Maternity leave can be an exciting and blissful time — those first few months with your new baby are precious. But all good things come to an end, and before you know it, you’ll be headed back to work. Here’s how to make the most of your maternity leave.

Flickr / allykeer
Flickr / allykeer

1. Be bored. If you’re wondering what to do on maternity leave, no need to fret. The initial days or weeks before your little bundle arrives are an oasis of peace and quiet. Enjoy it! Now’s the time to set up the nursery, wash his or her little clothes, and be certain you know how to put the car seat in the car. Also, read a magazine. Watch a movie. Before long, you’ll wonder how you ever had time for such things.

2. Hire a caregiver. If you are returning to work and need help with childcare, do it now and do your due diligence. This is not the time for a rush job. If you don’t know where to start, there are several childcare resource and referral opportunities — agencies, word of mouth, day care centers, and many more. When you decide to interview someone, be sure to check her background, ask for references, and above all: trust your gut. You’ll never feel secure if you hire the woman who has 20 years experience if something about her didn’t sit well with you. Your instincts are a great barometer.

3. Stock up. No need to be running to the store every other night after you return to work. It’s so much easier to stock up NOW on the things you know you’ll need. Head to a big box store and buy a 2-3 month supply of diapers (don’t forget to size up), wipes, formula, baby food, laundry detergent, bath soap, diaper cream, and anything else your baby might need in the coming months. Just one less thing to do.

4. Baby proof. You newborn is just a bundle now, but before you know it, he or she will be crawling — and heading straight for that three-prong outlet. Go to the baby gear store and get what you need — outlet covers, cabinet locks, toilet locks, soft corner covers, and whatever else your house might require. You’ll feel better knowing it’s done, especially when you’re at work.

5. Buy a pump. If you’re breastfeeding, the pump will be your new best friend at work. Breastfeeding is an amazing way to keep the physical bond with your baby and employers are legally-bound to allow you to pump at work. So get a good one and learn how to set it up. Also, prepare your baby to be bottle fed. Don’t wait until the morning you leave for work — if he or she is at all reluctant, you’ll regret not trying earlier.

6. Don’t feel guilty. Dozens of studies confirm that children reared by stay-at-home-parents and those cared for by nannies or day care centers turn out about the same — just fine. So, enjoy those moments to yourself, try not to focus on the negative, and make the most of the quality time with your child when you get home.