How to be a ‘Ninja Mum’ and maximise your maternity leave
Productivity is my specialist subject, I’ve spent years researching, experimenting and writing about it . I’ve always been interested in how to make the most of my time and that’s not changed since I’ve become a mum.
Looking after a mini human takes a lot of time and energy, but brings with it a whole world of joy. As well as taking on the new responsibility of motherhood, life still continues and life admin seems to increase! As I am embarking on this journey alone, it is really important to me that I have strategies in place to achieve everything I set out to.
I want to ensure I have quality time with my baby, keep on top of life admin, manage the house work, keep fit, have some time to myself and get out and about socialising. Being able to achieve all these different things takes some planning and juggling, but I’ve found it can be done.
What I have come to understand is that everyone is completely different, so how you want to spend maternity leave will vary hugely between individuals. The important thing is that you enjoy the best maternity leave you can, whatever that looks like for you. You don’t want to look back and regret how you spent your time.
Maximising your maternity leave is relevant for all mums, but it can be even more important to be organised, if like me, you are embarking on the journey on your own as you have no partner to share the load with. My main tips of how to be a ninja mum are:
– Create a maternity leave vision
I had a very clear vision of what my best maternity leave would look like. Before I had my baby, I spent some time considering how I wanted to spend that precious time. I wanted to ensure I didn’t look back and wish I’d done things differently. It goes without saying that my number one priority was to spend as much quality time as I could bonding with my new bundle of joy and that they were developing into a happy, healthy, tiny little person.
What I needed to decide is how to best utilise the 10 months I would have off work whilst ensuring my baby remained my top priority. The reality is much of the early weeks are also spent with baby sleeping, so how would I best use that down time, when we weren’t together.
I have always been a massive fan of vision boards and thought this period was an excellent time to create a new one.
I decided what was important to me during maternity was:
- Spend quality time with baby, bonding, playing, developing and getting to know each other
- Expanding my social network in the local area
- Travelling with baby to see friends
- Getting my fitness back
- Exploring the local area and discovering new sights and places nearby
- Finish my house renovation
None of this takes away from time with baby, it can all be done in parallel. So from the very beginning I knew I could focus my time on what was most important to me and would give me most pleasure. As one of my favourite authors Laura Vanderkam states, as a mum I believe you really can have it all.
– Prioritise what to do whilst baby is sleeping
There are things that you can do whilst your baby is awake and things you might struggle more with. I found that by identifying the things you just can’t seem to get done unless baby is sleeping, I was making the best use of my time.
One of the key things you can do whilst baby is asleep is relax. Maybe have a sleep yourself. Get your ‘me time’ in. This can be a time to have a shower, get dressed and get ready for the day. You can fit some of the other things in with baby in tow or whilst you are wearing them in the sling.
– Multi task
There are so many opportunities to pair up activities . Examples of what I paired:
- Meeting the girls from NCT to socialise with our babies
- Meet up with other mums for a walk with baby in the sling
- Explore my city and places I’d never been, with baby in the sling
- Take baby classes and meet other new mums whilst there
- Reading a book whilst breast feeding (in the day)
I found that all these things meant I was achieving at least two of my goals at once, if not three.
– Get your mum tribe in place
For me it was hugely important to get my support network in place and understand what help I would receive and from who. As someone who has been hugely independent for my entire adult life, I had to adjust to allow in support, especially in the early days.
Having emotional, practical and child care support has been a huge help. I feel incredibly lucky to have the amazing support network I do. It was one of the reasons I felt confident enough to embark on this solo journey as I knew I would not be alone.
You might be reading this and thinking I am totally bonkers and that maternity leave should purely be about spending time with your new baby and everything else is just selfish. For me personally, I felt that I would be the best mum I could be if I combined it with some other goals that were important to me. I fully realise that everyone has different expectations and that’s an individual choice. Everyone’s goals will look completely different.
I’m creating a short course for new mums on how to be a ninja mum and maximise your maternity leave. I’d love to hear your hints and tips of what worked for you or anything you wish you’d done differently. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.