Family

What do you do on maternity leave?

A few years ago when I had my daughter I was able to take a four month maternity leave, the maximum allowed leave for my state. It was glorious, exhausting, and much needed quality time, not only with my newborn, but with both my kids.

A lot of people asked me, “What did you do? Didn’t you get bored?” I contemplated my maternity leave “expidition” for a few months. Enter the maternity bucket list- a loose list of accomplishments I’d set out to achieve over the four month entirety.

41 countries rank higher than the US in the paid maternity leave department. Estonia rocks the charts with residents receiving 87 weeks of paid maternity leave- that’s over a year-and-a-half of paid leave!

”The U.S. is the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The smallest amount of paid leave required in any of the other 40 nations is about two months.”-pewresearch.org

Since I set out to fund my leave almost entirely (my work and short term medical leave covered roughly 6 weeks of my time), it was important to me that I had a handle on how I spent my time.

My bucket list was a compilation of activities that I had a hard time getting to as a working mom along with activities that would stimulate my new baby and my toddler, but with additional bonus time for me. I also added some mom things that were otherwise hard to pull-off while I was working (i.e. making a Valentine treat bag for my son’s entire toddler class and bringing homemade treats to class parties).

I made lunch and coffee dates with friends about two days a week. I joined a gym when my infant was six weeks old and exercised every day at the same time for an hour (the childcare was amazing and they rocked my baby for the full hour while I worked my booty off losing all my baby weight). I went to the library and checked out kids’ books and read them out loud to my baby at home. The variety of books kept me engaged and I’d always heard talking to your baby had encouraging benefits. It was also glorious not rushing out of the house on the days I kept my oldest home from school. On these days I scheduled lounge days and made a point to stay put inside. I have fond memories of my time off- it was such a sweet time that I’ll never get back. I really enjoyed those four months and I had no regrets about missing out on something I would’ve wanted to accomplish because I had my list! I’m always encouraging moms that can afford it to take their full leave time!

Here’s a rough outline of my bucket list. Obviously, we accomplished some of these things after my postpartum medical time, because a few list items require more activity than others.

How did you spend your maternity leave? Did you make a list?

~Ashley

  • Go to the Zoo
  • Start a baby book for my daughter
  • Go to the Library (I read a LOT of books to my infant over maternity leave)
  • Join and go to the gym (free childcare)
  • Organize closets in the house
  • Meet friends for lunch and coffee
  • Join a mom’s group
  • Read
  • Organize my toddler’s artwork
  • Use Panera order ahead
  • Visit the best coffee shops in the city
  • Learn how to make a new dish
  • Get the kids passports
  • Make homeless care packages
  • Stock the freezer with premade meals to utilize when I return to work
  • Stock up on breast milk
  • Make Valentine treat bags
  • Take lots of walks around the city
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