Five Ways Working Moms Can Make The Most Of Maternity Leave
You might not get as much time as you want away from work after having a baby, but here's how to make the most of it.
The average length of maternity leave in the United States is 10 weeks. Despite the joys of new motherhood, it’s also a difficult transition. Returning to work can be even more challenging. Here are five simple ways to set yourself up for success:
1. Prioritize Bonding
The Australian Raising Children Network explains that, "Bonding helps your baby grow mentally and physically. Repeated human contact, like touching, cuddling, talking, singing, and gazing into each other's eyes, releases hormones … (that) help your baby's brain to grow.”
While it’s unrealistic to never be apart from your baby, when you’re together, try to be as present as possible. “A strong bond will withstand hours away from your baby while at work.”
2. Take Time for Yourself
It is easy to become so hyper-focused on caring for the baby that your needs get lost. Finding out what rejuvenates you while still on maternity leave will help you be “more available for the demands of your life as a working mom."
3. Set Clear Boundaries with Work
It is important to decide on the boundaries you want in place before going on maternity leave. These can include not working during maternity leave, leaving work at the office, or if you work from home - planning meetings and projects around baby's nap schedule.
4. Consider your future plans
Plans and priorities are bound to change after becoming a mother. While still on maternity leave, here’s a great exercise to help you think through ways work can adapt to your new lifestyle:
"List out all you have to consider, and even the decisions you'll have to make related to returning to work and working in an office. Next, write out your ideal scenarios related to childcare, your commute, work attire, pumping in the office, flex days, work remote hours, and even your communications with your colleagues and employer. Then, go through this exercise to clarify what's best for you."
5. Ask for Help
"Every mom benefits from emotional and physical help when caring for a newborn”.
You're not a failure if you need help. Asking a family member to watch the baby so you can rest, reaching out to your doctor/therapist, or joining a moms group for support is normal and essential. Without a support system, moms are more likely to experience postpartum depression and anxiety.