I had my first son in April of 2021 – he is now a wild, almost 11-month-old, crawling, and constantly climbing on everything! But, surprise, this week I will be having my second son – yes, you read that right! This means that I have become quite the expert on where to get the best maternity jeans (Target!) and great at ignoring the shocking comments people make when they realize I’m going to have two children under one! Growing my family has been the best blessing I could have ever asked for – but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that working full-time on top of being pregnant again, didn’t make being a first-time mom easy! I’ve learned a lot of things along the way, for instance, you don’t need 30 bibs – while cute, you will most likely use your own t-shirt to wipe off your little one’s face. Speaking of wipe – baby wipes are one of the best inventions of all times – make up remover? Baby wipe! Table need cleaning? Baby wipe! Out of toilet paper? You got it, grab a wipe.
One thing no one told me before having a baby was how challenging preparing for maternity leave can be. Whether you’re in the classroom or an administrator, one or maybe more than one person will be filling in for you during your absence. This leaves the preparation in your hands – as if you aren’t busy enough preparing to be a parent! Since this will my second one in the same calendar year, you could say I’m becoming a maternity leave pro. With my first maternity leave, I thought I had left everyone prepared to cover my administrative duties. My team did an amazing job (seriously, if you’re reading this, thank you!) but I was also able to see how many things I forgot to prepare to make their jobs easier. This time around, I tried to use what I learned to prepare my colleagues and myself for a smoother leave – below are my top 3 tips!
Think through everything you do!
It’s easy to make a maternity leave binder and lesson plans for your team to follow – but what about the small things you do? How do you rotate student jobs? Which student gets picked up early twice a week? I found that while I highlighted the big things, I left out a lot of the small daily tasks that often matter the most. When you’re preparing for leave, look at your job for a week – think about every step you take and make sure the guide you’re leaving behind doesn’t leave anything out! Maybe you don’t work at a school – that’s okay! What does your home routine look like? What does your family need to know to help you?
Create a binder or shared document that can serve as a guide for everything! While your team may not read every page of it, it will at least serve as a reference for when they are in a pinch, and you aren’t available! This can be a great place to outline your daily tasks, important dates, reminders, and duties that your team will need to be aware of. Make sure your classroom or office space has information clearly organized and labeled so that staff can find exactly what they need during your absence. Do you homeschool? What schedules and checklists can you set up at home to make this new chapter easy for you and your family? Click here for more information on creating a Leave Binder!
Prepare Ahead of Time
The weeks leading up to your maternity leave, make time available for meeting with your teammates to go over any questions or concerns they may have. This will provide you time to discuss upcoming events, due dates, and expectations while you are out; it’s also a great time to hear from your team about anything they need from you before you go. Remember – these meetings might be happening with your staff, friends, family, and/or homeschooling community. Whoever your “team” is, work together to make sure you all feel prepared for this next chapter!
My leave binder! (RED – Regional Education Director)
Check out the Special Education Must-Have Forms & Templates PDF available in The Autism Helper store. This large document includes to-do lists, a class cheat sheet, lesson plan templates, and more that can be used to prepare your maternity leave binder. Regardless of if you are preparing to take maternity leave from your job or adding a new baby to your homeschooling or family routine – it’s an adjustment. I hope these simple steps help you prepare for your new little bundle of joy – you got this mama!