Pressure to Do It All on Maternity Leaveby Emma Dowey
When I first became a mum back in 2013, I didn’t really have any “mum friends”. I didn’t know anyone with children. A couple of my friends had kids but they didn’t live locally. Maternity leave was a great opportunity for me to get out, meet other mums and make friends! I couldn’t wait to get to every baby group going! And so I did. I went to every fucking group. Stay and play, music with mummy, massage, sensory. You name it. I was there.
And you know what?
I was bloody exhausted.
Yes, I made some mum friends but it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I “really” made friends. I’d put so much pressure on myself to get out and about and do everything. All the time. Second time around I’m not putting that pressure on myself and I’ll explain why.
Take time for yourself. And be kind to yourself. You just had a baby. You’re probably sore, hormonal and need some time to adjust to life with your little one. Don’t feel pressured to get out and about a minute after you’ve given birth. Yes, some women are up and out, shopping or whatever. Personally, I enjoyed watching daytime TV, the cuddles and having the hubby bring me food!
Groups aren’t the be-all and end-all. Yes it’s nice to go to baby groups but pick one or two a week. You don’t need to fit in loads every day. You can make friends in the most unexpected places – out walking, while shopping or via new apps like Peanut.
Some activities aren’t as relaxing as they sound. Take baby massage as an example. In theory it should be calm and relaxing. In reality, it made my son puke. A lot. And then he’d get hungry and grouchy. And then puke more. The same goes for soft play. Unless you have a toddler you need to entertain, don’t bother. Or at least wait until your baby can crawl and grab at some of the grubby toys for the little ones. Guaranteed they won’t have batteries in them. You’re better off going to a mate’s house. Save your money.
Times sometimes don’t work. I found the times for groups especially difficult once I started to wean and get into a nap routine. All of a sudden that 9.30am stay and play isn’t appealing when I know my son needs a nap. And he will sleep for a good hour in the cot.
Baby sensory fun. I really enjoyed baby sensory but don’t be in a rush to join. When they are little, they sleep a lot. My son slept through most sessions. Once they are sitting up and grabbing toys, it’s much more fun. And warrants the cost.
It’s great to be a bit lazy. Second time around I feel OK about being lazy and having a quiet day. It’s enough just getting the boy to school on time, never mind fitting in multiple groups and Costa mornings. Enjoy downtime at home and catching up on boxsets. Before you know it, you’ll be back to work and little one will be starting school!