7 Ways to Prepare for Maternity Leave

Maternity Leave

To be quite honest, I never imagined myself having children this young, or this early in my career. After all, I only graduated from college about five years ago and am still a "newbie" to teaching.  
But hey.. sometimes fun, little blessings come in the form of BIG surprises :)

So here I am, 4 weeks postpartum, and wanting to share with you, our little teaching community, 7 ways to prepare for maternity leave. Why? Because honestly, aside from this one amazing blogpost from the lovely Miss De Carbo, there are not many posts about preparing for maternity leave. AND friends, let me just tell you, if you think preparing for a sick day is hard, you are kidding yourself! 
I would have gone crazy if I had not followed these 7 simple steps. 

In the Photo: My Husband :)

1. Walk in Grace.
May I offer some help advice/ thoughts... 
If you are super pregnant, ready to be done, your students are driving you crazy & your feet are so swollen that it hurts to walk up & down the hallways to drop your kids off for lunch/ recess, it's ok to say enough. I know how you feel and I know what you are going through!
 Just a word of encouragement, give yourself grace. 
Grace for extra copies, grace for random pee trips (tmi?), grace for being annoyed because you really don't want to be at school listening to all the complaining and whining, grace to say NO to staying late after school for random PTA meetings, staff meetings and long parent conferences (yes, I sat through about 30 of these & about lost my mind, y'all- I was over it) and grace to say, I just need to take a break.
Photo: Pinterest 

2. Maternity Sub Binder
I do not have a picture of my maternity sub binder because I was in such a rush towards the end of planning due to Christmas break. However, I will be very honest and tell you that there are not many long-term sub binders that do your long-term justice. 
I purchased Kelly McHaffie "Long Term Substitute Binder" which is editable on Teacher Pay Teachers. However, I only used a few items from her binder and had to create several of my own pages too. I had to add more for my own classroom because I was required for my sub to have more data, more passwords, more information etc. than a typical primary classroom.  
Side Note: I am currently completing my own to add to my TPT store soon that is geared towards upper elementary. I'll update the blog as soon as it is ready. For now check out Kelly's binder! :) 
Photo: Kelly McHaffie Long- Term Sub Binder

A few basics you need in a maternity sub binder:
*Class Checklist
Class Jobs & Class Lists
*Daily Schedule and Weekly Overview
* Class procedures, routines, and exceptions
*Student Information 
 I wrote one full page for each student’s academics and behavior. 
I also included parent phone numbers.... just in case :)
*School Information
Drills, phone numbers, maps, campus information
*Classroom Behavior and Positive Reinforcement procedures
** Note: I use Whole Brain Teaching strategies in my classroom, which you can read about here. However, I learned very quickly THIS DOES NOT WORK for a sub. The sub does have the extensive training that I have had so I had to plan for a different strategy. Some recommendations are Class Dojo or a Daily Planner/ Behavior Checks with daily parent signatures. Subs MUST have a daily routine in place. Do not expect them to just pick up your strategies-what works for you, may not work for them.
*Calendar, Scope and Sequence, TEKS Standards and topics to teach for each month
*Week by Week Lesson Plans
*I type all of my lesson plans in Google Drive.
 I use Meg's New Box of Crayon's Google Drive Lesson Plan Templates found here.
*Websites and Passwords
I Station, Education Galaxy, Safari Montage, Connect Ed, Social Studies Weekly
*Photo Tour

3.  Filing Crates + Hanging Folders
I used these crates & added a little fabric to each crate to help organize SS/ ELA / Reading. You can find similar crates here.  The hanging folders hold Day to Day lessons/ papers. I made copies for each student (this takes weeks to do so start early) and organized by each day. You can get similar hanging folders here. 

This is not new here, but I wish someone would have told me how to organize. I'm so thankful for the insta post by Thoughts in Third/ Target Teachers
Her colored clips to sort different subjects was exactly what I needed to see! I also just used regular, old rubber bands to section off large amounts of work. I know, genius lol
Photo: My awesome iPhone photo because 39 weeks pregnant.. you  don't care how the picture looks ha!

4. Ask for Help.
My teammates are my biggest advocates & have been the biggest help the last several days/ weeks.
I waited too long to ask for help, thinking I could handle everything on my own. But your teammates are your biggest supporters as a new teacher walks into your classroom. I might not have needed  help, but what I failed to realize is that my future sub was going to need my team a lot more than I had even realized. Looking back at it all, I have realized I need more help now than I did preparing for leave. Don't be ashamed to admit you can't do it all and just ask for help. 
Photo: Google Images

5. A Sweet Little Treat
Your long-term substitute has the HARDEST job in education. Your sub has to come in, middle of the year, figure out student names, seat spots, review random lesson plans that you wrote, figure out your passwords to access every technology plan you created (because this is the 21st century classroom & no one uses paper anymore), figure out your entire schedule Monday- Friday, insert grades, communicate with parents and overall- step in your shoes for several weeks. 
Your substitute is doing you the biggest favor in the world. 
Can we be real for a second- don't forget he/she does not have to be there, in your classroom, dealing with the crazy..... And she deserves a little something sweet. I left for leave during the Christmas holiday, so I gave my substitute a gold- wire basket (Target Dollar Spot) filled with lots of goodies and gift cards. I filled her basket with Starbucks Drinks, Chocolates, Gift Cards to Sonic & Starbucks as well as a Bath & Body Works Mini "Stress Relief Kit" w/ hand sanitizer, body lotion and candle. 
Photo: Similar idea on Instagram from Target Teachers. So Precious.


6. Take a Few Days Off to Prepare for Baby
I am so thankful I did this. I ended up on bed rest one week before I was schedule to have baby via C-Section... and let me tell you, I am so thankful for being able to rest. I was so stressed at school with holiday prep, crazy behaviors and being 38 weeks pregnant that I just needed to rest. Trust me when I say, you need the rest to prepare for baby .....because we all know that newborns don't sleep :)
Photo: Google Images

7. Enjoy Maternity Leave
This is probably the hardest part to even write because as great educators, we care about our students. But let me just say, maternity leave is incredible.
Gif: The Office Memes 
I love cuddling my precious newborn, wearing pjs all day & not worrying about a single email or assignment. 
It's just so beautiful.. I may not even go back...JK :)

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