5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Maternity Leave

As a social worker in a busy office, I was used to seeing clients, writing treatment plans, making referrals, and fielding phone calls all day long. I often ate lunch at my desk and had little down time.

But after my son was born and I was on maternity leave, I suddenly found myself in a quiet house with nothing but the rhythms of life with a newborn to occupy my days. As my return to work loomed on the horizon, I remember feeling pressured to make the most of our time together and strengthen our mother/baby bond.

Eventually, I learned how to do just that. Here are five ways I bonded with my baby during maternity leave. I hope they’ll be helpful for you, too!

1. Take it easy… together. You may have heard that life with a newborn is all about survival. While you may be used to a jam-packed schedule at work, take it easy during maternity leave and focus on strengthening your bond. Enjoy those moments of rocking your little one. Savor the little whimpers and sweet coos. Don’t put pressure on yourself to accomplish anything more than caring for your baby.

2. Create daily rituals. One of the best things I did during my maternity leave was to create special rituals with my babies— an afternoon walk, lullabies during late-night feedings, playing favorite music during chore time while my babies sat by the window in the swing. Not only did these rituals provide a daily rhythm, but they gave me things to look forward to and were special times only my baby and I shared.

3. Learn baby massage. I learned how to do baby massage because my son had colic, but I found it to be a great way to bond with all of my children. There’s nothing like the power of touch to soothe and comfort, and it’s beneficial to both mother and child!

4. Keep a journal. Journaling is another great way to bond with your baby. It allows you to express your feelings and record all of the milestones you might otherwise forget. It’ll become a treasured keepsake!

5. Practice baby wearing. I used a sling with my daughter, because as my third child, I needed my hands! It had another benefit, though: It truly strengthened our bond. Because I was able to accomplish more, I didn’t find myself as stressed as I had been with my others and I enjoyed having her so close. She’s still my cuddliest child!

Image: Thinkstock

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