8 Maternity Leave Myths That Are Lies! Lies! Lies!
First baby alert. Maternity leave is on the horizon, and you’ve got a crystal-clear vision of your no longer pregnant self, a blissfully sleeping newborn and chill and carefree days on repeat for approximately three months. Reality check: You’re lucky if you can tiptoe around quietly enough to load the dishwasher, let alone remember to swipe on some mascara for a drugstore diaper run. Don’t get us wrong—it’s not all bad, but it helps to manage expectations before you embark on mat leave.
Myth: You Will Tackle Everything on Your (Ambitious) To Do List
Truth: Even if your intention is to organize your digital photos or finally Marie Kondo your closet while your newborn snoozes, keep in mind: You’re tired. And your brain is tired. Instead, you’re more likely to use the time to hydrate and marathon Friends episodes in an effort to relax and recharge. After all, recent research carried out by Jewish General Hospital and McGill University found that a mother’s total nighttime sleep in the first three months caps out at 6.29 hours—and those hours are typically interrupted frequently by everything from poopy diapers to night feeds.
Myth: You Will Go for Leisurely Strolls Every Day
Truth: First of all, there’s the issue of putting on pants, which you’re not going to want to do. Then there’s the issue of dressing baby, which can take upwards of half an hour. Then there’s the part where you forget how to unlock the stroller and...oh whatever let’s just stay home and watch Ellen.
Myth: You’ll Totally Save Money While You’re Housebound
Truth: So, you’re probably not going out to eat every weekend or spending a ton on handbags. But all that saved money goes somewhere else: Your newborn. Whether it’s necessities or adorable sailboat smockings, somehow you’re still spending oodles during this time—even if you do all your shopping online. (According to a study by the USDA, the average parent spends between $9,680 and $19,420 on the baby’s first year of life—and this is just to cover the cost of incidentals like diapers, clothing and pediatrician visits.)
Myth: You Will Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
Truth: Ever try to nap for 47 minutes at two in the afternoon? LOLZ.
Myth: You’ll Immediately Make Mom Friends
Truth: Meeting other moms isn’t the hard part. It’s meeting other like-minded moms that can prove challenging. And, according to perinatal psychotherapist Andrea Schneider, LCSW, the “mompetition” is real. “Try not to befriend people who claim to have the monopoly on what you ‘should’ do as a parent,” she explains in an interview with the Seleni Institute. And even if you’re committed to attending every single mommy meet-up within strolling distance, you may find you don’t meet your new BFF just because you both have inverted nipples. The bottom line: It takes time. And it’s a lot like dating, so patience is key.
Myth: You’ll Connect With Your Baby Right Away
Truth: You spent 40 long weeks acclimating to your pregnant self, then overnight your identity flips: You’re a mom, you’re a human dairy farm, and you're really, really friggin' tired. It can be overwhelming trying to decode your baby’s every whimper and cry—and a study by the Essential Parent Company found that a whopping 80 percent of new moms felt both anxious and completely unprepared when it comes to the practical skills required to look after baby. Just be sweet with yourself during this time and do your best to tag your partner, mother-in-law or bestie—pretty much anyone—to cover child care so you can log some self-care, even if that’s just 30 minutes for an extra long shower.
Myth: Your Baby Book Will Actually Happen
Truth: Oh the joy you felt when you registered for this...And the panic that ensued when you did nothing more than put in the stamped footprints. Don’t beat yourself up: Private Instagram logs are the new baby books, right?
Myth: You’ll Be Ready to Go Back To Work When It’s Over
Truth: It’s staggering how many countries—the United States not included—have mandated maternity leave policies. The average length of time new moms can take off in the U.S. is 12 weeks. (For perspective, Sweden allocates 480 days per child—and moms receive at least 80 percent of their pay during that time.) When the time nears to head back to the office, do your best to quiet the anxiety. Instead, talk to your manager about any flexibility (reduced hours, a work-from-home day a week) ahead of your first day back. Also, find a caregiver who promises to text you loads of pics throughout the day.