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Is maternity leave really a break?

(122 Posts)
FormerlyKnownAsPrincessChick Wed 10-Apr-13 15:34:17

I've had it from several people. Basically, it would seem that maternity leave is like a jolly long holiday where I will be enjoying lie-ins, followed by slobbing around on the sofa all day drinking tea, eating cake, watching homes under the hammer or else going out for yummy mummy lunches and generally having a lovely break from it all.

Now, I do kind of expect to end up slobbing on the sofa all day drinking tea, eating cake and watching homes under the hammer but with a baby on my boob and matchsticks in my eyes, hormonally weeping at the lovely job that couple have made of that bathroom, worrying if bright yellow poo is normal or an indication of something very, very wrong with the baby whilst nursing a very sore fanjo.... Also, given that maternity pay isn't loads and loads I can't see that I will be going out for lunch at all (unless it's sarnies in the park or similar)....

Obviously very grateful that I'll have paid time off work to look after my baby and can't wait to bond with him / her. But I kind of think that regular work is probably easier than having a new responsibility 24/7? Am I wrong? Is it going to be a nice long break from it all?

AIBU to think that maternity leave isn't really a break / extended holiday?

poorchurchmouse Wed 10-Apr-13 22:24:41

I bloody hated it - it was a huge relief to get back to work at 6 months even though DS wasn't sleeping through the night. That was mainly because I loathed breastfeeding, though, and DS was a bottle refuser. If I had another (which I won't because I can't do the sleep deprivation again) I'd bottle feed after the first few days. I wanted to scream and throw things with frustration at being permanently chained to the sofa, and DS never really speeded up - a feed still took an hour when he was 7 months!

He's a great toddler though.

NumericalMum Wed 10-Apr-13 22:28:14

I have a very demanding job and skipped back to it.
The first 3 months I would have happily run away. The next three were a bit better once I learnt to exist on 3 hours sleep a night and none of it in a block. The last 3 months were a lot better. I could cope on no sleep at all a lot better (which was lucky as it latest another two years) and I got to meet friends and chill as my baby was happy to be sociable. If I was at home I would cry all day so I left home by 9 every day and did something. Anything. I was very fit when I went back to work as I walked everywhere and due to baby allergies I was on a restricted diet so pretty thin. All in all I hope if I do it again I will enjoy the benefits more and not wish it away, but in reality I think I will always enjoy being at work some of the time too.

lemonybarcode Wed 10-Apr-13 22:31:43

For me, maternity leave was a complete breeze, Ive got 4 kids, and even with the 4th it was far easier than it is being at work. As others have said, it depends on the job, but I certainly don't get a break at work, whereas being at home was lovely: coffee, tv, friends etc

Ariel21 Wed 10-Apr-13 22:35:11

Call me naive, but since discovering pregnancy I've been positively quivering with excitement about having 9 months off work. Coupled with both me and my partner working super-hard for the next 7.5 months (both self-employed) so as to save for the baby, and yes - I admit, I am fantasising about digging the allotment and going for walks with the baby in a sling. I can hear every mother laughing at me now.

Dippy001 Wed 10-Apr-13 22:37:26

Although maternity leave has been hell, similar experience to poorchurchmouse, I hate my job and know leaving my kids again will tear them up so I'd rather stay at home. It's no jolly though.

gwenniebee Wed 10-Apr-13 22:38:00

For me, it's been lovely. I am loving being a Mummy and after the first few very stressful weeks, I feel more confident and happier in myself than I have done practically since I left primary school. I am a teacher and I was exceptionally stressed in my job.

However, there is no switch off time, and that is tiring. So, at least before I could decide to have a bath/a lie in and just do it (even if mostly I was feeling guilty about the marking that ought to be done...) Whereas now I can't do that so easily, or I feel guilty about the housework that needs doing instead.

I am dreading going back. Really, really dreading it.

badguider Wed 10-Apr-13 22:38:23

I haven't had any yet and as i'm self-employed I won't even really get any with this pregnancy but I'd say it is a break from work.

