A guide for a female human on maternity leave

Thank you for coming. We’ll keep this presentation short and to the point. It shouldn’t be too complicated and we’re sure you’ll manage to finish your mission without any issues. As you already know, we’re sending you to Earth.

We assigned you a simple role: you’re to be a female human on maternity leave. How to best explain this? You’ll be a so-called manager, you’ll be in charge of a family of humans. You’ll share housing with a dog and four other humans: a male human, a baby human, a girl human and a boy human. Your assignment is to make sure that
a) the baby’s adequately stimulated and content,
b) the human children are thriving physically, mentally and emotionally,
c) your relationship with the male human stays fresh, exciting and fulfilling,
d) your friendships with other humans are deep and meaningful and
e) you’re healthy and alive.

That’s it in a nutshell. Simple, right? We’ll quickly run you through your typical day before we let you go. 

Nighttime duties

You’ll be sharing a bed with the male human and, for most of the night, with the baby human. At night you won’t have much to do. You’ll be woken up approximately every two hours by the crying baby. That’s your cue to pick him up. He’s hungry. Simply let the baby attach himself and suck the food out of you. Don’t fall asleep or he’ll fall off the bed and it will be your fault if he hurts himself. Make sure you don’t wake the male human up. He needs his rest to function correctly.  

Morning routine

When you wake up for the fifth time, your day begins. Start it with a smile. If the male human asks, say your night was good. It’s important not to infect other humans with your bad mood and tiredness. Each one of your nights will be the same and in a blur. It’s enough to say “My night was good, I’m feeling good” as you change the baby, while the male human dresses himself. 

Soon the younger two humans will wake up. They will be grumpy and demanding. They can’t control their own emotions yet so you’re partially responsible for their moods. Create space for them to express their emotions freely, soak up their grumpiness, ignore them when they’re being objectionable, distract them with silly games, but have them hurry up and get ready or they’re going to be late. Inhale. Exhale. Joke. Dance. Sing. 

Fight your urge to shout when they ignore your commands. You are programmed to feel guilty if you shout. The children might try to argue with you. Speak to them in a strict, but calm tone. They need to know that you have the world around them under control to feel safe. You also need to be in control of your own emotions. Don’t get upset, they’re just children. Don’t take anything they say personally. 

Time to get to school

Help the human children get dressed, serve them breakfast, did they brush their teeth? In case you were wondering, don’t worry, you won’t forget about the baby. He’ll loudly complain if you don’t hold him constantly, even as you’re doing other things. Carry him, cuddle him, comfort him, you don’t want him to be upset. Pack a lunch box for the girl while you fill out the forms that say, yes, the children are allowed to visit a theatre, to go on a field trip, to attend a sporting event. Pack the bags for their extra-curricular activities. Convince them that “it’s important to learn to play the guitar, come on, you love Maths, you really are good at sports”.

When young humans finish getting ready, they’ll need to leave the house to go to their institutions. Make sure they have their jackets and waterproof shoes on. The male human goes to work, the girl goes to school, the boy goes to kindergarten, the baby stays with you.

Drive carefully as you drive the girl to school. Mind the other drivers, stop at the pedestrian crossings, let the humans cross safely. Listen to the girl, she’s talking to you, this is important to her! Focus on what the girl’s saying. Don’t get involved too much because she needs her autonomy. Give her some space and freedom. But don’t get involved too little because she’ll feel confused and alone. Watch out for the bikes, red traffic light means stop! Guide the girl wisely from a distance while creating closeness. What you say or don’t say today may influence some of the big decisions she makes later in her life.

Close your eyes for a second as the girl enters the school building. Breathe. The baby’s crying in the back seat. His crying will eventually get louder until he becomes hysterical. Decide for yourself whether to stop and feed him again on the side of the road or to drive with him screaming in the back. 

Day at home

When at home, have the baby close so that he can see you at any given moment. Sing to him, let him crawl and explore, make sure you engage his brain because it’s developing rapidly at this stage. Talk to him so he knows you’re there as you’re tidying up the table after breakfast, emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry.

Time to feed the baby again, it’s been a couple of hours. Offer him some fruit, he’s old enough to eat proper food now. Breastfeed him again when he refuses to eat the fruit. Change him as he wriggles while he’s trying to eat a pack of wet wipes. 

This is a good time to start making a mental list of the things that need to be accomplished today. You have six hours before young humans and the male human return, that should give you enough time. Choose as many things as you can from the list and attempt to get them done while keeping the baby close to you and content at all times:   

Vehicle

  • Take the car to a mechanic, there’s something wrong with the clutch. 
  • Take the car to be cleaned, it’s disgusting how dirty it is. 

