6 things I thought I’d do on maternity leave (and didn’t)
I always knew that maternity leave wasn’t going to be a “holiday”, and that having a baby would be a major shock to the system. Having said that, there were still a number of things I thought I was going to achieve during my months at home on mat leave. As it happens, the reality was rather different.
Here are the top six things I had planned.
1. Read ALL the books
For some silly reason, I thought babies napped during the day. A lot. I assumed that this precious nap time would give me hours of blissful, uninterrupted reading pleasure. And look, some babies definitely do sleep. I, however, neglected to tick that box when I placed my order and my baby was never a big napper. In addition, the effort involved in making those naps happen meant that when he did finally crash all I could do was collapse and stare at the ceiling until he woke up.
Sleep deprivation also resulted in my having no concentration whatsoever. As such, watching repeats of Grey’s Anatomy became far more attractive than attempting to read anything other than Where’s Spot? My grand plans of working through my “to-read pile” were quickly shelved – alongside my unread books.
2. Become a domestic goddess
I strongly suspected that the domestic goddess lying dormant within me had only failed to reveal herself, in all her domesticated glory, because she’d never really been given the time to shine. Maternity leave, I thought, would be the perfect opportunity for this shining. I mean how hard could looking after a baby be? With all that free time I’d undoubtedly have, I figured I’d finally discover my inner Masterchef and magically be able to whip up fancy meals (or at least increase my repertoire of spaghetti bolognese and tacos).
Perhaps I’d even discover baking. In the last few months of my pregnancy, I’d watched a friend of mine successfully start up a mat-leave side project making (and selling) fancy, non packet- mix birthday cakes. Looking at the photos she posted on Facebook of these glorious creations, I wondered if I too was harbouring untapped baking potential.
The short answer, as I soon found out, was no. I was not. I can now make a mean carrot puree though. Surely that counts for something?
3. Renovation rescue mission
Given I was going to be at home a lot more than usual, my husband and I decided that it would be the perfect chance to finish off some of the bits and pieces around the house. What I failed to factor in, however, were the challenges of trying to master breastfeeding with strange men walking around, having to answer questions while sleep deprived (resulting in a few questionable decisions), and mess. Extra mess on top of the normal we-have-a-newborn-mess.
Big mistake. Huge. Renovation plans were placed firmly on hold after that.
4. Do coffee
“Oh, we’ll have to Do Coffee!” is something I must have said about 50 times when I was pregnant, assuming that I and mini-me would be swanning across the city catching up with all my friends and colleagues on their lunch breaks.
In reality, it took me a little while to work out the the whole “getting out of the house before lunchtime” thing. And while we figured it out eventually and some lovely, sanity-saving coffee dates did happen, if I’m being honest, most of the Doing Coffee occurred between me and the coffee machine. And mercifully, with the wonderful mums from my mothers’ group, all of whom lived a short pram walk away.
Having heard inspirational stories of mums who’d finally written that novel or started/finished off their PhD while on maternity leave, I figured that I, too, could do a few short courses to stay connected to my industry and keep my brain from completely turning to mush.
I went to one “course” that year: “So your baby’s a cat-napper” at the local early childhood centre. My son scored top marks in that one. I, on the other hand, did not.
6. Master the whole “being a mum” thing before returning to work
Hahaha. Enough said.
By Ariane Beeston
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