In the throes of that enchanted fog called pregnancy I was sure of a couple of things about impending motherhood. One I would be okay with the early mornings as I regularly chose to get up before 6 am (I know, what was I thinking?). Two, maternity leave would be so easy seeing as I was already used to spending my days alone working from home. Oh how I laugh about the naivety of those thoughts now.
Who knew that so much of my confidence was wrapped up in what I did for a living? Pre baby I may have been used to working alone, but I was also used to positive feedback and feeling competent for around 90% of the day.
Aside from being able to dedicate a whole post or maybe even a book as to why being an early riser is not the same things as having to get up at 5 am forever, my rude awakening about maternity leave was even more of a shock. While I knew being at home with a baby wasn’t going to be endless fun what I hadn’t factored in was the loss of my self-esteem. Who knew that so much of my confidence was wrapped up in what I did for a living? Pre baby I may have been used to working alone, but I was also used to positive feedback and feeling competent for around 90% of the day.
My new life seemed to be totally illogical. I was always busy but got nothing done. I had all this time but some days couldn’t even make it into the shower.
Now suddenly I was home alone with a baby from the early hours till late at night, with a routine Gina Ford would have fainted at the sight of. Not only was I unsure what to do but also it was tough work. My child was an infant who didn’t like being in a pram or car seat and she didn’t like to sleep but like all babies she liked to be held CONSTANTLY all of which meant our days were long. Also my new life seemed to be totally illogical. I was always busy but got nothing done. I had all this time but some days couldn’t even make it into the shower.
The light-bulb moment came when I was replaying all this to a friend who doesn’t have kids. She said something so obvious I nearly kissed her: “Maybe maternity leave isn’t just about having a new baby but also about making the adjustment to motherhood.” Obvious and yet I hadn’t really thought of it. So now with two maternity leaves under my belt (and plenty of adjusting still having to be done) here’s how I learnt to love maternity leave without losing it.
Enjoy the comforting predictability of your days
Yes it often feels a bit like Groundhog Day but maternity leave is also short and so enjoy sitting around in your PJs and watching TV without rushing to get the day started.
Get a sense of accomplishment from the small things
Whether it’s getting out of the house, getting your baby into a routine of sorts or seeing how many smiles of pleasure you can get from your baby in a morning.
Embrace social media
Not only is this your ticket to the outside world but it also saved my life in the lonely hours of the 3am feed (though equally I am sure my friends were aghast at how often I posted baby pictures and updates on Facebook).
If you’re lonely don’t pretend not to be
Whenever you’re out pounce on other mums you like the look of, and force them to be friends with you. I beg-friended two women I’m still very close too.
Remember sleep deprivation is linked to torture
It’s this not motherhood that pushes you to the lowest of lows and distorts your sense of what’s happening in your life. If you’ve had a bad night/week/month remember it will get better so give yourself a break.
Enjoy it while you can
Everything changes and really fast when you have kids. This means enjoy it while you can, because one day you really wish for the time you could ignore the washing, your hair and even work and spend all the hours with your child.