I have no idea what to expect with motherhood and the early days after bringing our baby home.
That being said, I know some things about myself:
- God created me a driven, goal-oriented woman.
- Rest without a little structure does not usually feel good to me.
- I feel much better and much happier when my days have some purpose and direction, when I pursue things that matter—faith, relationships, health . . .
I am the kind of woman who:
- Loosely plans out even my Sabbath days where I choose total unproductivity for the entire day
- Still honors some of my routines on vacation—time with the Lord, working out, taking vitamins, etc.
- Feels gross rather than recharged after a Netflix binge or a day that’s completely lazy
None of this is to say that I’m right and everyone else’s way of life is wrong.
It’s just how I am! Even when I’m sick, I usually put real clothes and makeup on because it helps me feel better and show up for the day with a little bit of intentionality.
I say this gingerly because I know a lot of moms do enjoy lots of Netflix and social media during their maternity leave and feel totally fine hanging out in the same sweatpants for 4 days straight.
If that’s you, you should know I sometimes wish I was like you.
But, I’m just not.
Amy Poehler has a quote I love in these situations that we can all apply to other women who are doing life differently than we are: “Good for her! Not for me.” (Isn’t that good?!)
All this is to say:
I knew that I didn’t want to go into maternity leave with zero plans or goals.
Yes, I want that time to be slow and 98% work-free and very different than usual, but I don’t want it to be 100% unstructured.
I know I will be a crummier wife and mom if I allow myself to do a 180 and fully abandon good habits and disciplines that give my day purpose and help me to spend my time well.
I’m not aiming for a “productive” maternity leave in the sense of getting a bunch of things done, but I am aiming for an intentional maternity leave.
I used to be fearful that life would be 110% out of my control after having a baby and that it’d be a hot mess no matter what I did. A lot of women have given me hope that’s not completely true. (Like my friend Val, who shares such a positive, although honest, approach to motherhood.) I remember reading this post by Emily Ley a while back and thinking, “Wow! There is hope!”
That being said, I am trying my best to walk into this season with minimal expectations . . . not expecting it to be as bad as some people say, and also not expecting it to be easier, either. My experience will be my experience; it will be unique from everyone else’s.
Since, like I said, I don’t know what motherhood has in store for me, I’m sure these goals will change! But here’s my starting point:
- Read Psalm 103 to focus on my word of the year, rejoice
- Do something for someone else | I got that idea from this book—to focus outside myself and focus on others during a stressful time!
- Spend no more than 90 minutes on social media on my phone | I track this with the QualityTime app (Try Moment for iPhone)
- Take at least one photo of baby
- Get out of the house for something other than church or a required doctor’s appointment
- Spend any kind of time with the Lord
- Pray for daily manna. | In other words, pray for enough strength and provision just for that day. Cultivate eyes that see that daily manna and a heart that rejoices in it.
- Do one small productive thing. | Empty the dishwasher, write a couple thank-you notes, fill out a couple sentences in the baby book.
- Change out of my pajamas, even if I’m not showering and just putting on super comfy clothes
- Avoid watching TV during the day. | Our only TV is in our basement family room, so it’s not a huge temptation and already not a huge part of our lifestyle, but this is still a goal I want to set and honor. I want to use time I might spend watching TV to sleep, pray, read, listen to music or a book, call someone, etc. Or to just sit and be present.
Don’t worry, friends; I won’t have my PowerSheets with me at the hospital, checking these things off, being super anal about it. I probably won’t look at this list for at least the first week, but after the intense initial fog has lifted slightly, I plan to keep these simple goals in front of me, adapting them over time as needed.
I hope these ideas inspire and encourage you! I am certainly thankful for the moms who have already mentored me. Christian mamas, you’re welcome to share your wisdom on what worked for you during your maternity leave to help you be intentional! I’d love to hear. :)
Update: I realized I forget to mention something important! I don’t want anyone to read this post and think that I’m holding myself to a standard of perfection on these things every single day and week. Even more so, I would never want another mom to read this, set her own similar goals, and then feel like a failure for not achieving them perfectly! If you check out my monthly goals posts, you’ll see that when I set daily and weekly goals, I also set a number for how often I want to attain them. (For example, I might have a “daily goal” of getting to bed by 10 pm but decide that accomplishing that 15 times in one month would be a success.) Even really meaningful, intentional goals need flexibility, or Satan can start to condemn us when we fall short of perfection. For my maternity leave goals, I haven’t yet set a goal number for each daily + weekly goal. It will certainly not be 100%, though–I can say that for sure! :) I’m far from perfect now and I will be very much imperfect as a mom too! Whatever goal number I set will allow flexibility for God’s plans and for the unpredictability of new motherhood! :) Thanks for allowing me to clarify that, and thanks for all the encouragement and love on this post!
While I’m away on leave, keep up with me on Instagram for occasional real-time updates and pictures of a cute, squishy baby, if you’re into that. :)