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Things To Do on Maternity Leave

Besides the obvious loving, snuggling, feeding, and general tending of the world’s cutest damn baby, there’s actually, surprisingly, time… for things. Turns out newborns sleep a lot. And when you figure out that schedule (afternoons good – mornings bad), you can sorta capitalize on it. To do stuff. Combine that with a lack of income (not a complete lack just yet, but an impending lack), and what do you have? A recipe for renewed frugality. Not just a lifestyle, friends. A past time, a hobby, an ever flowing fountain of inspiration… especially when you’ve just been featured on MSN money. Quick! Do something frugal! Everybody is looking!

So what am I doing with this free time?

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Laundry. Lots of laundry. A baby necessity, and in and of itself, not money saving. Homemade laundry detergent and an outdoor clothesline I now have the time and inspiration to use religiously certainly soften the blow (if not the towels). Especially when you are washing a butt ton (literally) of…

Cloth Diapers. My foray into the world of poop catching garments has been nothing short of a research odyssey. Pre-Folds? Covers? All in ones? Chinese? Indian? WTF? Fortunately, I was turned on to an amazing deal on try out various styles, hands-on, in those short lived newborn sizes for $10. That led me to the world of used diapers. Hallelujah! The style we like at significantly discounted prices. I’m even looking forward to re-selling our diapers once this kid grows out of them. Cloth diapering, apparently quite cyclical.

Entertainment. Who needs it when you’ve got a wiggly baby? But, just in case I feel like squandering a little of that productivity time (or need a distraction during the 2am feeding), there’s Copper and Longmire on Netflix or Amazon Prime. (Nothings on Hulu right now. Cancel it. I did.) Need something quieter? Digital copies of Beautiful Creatures or The Lies of Locke Lamora from the Library have been saving my life (or so it seems during the middle of the night). If you actually feel like leaving the house, something I rarely seem to do these days, unless its on foot with a baby in a Moby, RedBox is offering a free trial of their new RedBox Instant streaming service. The streaming selection sucks, but it comes with 4 credits for kiosk rentals. That’s 4 free movies. I already used mine and canceled the trial. (Warm Bodies didn’t do much for me FYI.)

Baby Savings. No really. I’ve got paperwork pending for the Early Savers Account offered by my local credit union. Up to $500 at 6.17%? Yes, please. That interest will make for a nice 18th birthday present. Once I wade through the logistics of my states Guaranteed Education Tuition, we’ll be off the the races there too. It is either super ridiculous to start these things now, or genius. I’m not sure which. I’ve got my eye open for other such baby-friendly promotions.

Food Waste. So when you have a baby, all the people in your life rally around you in a beautiful showing of community support that makes new moms a little weepy (at least this new mom). And they bring you food. Lots of food. Lunches of pitas with all the fixins’ and then some, thai food take out, falafel dinners, pulled pork, fruit trays. Your Mother-in-law might even stock your freezer a bit. Then you gotta eat all this food. We built up our own freezer reserves before this blessed event, in preparation for sleepless nights and hurried eating. Thus far, we’ve barely touched that stash. We focused on eating/repurposing/preserving/occasionallyfeedingtothechickens every scrap of food delivered with love. Its paid off. Grocery spending? What’s that? We might have to resume some of those activities this weekend, in preparation for…

Birthday Festivities. I usually go all out for my birthday. Time off. Big Parties. Spending on the upswing. This year, I’m a little more meh. There’s still a party to be had. A short one. In the afternoon. On a Sunday. Honestly, it’s mostly so everyone can see my baby. We’ll provide hamburgers. Burger from our freezer, still rocking the bulk buy, buns purchased with a gift card, pickles I made, condiments I canned, and a few other discount features. We might make deviled eggs. Chips and dip. Homemade cupcakes. I’m having a hard time mustering the gumption to spend. Sometime ago, I chose time over money. What I’ve got right now is the time, so I better not be too interested in the money.

Neglected Garden. Formerly known as Ugly Garden. For all I didn’t put into her this year, last years seeds that failed to sprout, mono-crops largely consisting of potatoes and onions (The Husband says we’ll have low protein soups), she rewards me. Those potatoes and onions don’t look half bad. The local-est of strawberries and raspberries are making an appearance in my morning yogurt. There could actually be a garlic harvest, folks. My very own garlic. Spinach, collards, beans. All is not lost. The Ladies keep producing (and being generally pleasant). I’m holding out hope for actual fall crops. Even if I have to buy the starts.

Promotions. Spend $X before 8/31 for a $20 credit? Done! Use this card at Whole Foods to save $10 off $75? Got it. Swagbucks? I’m on it. It’s like a reverse Willie Nelson lyric. I’ve got the money, honey. If you’ve got the time. Yeah, that. Reverse it. You’ll also note this post is fraught with affiliate links. (I appreciate your patronage.) The small amounts of money that are to be spent in the near future, I’ll do the best I can to offset, pad, defer, and just generally save by any means necessary. When I’m not distracted by a pesky day job, this seems so much easier. And, ya know, more important. My email and my notebook are full of notes on discounts, potential discounts, and things I need discounts on. Hyper focused frugality, engaged.

Its not particularly glamorous, this phase. It’s not time-off forever. Its not without complications (screaming, crying complications that you love all the same). It feels really good though. A plan executed. I can’t exactly let my guard down, but I can continue the skills I used to get here in the first place. Maybe amped up a bit…courtesy of napping babies.

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It sounds like you have figured out this stage of motherhood. Congratulations! That you have the mental energy to be this coordinated is impressive. You are doing lots of great things and able to keep your finances in mind.

Hopefully soon we’ll be hearing more about the ugly garden!


Not completely figured out. As soon as I claim that, the kid changes the game in some unanticipated middle of the night wake up ordeal, or gas, or no longer being happy in his carrier… and his bag of tricks only promises to get bigger. :) But we are surviving rather well, and keep our ships afloat, including the financial one.

Ugly Garden is due for a status update. I agree!

Done by Forty

Thanks for sharing a perspective on maternity leave I hadn’t heard before (that yes, there is some downtime and some good things to do with it). And congratulations on your article in MSN Money! The comments were really supportive.


I know! Supportive comments! I thought that only happened around here! I’m ever so thankful. I was a little afraid to look.

I attribute The Husband’s mad Daddy skills and involvement to our downtime and good things. We make a good team. And babies gotta sleep eventually. No matter how they fight it!


I am so, so jealous that your newborn slept. Mine catnaps, and only if she’s in someone’s arms. And she’s now 3 months old, still refusing to sleep if she’s not lovingly held.
Of course, I whine about it but it gave me the much needed time to slow down and recover from my extremely fast emergency c-section, and to bond with my baby girl. Still, it would have been nice to get a bit more done on my maternity leave…

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