I had my first taste of an early “retirement” when I took 6 months of maternity leave with my son 2 years ago. It was completely magical yet by the end of the 6 months off, I was actually ready to return to work.
It’s may seem a bit crazy, that a person like myself who is striving to not work in 7 years, actually wanted to return to work only after taking 6 months off. How is that possible? Well, I will tell you, two years ago, my mindset after having my 1st son was totally different from what it is today.
With my first son, I had no plan or future outlook of where I would want to be 7-10 years down the road. I was just happy to be a mom and to spend quality time with him. He was my first child and everything was so new to me. I was engulfed with being mom and just figuring things out over those 6 months. Nothing else mattered to me. My usual budget savvy and planner personality took a back seat. I was all about being a mom. While out on maternity leave, I didn’t focus or work on anything else. I am usually the planner in my family and I found it hard to juggle the role of being a mom and everything else that comes with life.
Looking back at it now, I truly enjoyed my time off to focus and settle into being a first time mom. At the end of my leave, I was just ready to get back to being something other than just a mom. I was missing the adult interaction and having time to myself. I had totally lost big parts of what made me personally happy during that period and it was all by choice. I chose to just focus on being a mom for that time period and I don’t regret that for one bit.
This time around, with my 2nd on the way, I plan on doing things a little differently. I still plan on basking in and enjoying every moment I can with my son and newborn while on maternity leave but I also will make deliberate intentions to continue to develop myself personally. My mindset is also totally different this time around. Now, I actually have a goal to become financially independent and to focus on my blog.
I intend to approach this maternity leave as a sample of what early retirement will feel like. In addition to being a mom, I will pursue my other goals in life and take time out for me.
Here’s How I Plan to Do That:
1. Utilize/Ask For Help
Sometimes, as moms we take on the martyr role to our own detriment and are afraid to ask for help. In my case, I have been able to save for hired assistance while I am off. If you are unable to hire a helper or aid, ask your partner, family member or close friends for help. It will not make you weak or less of a mom. The better rested and more fulfilled you are personally, the better mom you will be for your kids.
With my 1st son, I had no consistent day-to-day help for most of my time off. My husband was off for two months, and that helped immensely, but for most of my maternity leave, it was just me. This time around, I will have and ask for more help. My aunt watches my son now while my husband and I work full-time. She will continue to help watch my son and help with the new baby when the time comes. While I still plan on being an active hands on as a parent, knowing I will have help during this time alleviates some anxiety. I will have more flexibility during the day to work on this blog and take time out for me.
2. Better Time Management and Planning
Get on a schedule or plan once you are bit settled into your role as a mom. While most things will be new to you (especially as a first time mom), its essential to create some structure in your day so that the time doesn’t just flow into a black hole. While newborns and toddlers are unpredictable,a schedule helps you know what to expect in terms of activities on a day-to-day basis.
In my case, not only will this be helpful for the kids (they thrive on schedules) but I can set a specific time out in the day to work on my personal goals. The first time around, I was flying blind without a plan of what I wanted to accomplish or do on a day-to-day basis. While I still intend to have flexibility and days of just “blahness”, I will be more structured about how I go about my days, weeks and months. One way I intend on doing this is planning a “Summer Bucket List” for my 2-year-old son. I am in the midst of creating a weekly/monthly activity chart of all the fun things I want to do with him while I am off of work.
3. Have Actual Goals
This brings me to having actual goals while out on maternity leave. Here are just a couple of my goals while I’m out:
- Focus more on my blog and growing readership eventually monetizing it.
- Get back to healthy eating and working out (gentle workouts to fix my diastasis recti)
- Making the time in my schedule to connect with family and friends
- Pursuing other interests (reading more, writing, etc.)
Your goals may have nothing to do with starting a business or connecting with friends. It can be to get better organized, be more present with your kids, etc. I really want to stress that not everyone has to have grand plans to take over the world while out on maternity leave. Its stressful and overwhelming enough to just take care of a baby, trust me, I get it.
I don’t expect to have any of this figured out right away. I know my life will be pretty hectic and chaotic especially for the first few weeks after bringing my newborn son home, and that’s fine. I want to gently ease into these things and take as much time as I need to recover from labor. Maybe none of the above will happen, but I doubt that. Now that I have specific goals and plans, I plan to utilize this time off from my job as much as possible to be not only be a focused mom but to focus on myself in the meantime.
This is my second shot at a glimpse of what it would feel like to not work in Corporate America and live life on my terms. Will I still be ready to return to work at the end of the 5/6 months off? Who knows, but I am interested to see if going into this maternity leave with a different mindset will make this time off a little different from the first time around. I mean, what if I don’t want to return to work at all?…