20 Essential Things to Do on Maternity Leave

20 Essential Things to Do on Maternity Leave

So, we’ve covered everything you need to do to prepare for maternity leave, but what about things to do on maternity leave?

You know, outside of adjusting your body and mind to your new role as a mama.

Yes, believe it or not, some women do feel bored on maternity leave.

There might be only so much self-care you can handle before you want to get back to doing stuff again.

Especially if you’re used to a high-octane lifestyle.

And that’s okay, too.

As long as you remember, there’s no pressure to do anything extra just before or after giving birth to a brand-new (tiny) human.

Unless you want to get extra with baby’s nursery

You do you.

In this blog post, we’re running through some practical things to do while on maternity leave—both before and after your baby arrives.

Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of fun things, too.

All you really need to do is move at your own pace and decide for yourself what’s doable.

In this article: 📝

  • What to do on maternity leave before baby arrives?
  • Practical things to do on maternity leave (after baby arrives)
  • What can I do to make money while on maternity leave?
  • How do I entertain myself on maternity leave?
  • Is it normal to feel lonely on maternity leave?

What to do on maternity leave before baby arrives?

Before your little one arrives on the scene, you may have a bit of time on maternity leave (depending on your situation and the work laws in your state or country).

So, what should you do with this time?

Here are some ideas to think about:

1. Get accustomed to not working

Some mamas struggle to switch off, and that’s totally understandable.

But remember, on maternity leave, you’re entitled to step away from work completely.

Clear communication with your work team about your intentions before you go can help with this transition.

2. Draw up a little action plan for the big day

Hospital bag by the door? Check.

Route to the hospital avoiding the roadworks planned? Check.

And let’s not forget your birth plan.

Childbirth can be a master of surprises, so it’s helpful to get all this planned in advance.

3. Double-check you’ve got everything you need

Ah, the high chair your aunt gave you doesn’t work, and you’ve lost the pacifiers.

Is the baby car seat installed?

Wait, there’s only one pair of pajamas?

And what about the rest of the baby essentials?

How do you even fold baby clothes??

Mama, there’ll always be something you’ve forgotten or overlooked.

If you’ve got time to kill (and admire Monica-level organization), check out our guide to bringing home baby.

4. Take a crash course in baby equipment

So, you’ve gathered everything you need for baby, but how do you use it?

Figuring out how to connect your baby’s car seat to their stroller is far less fun when you’ve got a screaming newborn and zero energy.

Pop on Netflix in the background and take your baby’s kit on a mini crash course.

Even better, assemble everything and have it ready for use when you need it most.

5. Do some things you might not have an opportunity to do again for a while


Short of heading off on a babymoon, now is the time to take advantage of your independence.

Think of it as a major mental health boost to carry you through those first overwhelming weeks.

In time you’ll be able to do it all again, but until then, savor some of these pre-parenting activities:

  • Pampering: Getting a haircut, manicure, pedicure, or anything else that you might have less time for once your little one arrives.
  • Get the essentials in: Really? Running errands? Hey, before long, running out to the shop will require military precision and strategy. Besides, you don’t want to run out of loo roll on day two post-birth. Write a big ol’ list of the boring stuff you need to keep you going.
  • Deep clean: Wait… this was supposed to be fun! One of the first things to go during postpartum recovery is a pristine home. And this can be tough if you take pride in your interiors. You can always delegate this…
  • Spend a night with friends: You might not feel up for it—and again, that’s totally okay. But one thing to do on maternity leave before your baby arrives is hang out with all the pals you might not see much in the coming weeks. Bring on the mocktails!
  • Chill: This needs to be on any list of what to do on maternity leave. Sleep, Netflix binge, lie in. This rest reload will come in useful.

6. Set your body up for recovery

Postpartum recovery can begin before you give birth.

Exercise during pregnancy boasts big benefits for your postnatal recovery.

And a 2019 study has even shown that water-based exercises can help speed up labor time.

But it’s not all about the workouts.

Nutrition is key whether you’re on a pregnancy meal plan or moving into postpartum diet territory.

If you have time to spare, you could also start cooking batches and stocking up your freezer.

Future sleepy, you will be so thankful.

7. Source a support group

We’ve said it before, and we’ll continue to shout it from the rooftops: it takes a village to raise a child.

But it also takes a strong network to keep a mom lifted.

You don’t have to navigate every part of motherhood alone—no matter how unique your circumstances are.

Finding a solid support group, local mom groups, or even bump buddy will make all the difference to the coming months and years ahead.

Strength in numbers, mama!

Find new friends nearby

A connection is made every 3 seconds on Peanut.

Meet, chat and learn from like-minded women.

Practical things to do on maternity leave (after baby arrives)

They’re here! 🥳

And if you’re prodding “what to do while on maternity leave” into Google, it sounds like you’re feeling up to taking more on.

