Diana Kerr »

My intentional maternity leave goals

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:

  1. God created me a driven, goal-oriented woman.
  2. Rest without a little structure does not usually feel good to me.
  3. 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:

Photo credit: Laurelyn Savannah Photography

Weekly goals:

  1. Read Psalm 103 to focus on my word of the year, rejoice
  2. Do something for someone else | I got that idea from this book—to focus outside myself and focus on others during a stressful time!
  3. Spend no more than 90 minutes on social media on my phone | I track this with the QualityTime app (Try Moment for iPhone)
  4. Take at least one photo of baby
  5. Get out of the house for something other than church or a required doctor’s appointment

Daily goals:

  1. Spend any kind of time with the Lord
  2. 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.
  3. Do one small productive thing. | Empty the dishwasher, write a couple thank-you notes, fill out a couple sentences in the baby book.
  4. Change out of my pajamas, even if I’m not showering and just putting on super comfy clothes
  5. 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. :)

Speaking of babies, how about this very squishy baby pic of my hubby? Hahaha.


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  • February 25, 2017 - 7:55 am

    Geneva - Oh dear heavens child, this ain’t the time for organization and goal sheets! Whew wee! Bun in your oven will teach ya that tho.
    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2017 - 3:43 pm

    Donna - When I had my first baby (seems like 100 years ago now, but not really quite that long), I wrote lists of things to do – just so I could cross something off. On it were the lofty goals like get up, brush teeth, shower, get dressed (and no, not all of them got crossed off every day!) I also had “feed baby” and “change diaper” on the list about 8 times every day. Some days only the get up, feed baby and change diaper were crossed off my list when my wonderful husband walked through the door and he was proud of me for managing to accomplish the very most important things that day – taking care of our daughter.
    It sounds like you are in the perfect frame of mind for starting this adventure – have minimal goals, but keep them in an open hand. Praying for you as you begin this wonderful new phase.ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2017 - 12:27 pm

    Emily - The thing is, Diana, you have no idea what kind of baby you are going to get. One mother is not more organized than another necessarily. Maybe 2 mothers sat down, they set the same goals outlined here and they have high hopes for being intentional about their maternity leave. (I did! I laugh now…. looking back, the adage applied big time: You plan and God laughs). I got a blessing that DID NOT SLEEP consistently until almost 18 months of age. My child was awake anywhere from 2-6 times a night. This ravages your productivity and intentional goal setting for the next day. Your first few weeks, your goal sheet should be more like: goals- get a shower today. make sure I have actually ate a meal today. PERIOD. Don’t expect to do much else in the first few weeks, its survival for a new mom. Veteran moms, sure… they can set goals. They’ve been around this block more than once and know what is going to happen. They know they can ignore the baby when he cries at certain times and they know they can stretch that diaper another half hour. New moms have NO idea, no clue how to take care of this squealy, non-sleeping, little thing. You are dealing with a little person who has NO routine established…and who follows no rules except their own. You have to teach them how to sleep, get into an eating routine, a bath routine, a bedtime routine, etc. This will not happen overnight. Thats amazing that some random woman out there made a blog post and SHE felt like she met her “goals” during leave – good for her! But for your own sanity, and to really and truly SOAK UP this blessing and very very limited season you are in – I would eliminate the goals altogether. Even OCDers should take it down a LOT. I remember worrying about my house being clean when people came over to see the baby… .and worrying about silly nonsense… and running on zero sleep…and having a baby who had colick and had reflux which made her spit up her ENTIRE bottle and choke on it randomly. I had to let go. And it was soooo good for me! Here is a good goal mantra for your maternity leave: Let go and let God!

    I say this all with your best intentions in mind! Don’t look back at your maternity leave and find you didn’t truly enjoy this fleeting season because you were worried about timing your social media to exactly 90 minutes (don’t worry, if you are being an attentive mommy you wont have 90 minute for social media because when that baby is sleeping YOU will need to sleep, or shower, or change your clothes, or eat…even if its at 3pm in the afternoon).

    Throw out the expectations! Forget what other bloggers are doing. Good for that lady. It doesn’t mean you’ll get the same child she has (some people get babies who are naturally great sleepers from day 1 which is probably her case. Those women tend to have very high expectations for others and don’t “get it” when other moms cant be superwoman — hello, mine doesnt SLEEP. Sleep is an important attribute to being superwoman!) Let go, and let God! Put that out of office message up and ENJOY THIS TIME. You will never, ever get it back. If you don’t change out of your pajamas for 2 days — who cares! Love on that baby all you can. There will be plenty of time for real-people clothes later because leave goes QUICK.