House

  • Clean out the fridge, there are a lot of rotting leftovers in there.
  • Go grocery shopping, there’s nothing left in the fridge. 
  • Unpack the food and re-organise the kitchen. 
  • Prepare dinner in advance, young humans will be hungry when they get home. 
  • Unload the dishwasher, load the dishwasher.
  • Do another load of the laundry, the laundry basket’s full.
  • Put away the dry clothes.
  • Store away the clothes that children have outgrown.
  • Tidy up the house, it’s a mess.
  • Recycle. 
  • Pay the bills.
  • The rooms need to be re-painted. Contact the painter and decorator.
  • Choose the colour pattern for the rooms. Buy the paint.
  • Print out new family photos and hang them up.
  • Sew the buttons on the male human’s jacket.

Dog

  • Walk the dog.
  • Feed the dog.
  • Order more dog food.
  • The vet needs to check whether the dog’s deaf, senile or depressed. Organise an appointment.
  • Walk the dog again.

Children. 

  • The baby needs to get vaccinated. Organise an appointment. 
  • The girl needs her teeth checked. Organise an appointment. 
  • The boy needs his eyesight checked. Organise an appointment.
  • The girl and the boy need a haircut. Organise an appointment.
  • Remember to cut their fingernails and toenails in the evening.
  • Read about baby development. Come up with a plan to get the baby to eat more solids. 
  • Organise playdates for the children. 
  • Organise learning opportunities for the baby. 
  • Plan fun activities for the weekend.

Relationship

  • Create space and time for the male human and you to talk properly about things other than the human children.
  • Make sure you and the male human still connect romantically.
  • Plan to go out with the male human, spend quality time together, but make it spontaneous.
  • Organise a babysitter.

Friends

  • Invite friendly humans over. Think about what you need to prepare.
  • Organise to go out with human friends, you shouldn’t spend all the time at home. 
  • Plan a fun activity to do with human friends. Dinner? Drinks? Concert? Theatre?
  • Organise a babysitter. 

Other

  • Start planning Christmas holidays. 
  • Book a skiing holiday. 
  • Buy a birthday gift for a friend. 
  • Buy birthday gifts for friends’ kids. 
  • Buy birthday gifts for kids’ friends.
  • Call humans to thank them for the gifts. 

You

  • Take a shower, you smell bad.
  • Eat more healthy food, drink more water, eat fewer sweets. You’re getting fat. 
  • Work out.
  • Take care of your skin, you’re getting old.
  • Dress better, you need to look presentable. Don’t buy any clothes until you’ve lost some weight.
  • Feel guilty for not working while on maternity leave, you’re so lazy. 

It’s now 15:00, your time’s up! Some days you’ll get a lot done, some days you’ll get nothing done. Regardless of how much you achieve, you’ll feel like you haven’t done enough.

Afternoon activities

Pick the girl up from school, pick the boy up from kindergarten. The male human gets back from work by himself. The baby will be fidgety and irritable by now, there’s too much going on for him. Put him down for a nap. The older humans will be tired and grumpy, have understanding for the fact that they had a long day. Take them out to the park, buy them an ice-cream, talk to them about their day. Be supportive when they complain, smile at their funny stories, remember their friends’ names. Ask them questions, don’t ask them too many questions. Be interested, but not intrusive. 

Bedtime routine

It’s almost bedtime. Serve dinner, give all young humans a bath, help them get their pyjamas on, read them a story, have they brushed their teeth yet? Kiss them goodnight. Put the baby down for the night as well. 

Use a couple of hours before the baby wakes up again to connect with the male human. Be kind and gentle and empathic. Don’t get into arguments, don’t shout, don’t hold grudges, don’t throw objects at the male human. You can watch a film together. It would be nice if you massaged his feet. 

Go to bed. While lying there, use the time to worry about all the things you didn’t manage to do today and about all of those you should’ve done better. Think about your mistakes. 

Were you impatient with the girl when she complained about her shoes being too tight? Did you zone out when the boy talked in detail about a cartoon he watched? Did the baby get enough tummy time? You dragged him with you to all these shops and appointments, did you ignore him too much? Were you kind enough to the male human? Were you empathic and thoughtful enough in your conversations? Were you polite enough to strangers you were in contact with? Did you call your mother? Did you message your friends? You should really try to keep in touch regularly. 

Add a few points to the mental list for tomorrow:

  • Try harder at being a good mother
  • Try harder at being a good wife
  • Try harder at being a good friend
  • Try harder at being a good human

By the time you finish worrying and feeling guilty, it will be time to go to sleep. Close your eyes for a few minutes before the baby starts crying. Feed him, sleep for a couple of hours, start all over again. 

The future

We’ll upgrade you to the next level in about a year – a female human as a working mother. You’ll continue with all the tasks from level one, but you’ll also go to get to work for eight hours a day. That’s something to get excited about, isn’t it? 

Close your eyes now and brace yourself. This won’t be painful. Don’t worry, you are now perfectly equipped to start your time on Earth as a female human on maternity leave. You’ll see for yourself, it’s very straightforward.

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