In today’s professional climate emerging female graduates seek not only a good work culture, but also critical benefits that enable a future of motherhood. Paid parental leave is one of these sought-after luxuries. The extent of parental leave varies widely between employers, which creates a vague understanding of its significance.
What is Maternity Leave?
Cambridge Dictionary states that maternity leave is “a period in which a woman is legally allowed to be absent from work in the weeks before and after giving birth.” The bustle of preparing a workplace for one’s absence is nothing compared to the busyness of the new baby’s arrival. However, even this sprint eventually slows to a walk. This period finally allows the new mother to organize her personal affairs for a few weeks before attempting the balancing act between work and family.
Why is Maternity Leave Important?
The mental health of the mother improves significantly when she can spend the first few weeks at home with her new child. Forbes suggests that the bond created during this period is critical. Maternity leave also gives mothers time to breastfeed their child.
Though this transitional stage can leave some mothers restless due to the sudden lull in their career, others find ways to turn their newfound mental capacity into productive preparation for the future.
Here are some ways new moms can get the greatest reward out of their maternity leave:
1. Experiment with New Recipes
With time off work, you finally have the precious afternoon hours at home to try out some new dinner recipes. BuzzFeed’s Tasty is a great resource for easy meals with minimal ingredients. Easy weeknight dinners, family favorites, or 15 minutes meals are all a click away with Tasty’s delicious recipe archives. Check them out here!
2. Join a Book Club
It’s normal for new mothers to feel isolated–especially when they are on maternity leave from a job that constituted most of their social connections. Book clubs can be a great way to meet a new community of friends and build a network based on common interests. Visit your local library website to see if there are in-person opportunities near you.
Many Facebook groups offer virtual options. For example, Busy Mom’s Book Club collaborates to make a booklist each year that they post to their page. Each month on the 25th they hold virtual book discussions.
TIME Magazine even wrote an article about 10 unique, virtual book groups so that you can find the best niche for you! They also give insights about how to start your own community and lead discussions.
Whether you are an extrovert looking to connect with a new network of friends, or an introvert looking for your next favorite novel, you should be able to meet your need with the allowance of time during maternity leave.
3. Get Passionate About Planning
Maternity leave is not only time to pursue your interests and learn, but also a golden opportunity to establish a solid foundation for the future of your work and family life.
If you don’t consider “organized” to be one of your top three traits, now is the time to boost it to the top! How do moms manage to do it all? The habits of organization and prioritizing. The best way to hone these skills is by purchasing the necessary materials. I’d recommend a planner or a bullet journal.
Bullet journals are a creative way to plan each day. They empower you to plan outside of the box—literally. The purpose of a bullet journal is to design your own planner layout that best suits your lifestyle. As a versatile mother and professional, you might consider different sections to divide up tasks between work and home. The benefits of creative organization are more than just time management. Forbes states that engaging in these creative behaviors improves mental health, happiness, and increases intelligence.
Amazon sells bullet journals starting at $10. What are you waiting for?
4. Learn a Marketable Skill
Once emerging graduates find a job in the workplace, they often feel pressure to stick with their industry and education experience. Learning new hard skills often calls for time, money, and brainpower, which are far and few between for working moms.
However, many women with paid maternity leave may find themselves in the ideal situation to stretch their knowledge. There are many different resources available for learning marketable skills. Part-time student status through online options is available through universities across the nation. If you loved school but aren’t ready to commit to another degree, you can take a few classes for fun that intrigue your interest.
There are many tools that can be learned by dedicating a few hours to practice and YouTube tutorials. One of these skills is graphic design. The Adobe Suite is used for personal purposes, as well as nearly every business. Consider honing in on your design skills and learning from some of the most experienced designers in the YouTube sphere–for example, Adobe themselves.
Digital marketing is another fundamental skill to the business world. If you have ever considered freelance work or starting your own business for a more flexible lifestyle, digital marketing will give you the tools to get started. Social media management is a critical need for getting any business off the ground and running. To spread your brand and gain credibility, you will want quality content, like videos and photos. Basic Google and social advertising skills can help you build an initial audience. A close eye on your analytics will tell you what is driving customers to your site and how to keep the traffic rolling in.
Maternity leave is a fundamental period that allows a bustling professional and young mother to organize her life and develop new skills before she clocks back into her 9 to 5 schedule.
Many online resources offer solutions to harness these desirable professional and personal skills. Consider a course in digital marketing to master the creative skills of copywriting and social media that complement any career.