    • February 17, 2017 - 12:43 pm

      Emily - Diana – I re-read my message (which I typed quick and passionately) and I hope you realize this is said out of LOVE. And, a little bit of frustration but just towards those women out there who act as if it can all be done… maybe the blogger you mentioned! Like I said, I felt judged by a lot of women like that for my child’s first year. They got it all done and then had the dozen brownies baked too. They just didnt understand why some women are zombies, or rather mombies. When I talked to them I ALWAYS discovered they had no issues with sleep or very limited issues. I just want to make sure you dont feel like I did! Like YOU are the issue. Women can be very catty and judgemental. Nobody is going to have YOUR exact baby or your exact situation. So dont hold yourself up to anyone elses standards (or even your own pre-baby standards, for that matter!). Your pre-baby self has no idea the wave that is about to wash over her. You are about to partake on the most amazing, rewarding and wonderful – yet most difficult thing you will ever do.
      Go easy on yourself!

      Love, EmReplyCancel

      • February 17, 2017 - 3:20 pm

        Diana Kerr - Thanks for commenting! If you check out my other goals posts, you’ll see that thankfully I never aim for 100% on my weekly + daily goals–I don’t believe in holding myself to impossible standards. It will be the same for these maternity leave goals! I certainly won’t despair if I don’t meet them perfectly.

        However, it’s always been a huge blessing to me to have goals as guidelines; they help me live my life focused on what matters, since this life is a gift from God that does not belong to me.

        The goals I’ve set are not about holding myself to a standard or impressing anyone else (Thankfully, God has freed me quite a bit from caring what people think about me or my house, etc.), but about living intentionally and focusing on my Lord, my baby, myself, and my hubby during this time. If I find that these goals detract from my ability to do that, I will change them. Like I said, they’re not set in stone. God has certainly taught me how to be flexible and that HE is the one in control as I’ve battled rheumatoid arthritis for a decade and had to loosen my grip on my own plans and intentions. :)

        I do sincerely appreciate your thoughts! Thanks for clarifying that you are speaking in love and not out of judgment. Like you said, women can be catty and judgmental! I hope we can all encourage each other even when motherhood looks different from one woman to the next.ReplyCancel

  • February 15, 2017 - 3:15 am

    Candace - So on putting on a bit of make up every day – I spent my entire 20s never bothering with make up much at all but with my most recent birthday I spent my gift money on some better quality mineral make up but doesn’t make my super sensitive skin feel like bleh. And then I told myself I would try to put on some every day or the very least we bit of concealer to cover up those natural dark circles under my eyes. I am blown. away. at how much of a difference it makes on my impression of my day. But then I got all introspective and started wondering have a just been waiting all this time to look nice to feel happy about my day (which is not so good place to start) or is this a legitimate good that I’m pursuing? Anyways a lot of days I don’t take the time to self-sabotage, haha, so I put the make up on anyways. Why do you think it is that that helps so much?
    Also I’m totally realizing I need someone to teach me how to do eyes! #latebloomerReplyCancel

    • February 15, 2017 - 12:57 pm

      Diana Kerr - Candace, I’m so with you! I will probably put a bit of makeup on most days because it does make me feel better, but I also struggle with that thought of “Shouldn’t I feel just as good without this–without having to enhance my appearance?” Actually, the girl who does my nails is treating me to those semi-permanent fake eyelashes you can get put on that last for a few weeks as my baby gift because she said, “I want you to feel good as a new mom!” I thought that was really thoughtful of her and a creative gift idea, and it honestly will make a difference I’m sure if my eyelashes look decent when I’m in the midst of total exhaustion. haha Truth be told, I battle these uncertain thoughts every single time I get my hair highlighted too. haha It has got to be one of those gray-area issues that really is more about heart and motive than the activity itself. :)

      As far as eyes, I just do eyeliner and mascara… the eye shadow comes out MAYBE about once a month… so I probably wouldn’t be much help there. ;) haha But if you have any magical concealer you use that works really well, I’m all ears. :)ReplyCancel

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