesn’t go perfectly.
Having a baby teaches you that things don’t always go to plan so use this time to appreciate all this time you have together.
Don’t be too hard on yourself and go have some fun!
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