Maternity leave is one of those amazing times in life, a year of just you and your baby, a year of cuddles, of coffee dates and lunches.
But for lots of us, me included maternity leave wasn’t everything I expected it to be, especially with my first.
I found it much harder than I expected, I was lonely at times, in pain at first, I cried a lot, I didn’t know what to do and without telling anyone I sometimes missed the old carefree life.
I wouldn’t change my two girls for the world, I’ve decided to stay at home with them now so things have got easier, but I would have loved some tips and honesty in the early days to know that I wasn’t alone. So in the spirit of sharing here are my tips to try and help you enjoy your maternity leave…
Make your house yours.
It’s amazing how much time you’ll suddenly spend in your house. I went from rushing in and out to being there 24/7 and I noticed every imperfection and things started annoying me.
If a wall needs painting, get your family to help, if you have a plain wall that you’re always staring at whilst feeding, try and find a print you like.
It sounds silly but enjoying your surroundings does help the way you feel – the way your mind feels. I suppose it’s kind of like having nice things on your desk at work. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either, I found an amazing mug in Sainsbury’s I loved and do you know what with a baby that didn’t sleep I drank a lot of coffee so there was a lot of enjoyment in that!
Enjoy the cuddles
If it’s your first and you are struggling to get the little one to sleep / they always sleep on you I have one piece of advice. IGNORE THE PEOPLE THAT SAY YOU ARE MAKING A ROD FOR YOUR BACK AND ENJOY IT!
The washing can wait, the dishes can be done later. Those newborn sleepy cuddles really don’t last long and soon you’ll be chasing a toddler around. I also found that second time around I couldn’t have sleepy cuddles with my newborn as I had a toddler to look after. There was a part of me that felt quite sad I had listened to those ‘rod for your own back’ comments with my first, really I should have put my feet up and enjoyed it a little more.
Don’t feel nervous about going out
This sounds weird but hear me out… I spent a lot of time with my first baby saying no to things (coffee’s, driving to peoples houses etc) for fear of her crying, her having a poo explosion, it being difficult and I missed out on a lot.
What I needed to be told then was that everyone else was in the same boat and no one would have cared if she cried.
I wish I had spent more time going to places and making friends.
Ask for help!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help or talk to someone. It can be a massive change being in charge of keeping a little person alive so of course it’ll feel hard at times. There’s lots of support out there to help. I found talking to my Mum, nearly every day a lifeline to staying sane at times, I also leaned on my NCT group and a local Facebook group for friendship and advice.
Go to baby groups
Having company and getting out and about is so important, I have to speak to other people or I go a bit mad!
Your local Mummy Facebook group will be the place to find out about local playgroups, baby classes or activities. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either, there are lots of free groups and do also check to see if you have a Sure Start centre near you as they have been my lifeline recently.
Plan your week
This has been so important for me, especially now with two. I make sure I have a mix of activities, some paid for, some free, to keep us all amused. I feel a bit less lonely if I know I have plans.
Make time for you
When you’re on maternity leave remember to make time for you. Your partner will probably still do things for themselves so why not you. Put aside an hour at the weekend to run, shop, go for a coffee, whatever you enjoy and gives you some needed time. It will really help you feel like you again.
Why not try a home spa? Click here for some ideas of what you could do…
Save some money!
I was a bit silly buying lots of things for the girls when I was on full pay and then suddenly felt the pinch when the pay stopped. So save some for those rainy days so to speak, so you can still treat everyone.
What made your maternity leave easier for you?