I am the first to admit that I was 100% unprepared for maternity leave. My baby was due at the end of June and because of some complications I was having (which was hindering my ability to work), my OB was talking about putting me off as early as the beginning of March. Given my unpreparedness, there was no way we’d be able to handle an additional three months on top of what would be a yearlong leave from my job. The only thing I did know was that money would be tight.
It was a huge wake up call to find out my income would inevitably be almost 60% decreased on leave for twelve long months. To say it was an adjustment would be an understatement. I learned a lot though and when the time comes for future children we will be much more prepare following these few self-imposed rules.
Beef up the Savings
We had zero savings when our daughter was born. Not even an emergency fund. Thankfully we got our act together and stashed a small one away once we realized how unsafe we were being but it wasn’t easy. If we have more kids I will be spending the whole gestational period saving more money. If my doctor wants me to go off early again I need to be able to do it and not worry about the financial repercussions. I need to be able to take care of me and my (potential) baby.
Adjust Your Budget
Again, we didn’t have a budget when I went off with our daughter, big no-no. Now that we have a money monitoring system in place, if we have more kids I will adjust it to accommodate the changes. You need to figure out what your new baby will need (diapers, clothes, potential formula, medical appointments etc.) and make sure the money is allotted. Also make sure any income changes are addressed for the time off work.
Prepare Your Life
Do as much prep as you can before your income and time is potentially reduced. There were things we didn’t necessarily need right away (high chair, crib) but we bought when we had more disposable income and had time to shop sales.
Also spend time preparing for the first few weeks at home. While you have time and energy, prep your freezer for easy meals or you may find yourself eating out more than you’d like. Those first few days, weeks, are exhausting and if you are the primary cook, you will really want easy meals. Your spouse will be tired too and be so thankful when you tell them there’s a meal already prepped in the freezer for them to throw in.
Whether it’s your first or fourth, being pregnant and bringing a new baby home will be a change in every aspect of your life. Don’t be like me with my first pregnancy, sit down as soon as you find out your pregnant and figure out what changes you need to make in your life!
What things did you do to prepare for maternity leave?