My 9-month maternity leave is drawing to an end. I’m back to work in less than a week. I’m looking forward to it with a mixutre of excitment and apprehension. I like working, and I always have. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and with the jobs I’ve chosen I know I’m making a difference in the grand scheme of things. I also love being a Mum and I’ve loved being with little dude every day. I love seeing him grow and develop. I’m concerned though on how he will settle without me, and how he will cope without being breastfed during the day. I’m going back full-time so he’s doing 2 days nursery and 3 days grandparents.
This post is a way for me to take stock of my maternity leave, and also for those mums who don’t quite yet realise the potential of their maternity leave yet to get some inspiration. Yes, primarily mat leave is looking after your child and you are glued to them the whole time. It’s also a good way to find out what makes you tick, get involved in things you wouldn’t normally, change your career and make lasting connections.
Below is a list of the major things that happened during my mat leave.
Gave birth and kept my baby alive
This is obviously most important one. I had a c-section and recovered from that while simultaneously keeping a small little baby alive. I can’t keep a plant alive (I forget they exist, forget to water it and they die) so the fact I’ve kept a baby alive for nearly 9 months is an actual miracle! Little dude is the most amazing, happy, challenging dude I have the pleasure of knowing, parenting and loving. He is a total ray of sunshine in my life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been BLOODY hard, and I may have not cherished every minute of it (poo fountain comes to mind), but I love the little dude so much that I don’t care that sometimes it hasn’t been all fluffy clouds and marshmellows.
Gone to more baby classes than I knew existed
Ah, the baby classes. I feel this is a rite of way during mat leave and my goodness did we go for it. We did a new parents course, baby massage, baby sensory, baby carrier dancing, and baby swimming. Baby sensory and baby swimming were my favs. Baby sensory because there’s quite a bit to stimulate little dude and he totally loves it. We go swimming with big dude and it’s great bonding time for the family. We’re planning on keeping up the swimming classes while I’m back to work.
Got closer to my Mum
I think there’s a saying along the lines of becoming a mum makes you understand yours better. This is certainly true. I’m very independent and don’t like depending on people if I can help it. I’ve never needed my Mum as much as I have since I became a parent. It’s made our relationship stronger and little dude completely dotes on her. Great for me as I get a break!
Strengthen existing relationships
Mat leave gave me the time to spend with my family and friends. I may have had little dude in tow the whole time but the time we had made our bonds stronger.
Obviously it’s changed mine and big dude’s relationship forever. We been on this nuts journey together. We laughed, cried, screamed at each other and together but wouldn’t have it any other way.
I strangely get on really well with my in-laws and without them I would not have made it through mat leave in one piece! They’ve listened to me moan, helped around the house and been there when I needed.
Found my #mumsquad
I’d moved to my area a couple of years back but didn’t know anyone local to me. My NCT group not working out left me feeling alone and isolated when I became a new mum. Thank god for Mush. I have raved about this before, and totally a complete keeno when it comes to advocating them but I would not made the friends I have if not for that app. We meet up, go to classes, have afternoon tea, have days out, and keep each other sane. The best thing is I am not friends with these people simply because we were thrown together or that they live close, I’m friends with them because we get on, and we have things in common other than kids to chat about.
Mush allowed me to organise meetups with local new mums in the same boat. I’d like to say we formed a group that met up regularly but we didn’t. It did give me something to do on Wednesday afternoons over the summer, and I have made good friends from it. However, it did make me realise that I like organising and hosting events.
Started bullet journaling
I love my bullet journal. I know it’s a glorified notebook but the method and community define it and provide so much inspiration on how to be more productive and content. The best thing I found was my gratitude log. I love looking back on this and only being reminded of the postitives. It really works on making you happier with life.
Got a new job
I got made redundant on maternity leave but I also knew that I didn’t want to go back to my old job. I managed to job search, prep for interviews and bag a job while little dude was 5 months old. Not bad going. My bullet journal was invaluable in helping me do this. I’m going to start writing a few posts on how I’ve used it to job hunt so keep your eyes peeled for them if you’re in the same position.
Volunteered at start-ups in my spare time
I’ve always been career orientated and the fear of forgetting how to work, and wanting to change jobs propelled me to get off my arse and email a load of parenting start-up apps to loan out my skills. Some replied, most didn’t, and I did a little work for one. It made me realise that I actually like my current skillset and have the confidence I won’t forget how to use it when I go back to work. It also taught me despite me knowing I have a good set of skills, I’m pretty bad at pitching them. So that’s on my list of things to work on. Totally showed me that you create your own opportunities as well. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so it’s worth sending out a few emails and seeing what comes back.
Uhhh I should say getting fit but got fit sounds better! I found a local fitness group and started getting involved in that. I’ve never been the fittest (I was in set 3 for P.E. at school, and no I can not believe they put us in sets!!!) but I know I have to keep fit. It makes me feel happier and clear headed when I have a work out.
I’ve always wanted to blog but never had anything to blog about. Becoming a parent provided me the perfect springboard for this to happen.
Maternity leave can be so much more than raising a child. It is life defining in many ways. At the end of day it’s what you make it.