The prospect of starting one’s maternity leave feels a bit like whirling round à la Julie Andrews on top of a mountain with a big smile on your face – minus the nun part, obviously. But how do you go about planning your maternity leave before the big day arrives?
1Tie up all the loose ends at work
Especially if you’ve been in your job for some time, leaving your role in the hands of someone else can be a daunting prospect. It helps if you can be as thorough as possible with your handover notes. The processes that come naturally to you could be really confusing to your replacement, so make sure to spell everything out in plain English before you leave.
2Look into your finances
Some employers offer only statutory maternity pay, while others may provide you with enhanced benefits. How much will you receive each week, and will this be enough for your new family? If you’re self-employed, you can apply for a maternity allowance to support you financially during your time off work.
3Consider your return-to-work plan
While you won’t have to provide your employer with a definitive answer about going back to work until much later, it’s useful to have a think about it now. It will help you make decisions about future childcare options, your financial circumstances and how you see your career in the long-term.
4Confirm your partner’s working arrangements
Can your other half leave work at a moment’s notice if you suddenly go into labour? How much time will he get off work after you have the baby? Could he tag on some holiday time to his paternity period? Finding these things out in advance will help you feel much calmer about starting maternity leave.
Hopefully, you’ll have a little time between finishing work and welcoming your new arrival. But, just in case things don’t pan out that way, get as many jobs ticked off your to-do list before you finish work. Get the cot set up, buy a job lot of nappies, figure out how to install the car seat. And if you do get a break before the baby arrives, hello Netflix!
6Sleep. Just sleep.
Nothing, but nothing, can prepare you for the eye-burning reality of sleep deprivation when your first baby comes along. While sleeping more before the birth won’t add any time to your deprivation bank afterwards, just take the chance to grab a lie-in or a cheeky afternoon nap while you still can. Rest is great for both you and the baby.
7Have lots of cuddles with your other kids
If you already have children, make sure you give them all the love you can before you start properly gearing up for the birth. While your kid/s may be excited by the prospect of a brother or sister, there may be some uncertain feelings about a new baby joining the family. So take time to make sure they’re ok and answer any questions they may have.
8Pack your hospital bag
No-one wants to be charging round the house when their waters have broken, chucking nighties and breast pads into a Bag for Life in a panic. Make a list of everything you might need at the hospital and get it ready way before you think you’ll need it. KinBox tip – add some Lucozade to keep your energy levels up in case you can’t face food during labour!
9Buy some formula and bottles
You may have visions of being an earth mother type, with your newborn enjoying the perfect latch and making the most of all that lovely colostrum. However, sometimes new mothers are simply unable to breastfeed for one reason or another, so you could consider buying some formula and bottles just in case there’s an unforeseen issue.
10Spend time with your partner
If this is your first baby, the world as you know it is about to change irrevocably. You and your other half will never be just a couple again, so why not try to make time for each other before your maternity leave starts? Schedule a few date nights – early evening of course, due to your likely inability to stay awake past 8pm!