Cathy Ranson, Editor at ChannelMum.com said: “It’s called Maternity Leave – but having a new baby is really just swapping one job for another, much harder one without pay, breaks or time off! Friends and colleagues may joke that you’re ‘off’ for six months or a year, but mat leave is often the hardest you’ve ever worked in your life.”
7 things to avoid when you're off on maternity leave
1. Feeling guilty: Maternity leave is there for a reason. You need to rest before birthing a baby and you need focused and unhurried time together with your tot to give them the best start in life. Many working mums – especially those on their first mat leave – report feeling guilty when they stop work. Don’t. You’re about to do the most important job in the whole world.
2. Trying to do too much: You may be nesting and feel like you need to reorganise your house from top to toe. You may go on a cleaning frenzy or want to whip through everything that’s ever been on your to do list to fill up your time. Please don’t. Do only what must be done to keep on top of things and remember this is time about your health and mental happiness.
3. Feeling lonely: Mums-to-be who are used to the buzz of a workplace and busy work routine often feel lonely when they go off on mat leave. You can feel worried about what the future may bring and how you’ll cope with a new child. Now is the time to make new mum friends and find other mums who understand what you are going through. Try https://www.channelmum.com/chat/friendship-bench/ for free help and support.
4. Setting yourself ridiculously high standards: Many mums-to-be feel under intense pressure to have Instagram-style homes and be trotting around town with a tiny bump still wearing high heels. This isn’t reality and is a waste of your energy. Want to stay home in a dressing gown and slippers and sleep? Go for it. Let your standards slip a little, so you can relax.
5. Losing touch with your non-parent friends: You’ll meet lots of new mummy mates on maternity leave, but make sure you don’t lose touch with your old friends. Yes, your life will change and you may not see as much of them, but it’s important to have friends and support from all walks of life. Some women without kids feel they’ve been ‘dropped’ when a baby comes along, so keeping a balance where everyone is included is important.
6. Worrying about money: Three in five mums go back to work earlier than planned due to money worries, so this is a big issue. In order to make mat leave as easy as possible financially, budget before you go so you know how you’re going to spread the costs. While you are off, becoming a saving ninja. Use discount codes, coupon sites, cashback platforms, eBay and Facebook selling and every other way you can think of to make your money go further.
7. Leaving it too late to find childcare and not staying in touch with work: UK mums are entitled to a full year off, but you don’t usually get paid for all of it. Your work doesn’t have the right to demand you come back early but do consider staying in touch so you can arrange your return when the time is right. It will also make it less scary walking back into work on your first day. And if you are planning to go back to work, do remember to look at your childcare options. It may feel unnatural with a newborn in your arms as you can never imagine leaving them, but good childcare can get booked up to six months in advance. When you find the right childcare, it’s easier to enjoy the rest of your maternity knowing everything is in place.
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