Pickle Planet is pleased to welcome Shauna Cole, a New Brunswick mother and human resources professional, to share some insight for those of you transitioning between career and parenting. She’s shared her 17 questions you must ask your employer before going on maternity leave and a deep dive into the nitty gritty details of maternity and parental leave in New Brunswick. Today, a more personal list – her tips for surviving winter at home with a newborn!
My first baby, Jayden, was born in November. I basically felt like we were never going to leave the house. Ever. Again. The winter he was born was brutal; there were storms that shut our city down and the power went out three times before he was two months old.
A newborn is enough to test our every last ounce of mental fortitude, let alone a newborn plus being housebound due to bad weather. If you’re struggling through a winter maternity leave, I feel for you. Here are seven strategies you can start today to survive winter at home. Point seven is critical.
1. Get Dressed. So you might not be leaving the house due to weather but at least put on your best leggings and messy bun so you’re ready to conquer the day. Keeping a routine (and I use the word ‘routine’ loosely) during maternity leave is important for your mental health. So, if you can, make time for yourself and get dressed, do your hair and/or shower. Sometimes I would put on mascara in the morning to feel kind of like myself again. That was my first maternity leave. By my second maternity leave, longing for mascara was no longer an issue.
2. Move. Even if all you want to do is stay in the house, force yourself to do something active. There’s just something about getting moving that helps us to feel better about things. If it’s freezing cold out, bundle up that baby and head to the mall. Do some window shopping and enjoy the walk.
When I was on maternity leave with Jayden the weather in January was oddly really nice. The temps went up for days at a time so we were able to get outdoors. If you’re lucky enough to have a couple warm days, ditch whatever you’ve got planned indoors and head outdoors. Nice winter days are rare so you’ve got to take advantage when they happen.
3. Socialize. If you’re lucky enough to have some friends on leave, set up a standing playdate. During my first maternity leave we had a group of four moms that would get together the same day and time, weekly. We rotated going to each other’s houses and brought pot-luck style snacks. It was easy to do and by having a standing day and time it was easy to manage the schedule. Even during our awful winter, we only missed a couple of weeks of an entire year. It was nice to have something to look forward to.
If a Mom group isn’t your jam, give some thought to other ways you and baby can socialize during the day to avoid insanity. Maybe there’s someone you can go visit, or meet for coffee. Just try to schedule something at least once a week. It will make you feel kind of ‘normal.’
4. Take a Class. There are always events like reading groups at your local library, or baby feeding clinics that happen around town. These are a great way to meet moms and also get out of the house.
You might also consider taking a class just for yourself. Something you can do while baby is with your partner or a babysitter. Consider doing something for your professional or personal development, like an online course. You could also consider joining a class at your gym or other type of physical activity group. This is a nice way to connect with a different community, outside of your typical Mom circle.
5. Work Your To Do List. If you have some things you wanted to accomplish around the house during your maternity leave – now is the time to tackle them. Whether you had some cabinets to clean out or some lofty DIY goals, why not get focused on them now and set yourself a deadline for the Spring? That way you can get out and enjoy the spring and summer weather with baby without the guilt.
6. Be Flexible. Winter is tough. It’s really hard to look forward to a playdate or class only to have it cancelled due to weather. But this is simply the reality of where we live. This is really hard for me because I love to schedule things and I’m a total Type A personality. Consider this an opportunity for personal growth. This is only the beginning of the lessons around flexibility that the baby will teach you!
7. Remember: This Too Shall Pass. Winter at home with a newborn can be brutal. In fact, I would say that first maternity leave during a long winter was some of the harshest stuff I faced as a Mom to date. Sometimes it was lonely, depressing, frustrating, and felt like it was never going to end. Just like any other season of parenthood though, it passed far too quickly when I look back.
For now, all you can do is weather the storm, plan for your survival and do your best.
Shauna Cole is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources with a Master’s Degree in Business and Undergraduate Degree in Communications. She lives in a house filled with boys; her partner and their two sons. You can find her on her website, on Facebook, and on Instagram. You can also read her other Pickle Planet posts, 17 questions you must ask your employer before going on maternity leave and a deep dive into the nitty gritty details of maternity and parental leave in New Brunswick.