How do I occupy myself on maternity leave?
This is a common question asked by first-time moms who are a little unsure of what to do in the days leading up to birth, and I know it’s something I asked myself in those precious months after my baby was born.
Everyone’s exact maternity leave schedule and activities will vary depending on their individual needs and circumstances.
Having said that, it can be helpful to look at what both myself and other moms consider to be the most essential and most fun things to do over this period, in order to help you plan and give you inspiration.
So let’s take a look at 15 ideas of things to do on maternity leave, including both before your baby arrives and once you’ve welcomed them into the world.
Table of Contents
- 15 Things To Do During Maternity Leave
- 1. Get Some Rest
- 2. Assemble Their Bassinet & Other Essentials
- 3. Think About Essential Baby Gear
- 4. Spend Time With Your Partner
- 5. Leave Work At Work
- 6. Read Up On Parenting Advice & Best Practice
- 7. Schedule In Time For You
- 8. Speak With Your Insurance Provider
- 9. Spend Time With Friends & Family
- 10. Make New Mom Friends
- 11. Start Your Baby Milestone Book
- 12. Start Filling Your Memory Box
- 13. Take Time To Exercise
- 14. Go Swimming With Your Baby
- 15. Look Into Daycare Options
15 Things To Do During Maternity Leave
1. Get Some Rest
It can be tempting to want to be super productive in the build up to your baby’s birth, but this can often be a mistake if overdone.
So before your little one is born, make sure you get enough rest and sleep as you need – think of it as getting your batteries charged before they start wearing down once your baby is born and the nightly wake ups begin!
It can often be helpful to listen to your body in this regard – if you’re feeling overly tired during the latter stages of your pregnancy, then it’s a sign to take things easier.
2. Assemble Their Bassinet & Other Essentials
Whatever your baby is going to sleep in – crib or bassinet – make sure you assemble this well before your due date.
If your baby makes an unexpected arrival two or three weeks’ early, which is what happened when my daughter was born, then you’ll be glad you did!
It’s also worth thinking about how you are going to darken their room to ensure their sleeping environment is optimized, perhaps by installing some high quality blackout blinds.
5-Piece Set Blackout Shades/Blinds for Windows ($19.99, Amazon)
3. Think About Essential Baby Gear
Now is also the time to research and buy those other essential items you’ll need from birth too.
Some important ones you might want to think about include:
4. Spend Time With Your Partner
When your baby arrives, you and your partner’s lives will never be quite the same again and being able to spend quality time together as a couple will be in short supply.
So one great way to enjoy your maternity leave it to make the most of the time before your baby is born and spend some quality time together.
5. Leave Work At Work
Another important thing to do during maternity leave is to ensure that when you step away from work, it really is a proper, uninterrupted break.
If this isn’t possible for whatever reason, it’s a good idea to communicate with your employer in advance about what is and isn’t expected or acceptable.
The ideal scenario is one where you both know where you stand, and that way you won’t have to feel guilty or stressed wondering if you should be checking in with work or browsing your emails from time to time.
6. Read Up On Parenting Advice & Best Practice
When your baby arrives it’s fair to say there won’t be much time for reading books or articles about parenting (Rockinbaby.com aside of course)!
One of the best things to do on maternity leave is to therefore educate yourself on those important things you’ll need to know about.
7. Schedule In Time For You
Once your baby is born you’ll be in the tiring newborn phase, and during this period it’s also vitally important to schedule in some self care, particularly as because a little relaxation will go a long way to helping you survive the newborn phase.
8. Speak With Your Insurance Provider
A boring but important one.
Once your child is born it’s a good idea to speak with your insurance company so they can include them in your policy.
9. Spend Time With Friends & Family
Once your son or daughter is born there’s probably going to be no shortage of people who will be dying to meet them.
Take this opportunity to not only share your precious bundle with your nearest and dearest, but as a chance to also connect and spend quality time with your best friends and closes family members.
If you’ve got good friends or relatives who live a long distance away, then this could also be the perfect opportunity to pay them a visit as well.
10. Make New Mom Friends
New moms are on a pretty unusual and limiting schedule compared to everyone else, which can make it hard to spend time with your existing friendship group.
I personally found it invaluable to have a some like-minded mothers with whom I can share how I’m feeling and get advice on any areas I was struggling with, and I’m willing to bet you’d be no different.
So whether it’s a formal mothers group or just a few other parents you’ve met from playground or one of your child’s weekly classes, make the most of your maternity leave and make some new connections.
You never know, you might find yourself making some new friends for life!
11. Start Your Baby Milestone Book
Want to be able to capture all those amazing those amazing moments during your child’s first few years but not sure how to do it?
That’s where a baby milestone book comes in handy.
These are a great place to record things like the first time your baby rolled over, first words, their first birthday and holiday, and much more!
Keepsake Baby Memory Book for Baby Boy or Girl ($29.95, Amazon)
12. Start Filling Your Memory Box
If you want to go one step further then you might want to buy and start filling up a memory box for your child.
Many parents love the idea of a memory box because they enable you to store sentimental item’s relating to your baby and their childhood.
Popular examples of what to put in your child’s memory box include their ultrasound photo, hospital wrist band, a lock of hair, their favorite toy and of course the milestone book mentioned above.
But the possibilities are endless, you in reality you can put whatever you like in there provided it fits!
We love the example below because the design can be personalized to include your baby’s name and their birth detail, making it even more special.
13. Take Time To Exercise
It can be easy to fall into the trap of spending every second of your day looking after your baby and the rest of your family.
But keep in mind that a great thing to do on maternity leave is to build in some time every week to get some exercise in.
According to experts, after having a baby you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.
That might sound like a lot, but if you divide the total into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute sessions throughout each day, it becomes much more achievable.
Exercise can help help strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, boost energy, may help prevent postpartum depression, promotes better sleep, relieves stress and can help you lose the extra weight that you may have gained during pregnancy.
With so many benefits it’s definitely something worth building into your maternity leave schedule if you can.
14. Go Swimming With Your Baby
You might be surprized to learn that babies can go swimming from as early as the age of two months, and it’s an activity that most infants really enjoy.
For that reason many moms (and dads for that matter) highly recommend signing your baby up for some swimming classes within the first few months of birth.
Not only is swimming a great way to meet other moms and get in some exercise (see ideas 10 and 13 above), but it’s also a lovely way to bond with your baby.
My husband and I both took our daughter swimming in the first few years of her life, and we both loved it, as I know she did too!
15. Look Into Daycare Options
Depending on the length of your maternity leave, the need to return to work or your financial situation, so might be sending your child to daycare sooner rather than later.
So use any spare time you might have now to research daycare options with the hope of finding somewhere with small groups of children and child-staff ratios, low staff turnover and good recommendations, as these are three key indicators of a high-quality daycare center.
How you spend your maternity leave is a personal choice, so don’t feel like you are under pressure to do anything you don’t want just because it’s the done thing.
Typically maternity leave activities can be classified into two categories: before and after your baby is born.
In the build up to birth you might want to focus your efforts on resting, preparing for birth and getting everything in place, and spending some quality time with your partner.
Once your little one is born, the most important thing is to enjoy spending time with your baby and bonding with them, and to ensure you make the most of this special time before you head back to work or focus more of your time on any other activities.