Full disclosure: when I found out I was pregnant with my first born I sat with my bestfriend and cried. I had a game-plan, and a baby was not in it (for the foreseeable future, anyway). I was devastated that my kick-ass, social, fun life was effectively at an end right at that moment (what do you mean I’m not allowed to drink while pregnant??), and I had no say over it. Stupid pregnancy.
Lucky for me I was wrong, and I’m going to tell you why. Please note that these are my experiences, and I know that there are all forms of horribleness (yes, that is a good word, isn’t it?) that can happen to negate the happiness of bringing a baby home. But I am very lucky and this wasn’t my reality. So, how did I make maternity leave my most favouritest (yep- there’s another great word for you- I should write my own dictionary) of years?? Read on, I promise not to make it too dull, and I have put it in list form for ease of perusal (just to show you that I do know some proper words and stuff).
- Haters Gonna Hate. Ignore them (and don’t be one). Mums can be horrid to each other. People without kids can be horrid to mums. It can feel like you’re under attack wherever you go (online and off). Just let it pass, understand that everyone’s perspective is different and you are doing what works for you. And don’t join in the hating! Be supportive, of each other and our parenting choices. And call me a mummy blogger and I will disown you.
- Go to the movies during the day when you’re on mat-leave, before the baby comes. Take a pillow. Take up 5 seats (trust me, in your state it will still feel squishy), lie across them, and rest on your pillow. Ensure you have lots of snack foods with you (lots). On a side note- you can fairly comfortably take bub to the movies until they are about 4 weeks old and no-one need ever know. Wear them in a sling and they will sleep right through it.
- Embrace the nesting. It’s a great way to organise your home and make you feel like the queen of cleanliness (I wish it lasted longer!).
- Get out as soon as you can after the baby’s born (I mean get out of the house, to a cafe, or whatever. I don’t mean get out of the whole parenting thing- sorry to say but you’re stuck here. Which, incidentally, coming to terms with was one of the parts I found hardest at the beginning).
- Join a mum’s group. Saved my sanity. Yes- other people are going through the same thing as you are! See them regularly. I needn’t have worried on that first day when I cried to my bestie, I was about to have the most social year of my life (and would be sober enough to remember it!).
- Try and leave the house once a day. Find out what’s on in your area and make plans. And back up plans. I’m talking baby swim classes, library story time, paint and play, baby-friendly movie sessions, music classes, hippy toddler dance class, everything and anything.
- But… to totally negate my point above, don’t try and do too much. Say no to invitations. Stay home if it is getting you too worked up trying to get out of the house. Watch TV for a day instead.
- Turn off the TV! (I’m sounding a bit contradictory, aren’t I?) Don’t watch TV all day, because you’ll feel gross and depressed. Also, this means that when you do watch telly (on days like the one above), you won’t feel guilty at all and can just enjoy the glory that is bad daytime TV.
- Put the radio on when your partner leaves the house, and leave it on all day. You can become great friends with the presenters, and it connects you to the outside world (man I wish The Doctor and Louis would leave JJJ!)
- Clean twice a day, during nap time and after they go to bed. But only for 10 mins. This allows you to keep on top of the basics so you feel like you live in a lovely peaceful home, but isn’t so long that you feel like you spend your whole life cleaning (that comes later, in the toddler years). Oh, and embrace storage. And Ikea.
- Get connected to social media. Check FB, read blogs, make online friends who have bubs. I love the 3am chat when you’re all up and realise – once again – that you’re not alone.
- Use your time away from work to think about what it is you really want. Are you in the right profession? Great! Is there something you’ve always been passionate about, but haven’t focussed on? Maternity leave is amazing for giving you the headspace away from work to decide what’s right for you.
- Apologise to your friends for bailing on them, but don’t feel too guilty about it. If they are good friends (and luckily mine are), they will put up with your flakiness, keep inviting you to things (even if you never come) and will wait for you to come out of the baby fog.
- Keep your baby in their pyjamas all day if you want to. Even if you go out- especially in winter. Onesies are cute, and they can only wear them for a certain amount of time (20-30 years in todays’ fashion).
- And finally, live at cafes while you can. Meet other mums there, or go by yourself and drink coffee for hours while your baby sleeps peacefully in their pram. You have about 4-6 months until it becomes too painful to go anymore.
So there you go, not an exhaustive list but pretty bloody detailed. Let me know if you have anything to add. After all, I have a whole three weeks to go until my maternity leave is over- I’m willing to embrace new ideas!!