Hello and welcome to the list of the only seven things I screwed up while getting ready to stay home with baby. Ha. Clearly you’re here for the maternity leave goods, so let’s get right to it…
Let’s check out some more of the top things I could have done to dial down the work- and baby-related stress in the final months before baby!
Did you miss rounds 1 and 2 of this maternity leave fun? Check them out here and here.
1. Look for childcare sooner (and have a backup)
If you plan to go back to work after baby, finding an amazing childcare provider will make a tremendous difference. I started calling around during the last few months of my pregnancy. When I called one national chain in our area, there weren’t any infant slots available for the next year. Also, be ready for sticker shock.
I only found a few options from Google searches. Find a great parent or mom community, whether hosted on Facebook or on its own, and you will likely find a discussion thread or ten about childcare programs (and other options) in your area.
INSIDE TIP: For the Washington, DC, area, I found so much useful information and childcare leads in the DC Urban Mom Forum. I found excellent part-time nanny shares after both baby 1 and baby 2 by talking with other moms in groups similar to this.
If you know that you are pregnant, and you haven’t gotten on a waiting list, then you’re already late. I’m not trying to stress you out, but that is the reality. Second-time moms have already made the calls and gotten on the lists, so do what you can to add this task to your to-do list. Oh, and – as much as you can – have a backup plan, not just for when baby is sick, but also if things just don’t work out with first childcare arrangement.
2. Cross off to-do lists at home sooner
I made some serious lists at work and got those crossed off months before leaving for maternity leave. But, I didn’t ever seem to catch up to the end of the list at home.
I left work on maternity leave a week before my first daughter’s birth, but if she had shown up earlier, there are a number of tasks that just wouldn’t have gotten done! If you are able, try to only leave “nice-to-have” not “necessary” things on your to-do list as your pregnancy winds down. And, if you have any big projects that you’d like to do before your baby arrives, try to give yourself a long lead time to get that done!
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3. Have a contingency plan
I never had a very good contingency plan during my pregnancy. I didn’t want to “jinx” myself by thinking about the bad stuff, and so I just didn’t make much of a plan.
Luckily, I had two mostly healthy pregnancies and deliveries. But, other than having my work-life in order, I didn’t have much of a plan at home. If I had this to do over again, I’d have set up a
Maybe if I’d thought of preparing in advance this way, then I wouldn’t have felt like I was jinxing myself!
4. Not exercising
With a 20 hour a week part time job and part time childcare (only during hours I was working), I did not exercise nearly as much leading up to my first maternity leave. Early on post-partum, it was hard to bring baby to the organized pilates class that I had taken pre-baby. Baby and I went for walks but i had a much more uncomfortable time with my second pregnancy and I just didnt have a solution for it.
I should have done the darn prenatal pilates videos that i had bought (and eventually sold a year later for almost nothing on a mommy Facebook group.) While I recovered mostly from the childbirth quickly, it had been so long since I exercised regularly, exercise didn’t make it back into the rotation quickly.
At six months, I finally started going to a gym, but the childcare providers were always changing and I didn’t feel like there was enough separation between the big and little kids. Basically, I should have visited more gyms with the baby and checked out the childcare options, even if they were more expensive, or found some more baby-and-toddler-friendly options.
I’ve had to really work hard for the past year to make up for how out of shape that I got in those three years after baby! (I did find a gym with classes that I enjoy and a smaller childcare room that is well-staffed and calmer.)
Here’s one helpful article on finding a baby-friendly gym that may help you avoid my exercise fails! And, there are more organized baby-friendly exercise opportunities available every year. I’ve been hearing about this exercise program a lot, although it never fit in my family’s schedule.
Have you found a gym with amazing childcare in your area? Review it on Yelp, Google or your local Moms Facebook group! Have you found a great outside-of-the-gym option? Share it in the comments below! Pay it forward, and help the next mom reader out!
5. Avoid moving
We put an offer in on a house when I was four months pregnant, not moving from our apartment to the single family home until three months later. This period was tremendously stressful, and we (I!) felt very rushed to make the move from our two bedroom apartment (only a short 15 minute commute to work for my husband.) In hindsight, I think we could have figured out how to make the smaller apartment work for our growing family, and we could have taken our time to make the move after the baby was born.
6. … and other big life decisions
In the weeks leading up to our offer going in on the house, my father-in-law passed away suddenly. So, not only were we preparing for baby #2, we were all still reeling from his death. In hindsight, yet again, perhaps we could have taken a breath and put our moving plans on the back burner for a bit. We’re happy in our home, but we could have waited to make a more rational – and less emotional – decision!
7. Saved more money
I could have saved a bit more money leading up to my maternity leave. Saving money while working (and needing to pay for childcare or preschool) is challenging, and I felt like I did a pretty good job, but it would have been great to have a bit more money set aside.
It’s an exciting time! Where are you at in your pregnancy journey and career- and baby-planning? What are your biggest concerns on the work front?