One one hand, giving up your work and career for 12 months is exciting, and on the other hand it sparks conflicted emotions. Those last few months are some of the best I can remember especially as you are preparing for the arrival of your baby. But for me, they were also some of the hardest as my career was really taking off. I’ve experienced all the emotions.
Looking back, there are so many things I would do differently. Sure, you learn as you experience more pregnancies, but I am really talking about Baby Number One. When you are facing the biggest life-changing event and ‘You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.’
We have spoken to a few parents to get their insight into what they would do differently, and what they wish they were told about:
- Be realistic about your last day of work. Okay, so everyone wants to work as close as they can to their due date so that they have more time on the other side, but be realistic about when you finish up at work. Working to 38 weeks sounds like a good idea and whilst you may feel fine, the travel and last few weeks will really take it out of you. Consider discussing alternatives with your organisation, such as work from home options late in your pregnancy. Or finish a little early and just enjoy a few weeks to yourself.
- Don’t leave everything until the last week. Everyone does it, including us. We cannot stress it enough to start things early and that is why we have pulled together the most comprehensive checklist available. You will feel so much more relaxed knowing everything has been sorted e.g. work handed over, performance review conducted etc. These checklists are great tools to ensure that important tasks are carried out well before you go on parental leave.
- Sort out your home administration. Parental leave is a wonderful opportunity to spend with your little one, but the last thing you will want to do with a newborn is your home admin. It is the perfect time to get your finances sorted and have the discussion with your partner to ensure you’re both comfortable with the amount of leave being taken. Take the time to look into government benefits to see what is available to you and your family and pre-complete as much information as you can.
- If you have a home loan, consider changing to ‘interest only’ during your parental leave to assist with cash flow. Many financial institutions offer this during parental leave and it can assist greatly. Obviously, talk to your financial advisor to ensure such changes align with your personal financial position.
- Learn about postnatal depression. It is real and most think it won’t happen to them. Read about it, speak to friends and know what to look out for. Also make sure your partner or close friends can recognise the signs and be there to support you. Visit the Gidget Foundation if you would like to learn more.
- Set up your calendar invites. Honestly ‘baby brain’ continues for some time, so get organised and put in place calendar invites to remind you of appointments, planned events, catch ups with your team, sponsors and mentors etc. Things may change, but having dates in place forces you to keep in touch, even if it means you have to reschedule. It may also give you something to look forward to as you come out of the ‘baby haze’.
- Unsubscribe and subscribe. Spend time unsubscribing from the newsletters and mail you receive at your work address. Re-set them up to your home email or address. You will be thankful for receiving a few work-related newsletters here and there to keep your brain active.
- Work out if you feel guilty or not. It’s okay to feel guilty or equally not guilty about finishing up at work. Some people feel a great sense of relief whilst others may feel worried about losing their identity and daily work structure. Whatever the feeling, embrace it knowing you have an amazing adventure ahead of you.
- Stock the freezer. Once your baby arrives, cooking will be the last thing on your mind. Even getting takeaway might feel too hard. If you get some spare time, stockpile your freezer with easy, nutritious meals. Think soups, quiches, lasagne or whatever your favourites are. Even a few slices that you can freeze and pull out when visitors pop by to meet your gorgeous new arrival.
- Those few weeks before the baby arrives are precious. Enjoy them. Don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself and write a list of all the things you want to do. Movies, massage, IKEA, hairdressers, pedicure, wax or just watch Netflix all day in your PJs. Whatever it is, enjoy it.
If only we had this list first time around…
Written by the team at Circle In
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