Sparkling Allison

American expat in Denmark, mom, lover of sparkles and staplers, avid book club member.

My 10 Commandments of Maternity Leave

This is DenmarkSparkling Allison

A couple of years ago, I was #funemployed and wrote 10 commandments for myself to live by during that time. I wasn't expecting to be out of work for very long, but the commandments gave me a little structure that I needed. Today is my first, non-weekend day of what is going to be a looooong maternity leave (12 months+), so I thought I'd write down some commandments for myself to live by during this longer, very different time!

1. Thou shalt maintain having 1 night a week for myself, preferably out of the house.

This is something that Scott and I currently do. Scott uses his night to go climbing with some friends. I typically use mine for my monthly Craftenhagen and book club meetings, and the other 2 weeks of the month, I... stay late at work, and then go shopping by myself! I'm thinking that these other 2 nights of the month could be more productive, e.g. a workout class or something. We'll see. I also just like roaming the streets alone, so...

2. Thou shalt make social arrangements with other mamas 2x per week.

I think this will probably mean 1 play date a week, with Calvin's buddies and their mamas (or papas), and one get together with mamas of babies. There's a very active North American Mom's group on Facebook that gets together regularly. I may also be able to join a mama's group through our city/kommune. There are also mama meet ups at the local libraries and community centers to tap in to. Lots of options here.

3. Thou shalt get out of the house every day, for more than just bornehave drop off / pick up.

This is related to the above two, but more specifically is about just getting out, no matter what. This means a walk in a park, a shopping excursion, meeting up with people, going to lunch with Scott, going to free days at the museums, whatever. I think this will help me keep myself in check! Get. Out. Of. The. House. Every. Day.

4. Thou shalt read (or listen to) 1 book per week.

This is something I did during #funemployment. I think it will come pretty naturally... I'm planning to keep up on my work book club (if it continues in my absence), and my social book club (which generally reads fiction). And I have a backlog of audio and Kindle books to get through. Should have plenty of time while breastfeeding, right?!

5. Thou shalt complete the Udemy Python for Data Science Course.

I'm a tiny bit concerned about getting rusty with the data tools I've been using and learning over the last year: R, Python, Databricks, Redshift. I love this stuff! I bought this Udemy course when it was on sale for $10, and hope to do it sometime later in my mat leave.

6. Thou shalt spend every other Wednesday morning, and only those Wednesday mornings, cleaning the house.

Unlike #funemployment, where I diligently (kind of) cleaned the house 1x per week, we plan to keep our every-other-weekly cleaners during maternity leave. The house still needs a good scrub on the off weeks though, so I plan to do a round of cleaning on those days. Garbage out, sinks cleaned, floors vacuumed, done.

7. Thou shalt make a big dinner 1x per week. 

Not going to be hard. I do this (and more) right now and love it, but expect it to wane with a little tiny baby. Setting this as a goal now so that I'll get back into the rhythm of it.

8. Thou shalt catch up with work every quarter.

A big reorganization happened at my work right as I was walking out the door on Friday. No sugar coating, it sucked to leave under the circumstances. I'm happy to be able to walk away from it for now, but also know that I should keep in contact over the next months to see how things are going, evaluate where I might fit when coming back, and generally say hello. I like my coworkers a lot, and I'd get a free lunch out of it, and also maybe some delicious ice cream from the shop in our building, so... :)

9. Thou shalt take some big trips, and some little trips.

This is something that Scott and I need to agree on together, of course, and something that will have to work with finances. So I can't put exact numbers on it, but our plans right now are to go to the US at some point, and to Australia at some point. Maaaaybe back to Singapore. I would also love to take some long weekends around Denmark and farther out into Europe as it makes sense. We just booked a trip to Barcelona for a wedding in early September, 8 weeks after baby is due, so feeling optimistic about being able to get out and about.

10. Thou shalt ditch bornehave with Calvin every so often.

I can't put a specific number of days on this either, but it's something I want to do every once in a while with Calvin. Maybe every other month, or something like that. I'm thinking some special trips to the zoo, aquarium, whatever else, with all the kiddos. Wish me luck.


Okay. I'm nervous about it all. Mothering isn't my strong suit, but it's also something I love doing. I also love working. Like, a lot. I have loved the juxtaposition of being both a professional and a mama. The two roles haven't had to be mutually exclusive, and holding both of them at once has been a great challenge, and a big period of growth for me. While I can't necessarily define the life I have in front of me right now, as I go forward focusing on one role (mama), minimally maintaining the other (professional), I'm excited for what the time will bring.

I'm also feeling incredibly fortunate and grateful. Grateful not to be going back to work while breastfeeding, most of all. Grateful to have lots of time to re-establish our family's routines and strengthen our relationships. Grateful to be able to connect with this new little one, and be there for all of the crazy development that happens in the first year. We would not be able to do this if it weren't for making the move to Denmark, where it is the norm. Cheers to that.