We’ve got the deets on how to use your maternity leave time to the max:

  1. Rest: Sneaking this to the top of the list. Rest is crucial, even when you feel like you’re well-rested. Take it easy if you can.
  2. Get out of the house: This one’s on the practical list because it’s more a need than a want. Things can get a little stuffy when you’re home all day, but a simple stroll around the block can clear your head and give you a bit of perspective.
  3. Talk to your insurance company: Many health insurance plans require you to tell them when you have a baby, as they’ll need to cover the little one too. Not really a fun thing to do on maternity leave, we know.
  4. Checking in on the finances: Some mamas start saving money for college immediately. Others want to get to the end of their mat leave comfortably. Whatever your situation, doing a little audit of your finances might be a useful task for now.
  5. Test your daycare plan: Whether you’re opting for daycare, a nanny, or granny, taking a week at the end of maternity leave to see how it all goes while you’re still available can help make things a little smoother before you start work.
  6. Prepare for the return to work: If you intend on going back to work after baby, it can be tough when the day comes. Easing yourself in with reduced hours might be helpful, but that depends on whether your employer is open to it.

What can I do to make money while on maternity leave?

Taking unpaid maternity leave is difficult for many mamas.

If you want (or need) to make some money on the side while on maternity leave, there are lots of options to consider.

You can try your hand at home-based freelancing, like writing, social media management, voice-over work, graphic design, admin or accountancy, or anything else that fits your interests and skills.

From paid transcription jobs to vacancies for virtual assistants, there’s lots of platforms for finding freelance work.

Google is a great place to start if you’re looking to be matched with companies looking for freelancers.

Or you could try doing some online tuition or consultancy.

And if you have creative impulses, you could finally take the leap and sell your arts and crafts on a platform like Etsy.

Who knows, you could have a rising entrepreneur lying within.

How do I entertain myself on maternity leave?

With the practical things taken care of, how about fun maternity leave activities?

Here are a few options for when you have the energy:

  1. 📝 Keep a daily journal: This is great for your future memories but can also be beneficial for your mental health. Journals are fantastic outlets for emotions, and writing down your experiences can help you find perspective.
  2. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Invite friends and family over: Having a stream of guests might get a bit exhausting, but loved ones coming to see the new celebrity is a nice way to spend some time.
  3. 🍝 Have a romantic night in: Chances are you’re not going out on the town. Instead, light some candles, make a tasty meal, and recreate some romance at home.
  4. 📚 Start a photobook: Capture every moment to cherish later with a cute baby memory book.
  5. 🎨 Get creative: Arts and crafts don’t just have to be a side hustle. It’s also to unwind.
  6. 📸 Photoshoot: Your body’s in the throes of a milestone chapter, so why not honor it with a maternity photoshoot?
  7. 🚗 Take a trip: If you feel up to it, perhaps towards the end of maternity leave, you can take your little one for a trip into the big wide world. Some mamas travel the world on maternity leave, but let’s not pretend that’s the norm. We’re all welcome to enjoy a journey—or a weekend away—which is a little closer to home.

Is it normal to feel lonely on maternity leave?

One minute you’re out in the world, soaking in the feel-good vibrations of a thriving social life.

The next, you’re in a bubble of your own, adjusting to an entirely new lifestyle while your old one becomes a distant memory.

Yes, mama, it’s totally normal to feel lonely on maternity leave.

What’s more, it’s a sentiment shared by so many in the Peanut community—a cool 82% of women on Peanut feel lonely.

And according to this 2017 study, 28% of new moms experience loneliness after giving birth.

So, what gives?

Simply put, loneliness in motherhood is the result of huge change and redirection.

Having a baby changes your world—and not just financially and physically.

Your perceptions and priorities change as you discover new challenges and responsibilities.

As does your sense of self.

All this, plus lack of free time, means your (existing) social circle may become noticeably smaller.

We say: it’s making room for a new one.

Because while you may not feel as aligned with some of the friends you once had, there’s a whole community of parents who get it.

And they’re lonely too.

Nothing secures strong attachments quite like shared experiences.

And this is important because, between baby blues, postpartum depression, and parenting stress, the one thing no mom should feel is isolated.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of a new routine with your babe and have given yourself space to grieve your old life (it happens), reach out to moms near you.

You’ll be so thankful you did.

As long as you’re taking care of your mental, physical, and emotional well-being, there’s no wrong way to spend your maternity leave.

The purpose of maternity leave is to set you and your baby up for success no matter what challenges come your way (and there will be challenges).

So, venture to the cinema, practice your baby seat installation skills, and stock up on essentials.

But most importantly, reach out.

The Peanut community is only ever a tap away.


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