My Do’s & Don’ts of Maternity Leave

 

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.

I DON’T:

  • 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!

I DO….

  • 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!

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A Strategy for Maternity Leave

A Strategy for Maternity Leave
A Strategy for Maternity Leave

So, my maternity leave started four whole weeks before my due date. It was the first time I would have had a year off working since I left college in 1998. A whole year away from office banter, clocking in, emails about how my pension was diminishing the older I got, colleagues bitching about ‘her’ in finance, and meetings with toffee nosed graduates in suits, I was ecstatic!

I strategically planned the next 12 months with precision.

I was going to change my life so that I didn’t have to go back to work, and my plan looked a bit like this…

table 1
Table 1: Project task for achieving ‘Not Going Back to Work’. (See appended spreadsheet for Preliminary Indicative Costs)

Task 1 – Write a Book

Projected Outcome – Write a best selling book and make approximately £500k in sales to achieve not going back to work.

Actual Outcome – I decided on a title and the ending…I got ‘writer’s block’ around 4 months into my leave and my brain just stopped thinking. I started to write lists. I wrote lists about lists! I even added things to the list things I’d already done so I could just tick them off.

I did however manage to keep a baby diary for the full term of my pregnancy and I also half completed three ‘Baby’s First Year’ books I received as presents. Task completed.

Task 2 – Start a Business

Projected Outcome – Start Business (work from home) to achieve not going back to work. To elegantly swoon downstairs of a morning for a 9am start, buying and selling, making profit and securing investors into my niche market.

Actual Outcome – Bottles, nappies, playtime, food shopping, cleaning, tidying, walking the dog. I’D CALL THAT WORKING FROM HOME! Task completed.

Task 3 –Learn a New Language

Projected Outcome – Again…elegantly swoon into a French Patisserie in Paris and have a conversation with the locals imbedding myself in local culture and hosting wine tasting evenings from my chateau in Brittany. (Using profits from the book to fund Task 3)

Actual Outcome –  I know what mam, bindy, hiya, abble, yish, all gog, wowo, elloo, fshhh, botbot, barf, all mean without a translator or baby language dictionary. Expert in baby language. Task completed.

Task 4 – De- Clutter (have a ‘big sort’)

Projected Outcome – De-clutter and live by ‘clean house, clean mind’.

Actual Outcome – Got rid of a lot of my stuff and replaced it with bigger baby stuff. Now need extension or move house to store more ‘stuff’. Task completed.

Summary

See? I did achieve everything I set out to achieve, just not in the way I thought I would!

I also managed to keep up my work life routine:

Attended Meetings –  Ante-natal, baby group, health visitor

Met Deadlines –  Feeding, bathtime, bedtime, teatime, naptime, daddy time, me time

Strategically Planned –  Prepared and packed correct items for days out, walks, visiting friends and family.

Finance Management – Budget?  What’s that?

Extra Hours – 24hours with no extra pay or holiday entitlement

Conclusion- My real job? Being a Mum.

My really important job
My really important job

What things did you plan to do on Maternity Leave?

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