Teacher Tips for Preparing for Maternity Leave

You’re almost ready! The baby is coming soon, and you’re tired but excited to get everything ready for your new addition at home. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of preparation that needs to be done at school as well. Getting ready for your maternity leave can be very stressful!

If you follow me on Facebook, then you probably saw my BIG announcement! My husband and I are super excited to be expecting baby number FIVE! Wowzers!

I know how hard it is to focus on work when you are pregnant. It's like my sweet little baby has completely sucked my brain right out of my head! All I can think about is car seat safety rankings and baby nursery decor.

I also know how hard it is to be a long-term substitute. Prior to becoming a full-time teacher I was a substitute for many years. I had the opportunity to substitute for many new mommies. I had some awesome long-term jobs and some that I couldn't wait to be over.

I thought I would combine a my mommy and substitute experience to put together some tips for preparing for your maternity leave. I hope these help you to get focused and prepared so that you can truly enjoy your new little addition!

Utilize other classroom teachers.

Let other grade level teachers know when your leave is and ask to use their lesson plans. Make extra copies to share with your substitute. Most colleagues are very understanding, especially if they’ve been through the leave process and having children. Offer to take over some of the load when you return. 

If you don’t have another teacher in your grade level, check out my grade level teacher groups. These communities allow you to interact with other teachers and find a tribe to support you! So many amazing ideas, tips and resources are shared every day.

Talk to your admin.

Every school/district has different expectations for how much a teacher must prep for a leave.

At my school, we were expected to loosely lesson plan for the entire leave and do the photo copying. I have heard of other schools that only require a week of lesson planning.

It is a good idea to find out early what will be required. You don't want to be surprised late into your pregnancy!

Arrange a sub weeks (or months) in advance.

Do not wait until the last minute to find a substitute teacher. Slots fill up fast, and great long term subs can be hard to secure. 

Ask your colleagues or other teachers in the district for recommendations for long term subs or request someone you may have had in the past. Even districts that do not allow you to request specific subs for short term absences typically encourage prearrangement and requests for maternity leave substitutes.

If possible, invite your substitute into the classroom so that she can observe your class. It gives you a chance to model your procedures and show her around your classroom.

Batch your maternity leave planning.

Don't plan on doing all of the lesson planning in just one weekend! That will really stress you out.

Instead, schedule a little time into your weekly schedule starting in your second trimester. Use this time to do planning and photo copying in batches. For example, spend a couple of weeks prepping math centers. Then spend a couple of weeks getting a writing unit prepped.

Rather than working week-to-week, save time by prepping a subject at a time for the entire leave.

Don't forget to think about holidays that will happen during your leave!

Keep your lesson plans and materials organized.

This is a good tip for any teacher but especially for those going on leave. Organizing your files and lesson plans to make them easier for your guest teacher to find and use will make your life a whole lot easier when you return. 

Make the copies you know your sub will need for your leave. Make copies early (for before your due date) in case your bundle makes an early appearance. Filing your copies into weekly folders and having daily drawers set up for your sub will make the experience more pleasant for them. 

They may even want to come back and sub when you have well-child checks or need to stay home with your infant after returning to work!

Don't forget the basics.

Your substitute will need lots of information in order to effectively run your classroom!

Things you may want to leave:
Class Roster
Allergies and medical concerns
Daily schedule
Specials schedule
Duty schedule
Passwords (for teacher computer and sites and for students)
Calendar of important dates (meetings, field trips, holidays, etc.)

Make a little packet and leave it in a binder or folder for your substitute. She will thank you later!

Would you like to use my FREE editable templates? #woohoo Click on the picture below to download!

Be flexible but firm when you return.

Know that even if your sub is wonderful, it’s not the same as having you in the classroom. Whether you take your leave at the start of the year or after 100 days of school, your kids will have an adjustment period when you return. Your guest teacher may have stricter or more lenient behavior expectations. 

When you return from your leave, share pictures of your baby, tell your kids about your family, but act like it’s the first day of school again. Praise positive behaviors and correct poor choices before they become habits. Review expectations and model them with your students. Check out THESE fun free activities for reviewing procedures. You could prep them before you go out on leave!

Following these teacher tips for preparing for maternity leave will help you focus on the most important thing during your time off: taking care of your child and yourself. Your students will be fine, but know that having that special bonding time with your child is the number one priority. Don’t worry about emails or phone calls. Let them pile in your inbox and go to voicemail. This is the time for you and your family! Congrats!