mat leave know-how

I've been a little (okay a lot) out of sorts lately and I've been keeping my distance, but I think I've turned a corner so here I am.

My mat leave is ending and I'm - gasp - going back to work next Thursday. Now don't get me wrong, I am super excited about my return to the working world (I love my job) and I'm not worried about L'il E coping in my absence (we've got an awesome caregiver) but I'm afraid of letting go. We've had a year-long love affair and saying goodbye to our daily rituals is really bringing me down. So as I start my last full week of maternity leave I wanted to share my top 10 tips on enjoying your mat leave. I've done everything I wanted to do on my year "off" and will say goodbye with no regrets.

Now I'm the first one to admit that many of my days were spent totally exhausted, sometimes emotional and utterly drained, but trust me, the following can all be accomplished. So before you judge, just take a read and if the following seems unfathomable when your year is up then we can talk.

1. Try to live in the moment at least once a day. I know your day is one giant schedule - feeding times, diaper changes and naps - but take at least 5 minutes every day and relish in the precious time you're spending with your babe. I have several that stick out in my mind and I remember them fondly.

2. Do something for you. If there is something you dreamed about at your desk or thought you would do if you had a year off. The time is now. I had a checklist of things I wanted to do while on mat leave and I've ticked them all off my list. It feels so good and now I'm returning to work with a whole new perspective.

3. Meet other mamas and make play-dates. I can't stress this enough. Go to the library, your local rec centre, public health, or go online and hook up with other moms. I have had a year of awesome coffee talks, long walks and great new friendships.

4. Explore your culinary skills. I know I'm going to get flack for this, but since you're home all day you really should, at the very least, be able to get something ready for dinner. So take this time to try new recipes, do some baking or make homemade food for your little babe once he/she starts eating solids.

5. Schedule date nights and make your partner do the early shift at least one day on the weekends. Every day for you will feel like Groundhog Day so you need to recharge your batteries.

6. Invest in a cleaning lady. Trust me. This will save your marriage and reduce loads of stress.

7. Travel. I know money is tight (EI is helpful, but...) but if you can get away at least once go for it.

8. Stay connected. It's easy to zone out to the blather of daytime TV but honestly it's so much more productive to listen the radio, go online, meet up with coworkers and stay on top of what's going on in your industry.

9. Organize. All those annoying, messy drawers, closets and shelves are calling your name. Purge and de-clutter because all of those baby toys will slowly take over your life.

10. Have fun! There are so many things you can do with your babe in tow. Go out for lunch, go to museums, go to movies, check out all of your local coffee shops, go get my drift.

I will miss you mat leave. Wish me luck on the other side.