- Not feeling guilty for all the TV you watch. Okay, sometimes maybe I should feel guilty because it’s gotten a bit out of control but what you can do? Sometimes that’s parenting. I highly recommend checking out Juana Ines (Netflix), American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (Netflix), Hell on Wheels (Netflix, violent – proceed with caution), America Divided (Amazon Prime), The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime), A Chef’s Life (PBS) and obviously, Fixer Upper (Netflix/HGTV). I DO NOT RECOMMEND This is Us. I’ve really enjoyed but you will cry during every episode which is too much for someone who is already chock o’ block full of hormones.
- Going outside whenever you damn well please. Perhaps your job already gets you outside regularly. If so, you are much smarter than me. I have an office job where I have to ask others what the weather is like because I cannot see the outside world. At least on maternity leave, I could take walks when I felt like it. Getting to walk my crazy dog when everyone isn’t also out is also convenient.
- Doing errands while everyone else is at work. There aren’t many perks to running errands with infants. A lot more people open doors for you which is convenient because as a first time parent who carry way too much stuff with you at all times. At the very least though you don’t have to be at Target on Saturday with everyone else. You can go on a Monday at 10 am without having brushed your hair because no one you know is there.
- I was very surprised as to how much reading I was able to do while on maternity leave. The key is e-books. It is extremely difficult to hold an actual book while also holding a baby but you can read a Kindle (or other e-book device) or read on your phone using an app. (Everyone at my book club thinks I’m insane for reading on my phone but it has never bothered me. If you’re stuck in line at the post office or wherever, just pull out your phone and read.) Breastfeeding, especially in the early days, takes forever. You feed, get up to go the bathroom and eat a snack and then it’s basically time to do it again. Once I got the hang of it and didn’t need to concentrate, I was able to read instead. It really helped me stay awake for night feedings as well. Since going on leave I’ve finished Girl in a Band: The Memoir, A Thin Bright Line, Margaret the First: A Novel, The Underground Railroad, and The Rosie Project. Out of these I would only highly recommend The Underground Railroad. The others helped to pass the time but weren’t particularly moving or exciting. I’ve started but haven’t yet finished The Sympathizer and In the Darkroom, both of which have been fascinating thus far. My mother-in-law also gave me a subscription to The Sun Magazine which I keep next to my chair for some good nursing reads.
- I gained a much better sense of what makes me feel like me. When I first came home from the hospital I was in a fog of fatigue and it took me a couple weeks to start to feel human and even a little longer to feel like myself. My husband would come home from work and try to give me time away but I just drove around town aimlessly. Over time and with better planning, I know what I need to feel whole. I need to be able to anticipate my day. I need a plan even if my day doesn’t require it. I have to get outside and feel the sunshine. I have to talk to adults on a regular basis about something other than poopy diapers and childcare woes. I need time to write and think by myself. Add a beer, a snack and the occasional hot bath and I’m good to go. Oh, and this. I need a lot of this.