The Truth About Maternity Leave

This time last year I was getting cleared up at work ready for a year off on maternity leave. As I look back on my fresh faced, naive self back then I can only laugh at the expectations I had for my year off!

Expectation: I was going to give the house a good clear out. To be fair I had already done a bit of clearing out in order to create a nursery but as I was quite heavily pregnant at the time a lot of stuff just got moved into our ‘junk room’ and I figured I would deal with when I no longer resembled a hippo!

Reality: The junk room is now worse than ever! All the things my son has outgrown- car seat, bouncer, jumperoo, baby clothes etc. have been added to the collection and I can’t even bring myself to open the door anymore!

Expectation: I was going to try lots of new recipes from the mountain of recipe books gathering dust in my kitchen and dinner would be sitting ready for my husband coming home from work.

Reality: Dinners have to be quick and easy as carrying a baby around in one arm doesn’t really lend itself to preparing dinners with 49 different ingredients! Often my husband comes home to nothing prepared so either gets a baby handed to him or has to make dinner himself!

Expectation: I was going to catch up with friends and have lots of play dates with other mummies.

Reality: I made plans to meet up with everyone but this often never worked out between children being sick, clashing nap times and general craziness of family life! The few times we did manage a meet up we probably had about 5 minutes of conversation between shouting ‘get that out of your mouth’ and ‘it’s not nice to bite your friend’.

Expectation: I was going to get out for long walks everyday. When people found out I was having a baby in July everyone said how great it would be to have a summer baby and I could get out in the sun everyday for leisurely strolls.

Reality: Firstly as I live in Northern Ireland there wasn’t any sun last summer, just rain! Secondly for the first few months after he was born I was lucky to find time to brush my hair never mind look presentable enough to venture out the front door! To fair as I have a dog we did manage to get a quick walk most days just long enough for the dog to do her business then dash home again before the baby did himself damage screaming for his next feed!

Expectation: I was going to catch up on all the sleep I had missed out on while pregnant. After all when baby sleeps, mummy can sleep! I had read that newborns sleep for 16 or 17 hours a day so that would give me plenty of time to sleep plus do some housework!!

Reality: My son obviously missed the sleeping module at newborn training camp as he only slept a fraction of the aforementioned 17 hours and naps were often in 20 minute intervals which made it impossible to get anything done! As I mentioned in a previous post his sleeping hasn’t got much better as the year has progressed so I am still seriously sleep deprived and there isn’t much chance of doing housework while he naps as I’m scared to move in case I wake him up again!

In conclusion, if you are going on maternity leave soon and are planning on becoming super Mum and domestic goddess during your time off I’m afraid it isn’t going to happen. I know all the other mummies on Facebook have up photos of the amazing time they are having on maternity leave and it is true you will have picture perfect Facebook moments which you will want to unashamedly share with everyone but there will also be some not so pretty moments. So maybe my year off wasn’t productive in the way I had planned but I managed to produce another human being and watch him grow into a pretty awesome little person and that is better than anything else I could possibly have achieved this year!



Looking forward to your maternity leave? Check out our post on Making the Most of Maternity Leave.


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