My whole perspective on life changed when I was on maternity leave.
If you’ve been working for most of your adult life, you may, like me, find having time off from work to be both scary and exciting.
It’s fair to say I’m a career driven person. A large part of my identity is formed by my career achievements and future aspirations.
I was worried about who I would become if I didn’t have my work, if I didn’t have those adult conversations, or those career goals ticked off.
But then after a few weeks of maternity leave, things changed.
I began to relax.
I began to enjoy the simple things in life such as going for a walk in the fresh air, admiring teeny tiny newborn clothes or reading a good book in the sun.
And then the biggest change came when I gave birth to my baby.
Suddenly, my identity changed, my priorities changed, and I wondered who this career woman was that I was trying to hold onto.
In actual fact, I began to recognise my actual self and I started to form the person who I wanted to be.
The self I was when I was growing up, before I was studying, before my working life, came to the forefront. As did my desire to be the best mum I could.
I suddenly became interested again in hobbies that I’d let go because of my study or work. Hobbies such as writing and drawing.
I discovered new interests I didn’t know I had. Interests such as being a mum.
I bonded with other new mums who I never imagined I would be friends with.
Maternity leave is all about devoting your time to your new role as a mum, and discovering what kind of mum you want to be. But it is also so much more… it is about rediscovering who you really are.
Here are my top ten tips on how to make the most of your maternity leave.
Before bub arrives, take some time to spoil yourself.
Get a mani/pedi. Get your hairs did. Get a facial, a body scrub, or your legs waxed. Just sit and enjoy being pampered while you think about all the wonderous things that are about to happen to your life.
Also, you might not have too many opportunities to do this again over the next few months.
2. Learn something new
Have you always wanted to learn something but never had the time?
If you’re able to take some leave off before bub arrives, you may find that you’ll become ‘bored’ towards the end as you wait for bub to arrive. Why not take this opportunity to learn some new skills?
I was finishing off some uni at the time, but afterwards I enrolled in a nude drawing course (the one where you peer through someone’s window waiting for them to get undressed… okay joking!). Other ideas could be joining a book club, or attending a writing course, or even doing a cooking class or make up lessons.
Three months after bub was born I created this blog. Why? Because I needed a creative outlet (see next point) and blogging was entirely new to me even though I used to love writing as a teenager. Why not take the plunge I thought to myself? What’s the worst that can happen? So I did… and whola, Canberra Mummy was born.
3. Re-discover a passion
This point is my favourite.
I was very lucky to give birth to a very contented and relaxed little boy, and the same time I was so utterly overwhelmed by my motherly emotions towards my son. That protectiveness. That worry. That love.
This recipe of time and emotions meant I had the opportunity to create this blog within four months of giving birth. I had re-discovered my passion for creative writing that had been inadvertently squashed by the academic reports for university and court reports for work.
I had all these emotions that I just needed to tell the world about. So I created this blog as a means of sharing my experiences with other mums.
4. Find a hidden passion
For many mums, they are passionate about their role as a mum. I had it, and you may very well have it too.
For many other mums on maternity leave they also discover hidden passions for health, fitness and wellbeing (this happens a lot when we have kids) and helping other mums. I have many friends who have turned their lives around while on maternity leave going from largely sedentary lifestyles to health and fitness junkies. It’s so wonderful to see so many mumma’s re-defining their identities.
So if you have something that you’re ‘interested’ in, do some more researching, join some clubs, make friends in this area and see where it takes you.
5. Take yourself on a date
This is so important! I wish I did more of this with my first maternity leave but I felt so self-indulgent at the time it sort of scared me.
This time around I’ve been taking myself and my kindle on dates to KoKo Black, Adore Tea, and I’m thinking of taking myself to the movies before bub 2 arrives.
6. Get a preggy massage
Again, I wish I did more of this with my first maternity leave. This is the ultimate way for me to relax, particularly as I get to the pointy end of the pregnancy when nerves are high about the birth.
So far I’m counting four pregnancy massages in the last month. Yes, I’m greedy. Yes, I’m self-indulgent. And yes, it is all covered my health insurance.
I strongly recommend getting this done (contact me for the name of an awesome massage place in Canberra)!
7. Earn money
Now, this is a controversial point.
About four months after I gave birth I created this blog. Why? Because I wanted to document everything about my overwhelming experience as a new mum. After six months I wanted more so I started setting the foundations for monetisation. I hoped that it would earn me enough money to not go back to work, but it didn’t, and in retrospect, that was a good thing. But I was able to earn a bit of passive income, which was really helpful when the maternity leave runs out and you’re living off one income before you return to work.
Many of my friends have found other means of earning money through network marketing type ventures. I’m talking Tupperware, Arbonne, Isogenix, DoTerra. There are some great work from home businesses out there that are giving mums extra money on maternity leave or even earning them some seriously big cash (if you want the deets on this, email me and I’ll give you my contacts).
8. Create new social networks
Now my last point is probably the most important – this is a must for new mums.
As daunting as it is to put yourself out there, if you’re socially shy then you need to swallow your insecurities and get.yourself.out.there!
If I, as an introverted stutterer, can do it, so can you!
Go to play dates if you’re invited. Go to mother’s groups. Put a call out on social media (forums or your own personal page) asking for meet ups. Start your own mums group. Go to baby exercise, craft and music classes and ask a mum on a date. Yes it is nerve-racking asking another mum for her phone number, but I guarantee she is in the same boat as you and is debating whether she should ask you for your phone number.
The most important way to make the most of your maternity leave is to simply enjoy it.
If you don’t want to do any of these things and just sit at home with your bub, that is perfect too! Being on maternity leave is such a privileged and one that many other people around the world don’t have.
Make the most of it by following these tips or just be with your bub… either way, do it your way and love every minute x
Have any more tips on what to do on maternity leave? Please share…
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