How to Have a Happy Maternity Leave... No, Really, How?S

Today, U.S. News & World Report offers "7 strategies for a successful maternity leave." All 12 unpaid weeks of it, if you're American. Woohoo.

Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio, authors of Happy at Work, Happy at Home: The Girl's Guide to Being a Working Mom (you know, I'm usually agnostic on the issue of calling grown women "girls," but that is kind of a disturbing title), told U.S. News the keys to a happy mat leave are as follows: Research your leave options ("even before becoming pregnant"); make sure your responsibilities are covered while you're away; plan to go incommunicado during the first few weeks, when you're stunned and sleep-deprived; keep in touch with the office after that; find good child care; make your commitment to the job clear once you're back; and then help other moms-to-be navigate the system.

It all sounds like pretty sensible advice, but much of it is easier said than done. Finding good child care, for instance: "It can take six months of researching daycare facilities and interviewing nannies to find the right one, so Friedman recommends starting early." And that's assuming you can afford "the right one," whichever one that turns out to be after your six months of research and interviews. Meanwhile, demonstrating your continued commitment to the job is a matter of overcoming stereotypes about distractable new mommies, something an individual can only control so much: "Everyone is going to be looking at you really closely, consciously or unconsciously, to see if you're the same person you were before you left to have a baby." NO PRESSURE.

Having said that, I'm not a mom, so it's not like I have anything more useful to add. Jezzies, how about you? Got any tips for surviving those first few glorious weeks of total upheaval and no income?

7 Strategies For A Successful Maternity Leave [U.S. News]