Learn How to Balance Work and Life While on Maternity Leave

Use this new quadrant to-do list

Find balance during maternity leave
Getty Images/Gael Conrad

During maternity leave you are get on-the-job training about caring for a newborn.  You are pretty much on your own with little to no adult interaction.  Since your newborn sleeps often and you are sleep deprived you get bored and lonely.  

The baby giggles are wonderful but you can't help feeling there's something missing.  It wasn't long ago that you were extremely busy from nine to five.  A swamped schedule made you feel important.

 But now you're adapting to a new way of feeling important.  This is quite a change in lifestyle! How will being a mom fit in with your work life?

When you’re not busy moving your busy thinking.  How will life change now that the baby is actually here? At 2am feedings you start thinking about work. You start to understand why many struggle with balancing motherhood and work. A flood of thoughts and emotions rush through you and you think “How will I do it all?”

You can’t control everything, including your newborn but you can control your actions.  To help you start integrating work into your new life try a quadrant to-do list.

 Divide your thoughts up into four categories:  Self-care, family, career, and home management. 

Here are a few suggestions you can put into this list:

Figure out your values and priorities

In your self-care quadrant write that you’ll take time to reflect on what your values and priorities are.

  Your values are things that are important to you, and a new one will be your newborn.  Your priorities will change daily, weekly, and even monthly. 

Do you know how knowing your values and priorities will help you integrate work into your new life?  When the time comes to make what feels like a tough choice you are going to think about what is important to you -- your values and priorities.


Knowing your values and priorities ahead of time stops you from hemming and hawing on things.  It makes you assertive in your choices, which will feel empowering!

Schedule time to rest often

So now that you are responsible for a newborn and all that comes with it rest and sleep can take a back seat.  If you want to integrate work into your personal life well you’ll need to fit in time to rest.  This is something that should be at the top of the self to-do list. 

Does a warm bubble bath relax you or a good book?  Before your baby arrived what did you like to do often to recuperate from your busy lifestyle. 

Keep a diary for you and your baby

In the family quadrant, write, "write in my journal once per day" to keep you accountable.  You are going through a big life change at the moment and it'd be awesome to keep track of your thoughts and feelings.   It's won't hurt, I promise. You'll stop having the same thought over and over again because by writing it down you process them and then move on to something new.

While you're at it, keep a baby diary.  This will help you stay present with your baby instead of thinking about work or worrying what the future holds.  Enjoy how focusing on your baby slows down time and brings you happiness.

Begin to grow your support system 

Another family quadrant item will be to start forming a dependable support system.  Who do you want in your support system?  How can they help you?  If they say you’re tired it’s not that they are putting you down.  Try to understand that they are trying to adapt to your (new) needs.  When someone asks you, “Can I help you?”  Say Yes!  

Investigate your area of career expertise

With the big changes going through you may question if your career is going in the right direction.  There's nothing wrong with thinking about either making a change or falling even more in love with what you do for work.  

Take advantage of this break from work to assess how you feel. Sleep deprivation may make you forgetful so have your diary near by. 

Laundry, Purging, and Home Improvement Projects 

Last, but not least, in the home quadrant, write down the different loads of laundry that needs to be done, when you’ll change the sheets, how and when you’ll start purging projects and any home improvement projects you'd love to start.  When your support system visits they can see what you’d like help with <wink>.

Manage your personal energy

Everything you do will use personal energy.  Some things that you do will take more energy than others.  Your emotions spend personal energy.  Now is a great time to learn how to manage your personal energy

Doing the laundry won’t use up as much energy as late night feedings.  Making a new meal will take up more energy than one of your staples.  Crying about returning to work uses up personal energy, but you could boost your energy if you focus on your baby squirming around. 

There will be times when you have the energy to make big meals but not after bad night’s rest.  On the flip side, there will be times when you have to make that new meal on little sleep, but the good news is, through trial and error, you’ll learn how much energy you can spend before you’re spent and also ways that you can boost your energy when you need it most.

So when you are jotting down these four different to-do lists, keep your energy management in mind so that you don’t burn out.  No one likes a crabby mom or co-worker.  Managing your energy properly is the secret to finding balance.