The Naïve Dream: This is my 2nd time on maternity leave. The 1st time I naively planned too much to do. I was to write that novel. I was going to start my own business, I was going to join the gym and finally get back into those size 10 jeans that have been in my cupboard since I was 17, and I was going to ‘find myself’! It’s hilarious when you think about it! *cringes*
The Reality Check: I returned to work after 10 months. Three years later here I am again and I still have a wish list, it’s just more realistic! We all know we don’t ever actually get ‘me’ time anymore and it’s even more rare with a newborn AND a toddler to look after, but I’m learning to time manage.
Time Management: Time is precious. My toddler goes to nursery 3 days a week. I know my toddler is getting the stimulation and education she needs at nursery, which I can’t give her at the moment with a newborn. These 3 ‘golden days’ are rigorously routined to make sure I make the most out of my time.
Of course, apart from the feeding, the bathing, the tummy time and everything else that comes with a newborn, it is possible to find some ‘me’ time.
- Turn the TV on – If the TV goes on then before I know it I’m a Loose Woman sat eating a bowl of Coco Pops and there’s a couch with my name on it. 5pm would arrive and I would have entered 3 competitions to win a car, voted on which anti- wrinkle cream do I think is the best value for money and watched a group of jobless adulterers with no teeth fight about who slept with the dog…
- Do a Big Clean – I would spend whole days sorting out clothes, cleaning cupboards nobody goes in and tidying random drawers that nobody cares about. The truth is that the house will always be untidy with 2 children, so now I just tidy as I go and try not leave everything for one day.
- Go Shopping – I do all my food shopping online, I get milk delivered and anything else I need I pick up either on the way to or from nursery so it’s done before 9am. The thought of walking aimlessly and hopelessly around Sainbury’s trying to remember what I need because I’ve left my shopping list on the kitchen table at home makes me want to cry!
- Read and write – I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to have a multi- million pound book deal in place before I have to go back to work (or ever) but I can take enjoyment from reading and blogging.
- Take pictures – I love photography but don’t often get time to use my camera. Editing takes sooo long and also filing them, saving them and backing them all up. I’m currently organising over 3,000 images I have of the family into photo books *collapses*
- Get to a toddler group – To be honest I’m not a great fan. I do like the odd get together with other like- minded mums and dads but with a newborn I sometimes find it more trouble than it’s worth. I occasionally attend one with my newborn and toddler on non-nursery day but I’m not sure yet if I attend out of guilt or whether any of us actually gain from it. When time is precious you’ve got to be picky. I don’t want to talk about piles and nipple cream. I want my company to be worthwhile and first and foremost a benefit to my kids.
I’ve learned that there’s no more waiting for a ‘quiet time’ or for a ‘clear’ week in the calendar because something will always crop up to fill in that time. I have to make time for small achievable goals because before I know it I’ll be back at my office desk wishing I was back on maternity leave!