When I worked in an organisation I noticed my colleagues who had a year's mat leave came back re-energised and re-focused (whereas moral had been low when they left).

I'm sure looking after a small baby isn't easy, but it is different. And doing something different for 6, 9, 12 months can be energising.

cocoachannel Wed 10-Apr-13 22:57:37

Mine involved a lot of meeting friends, eating cake and sitting on the sofa watching box sets whilst feeding DD. It was heavenly for a few months and then got pretty dull.

I returned to work exactly as badguider described - much more focused, motivated and ambitious.

lemonybarcode Wed 10-Apr-13 23:10:58

Btw there is no switch off if you are a mum who works. Im not sure what these jobs are that allows cups of tea/ lunch breaks. For me: I do all that a maternity/sahm does,plus plus rest. Far more knackering ime

lovetomoan Wed 10-Apr-13 23:16:48

Definitely a break from backstabbing colleagues grin

NiceTabard Wed 10-Apr-13 23:48:41

lemony by law you are entitled to a lunch break of 1/2 hour if you are working more than a certain amount of hours a day ie most full time jobs. If your employer is working people full time type hours with no breaks then that is illegal.

NiceTabard Wed 10-Apr-13 23:49:36

In fact I think you should name and shame your employer I don't know any employers who won't allow people to eat lunch. That is really bad.

NiceTabard Wed 10-Apr-13 23:53:29

I have gone a couple of days without lunch at work due to busyness and it was not good, did not perform well when I got hungry. Seriously who do you work for they need to be clamped down on these laws are there for a reason. Working all day with no food is just, well, illegal and wrong.

TheDetective Wed 10-Apr-13 23:53:52



and more hmm.

I love my maternity leave, but if you think it isn't hard work, you either got very fucking lucky, or you just don't notice the work you are putting in 24/7.

I work in a very demanding job. I do not want to go back. Have to though.

But maternity leave has not been anything like cake and tea. I go out to baby groups, and my days consist of caring for one refluxy baby, one stroppy preenager, school runs, food shopping, and cooking and cleaning. Less of the last two. The baby doesn't give time for that. I get stressed about finances, stressed about the crappy recovery I am having from the fucking forcep delivery, stressed about my baby and the whole reflux/intolerance thing, stressed about how the fuck I am going to go back to work in 2 weeks and look after other people and their newborns, with my own baby who doesn't sleep through the night, and as far as I am concerned, still acts pretty much as a newborn.

He's 4.5 months. It hasn't got any easier yet. In fact, it got harder, as his reflux started at 10 weeks.

As it is, I'm not physically well enough to return to work yet, so I am sure my work are going to be delighted when I tell them I am off sick. Not how I envisaged this whole thing going, at all. hmm

herethereandeverywhere Wed 10-Apr-13 23:59:50

Depends on a) what your job is like and b) how demanding a baby you get (complete lottery!)

I loved my mat leave before the birth and once I'd got over the car crash of a birth, it was the easiest 12 months of my life (since I was about 11 anyway!) and kept referring to it as "when I was on holiday" when I got back to work - to the dismay of my colleagues! I did have an extremely stressful long hours job though.

Jan49 Thu 11-Apr-13 00:23:28

The first 8 months post-birth were an exhausted horrible nightmare for me. Then I felt like I was emerging from a fog and it began to seem more manageable. I went back to work part time when the baby was 9 months old and having time off from looking after him really helped.
Someone at work talked as if my non-working days were all spent sitting sunning myself in a chair in the garden and I felt like crying and informed them that my work days were definitely my days off. grin

BonaDea Thu 11-Apr-13 02:03:17

My DS is three weeks. I have a stressful job I don't really like. Yet, earlier this week as I sat in agony as DS fed through the screaming thrush I have on my nipples I thought fondly of the office and wondered if I'd really been a but hasty telling them I'd take 12 months off!

And, by the way, daytime tv is awful. Seems to have gotten much worse in the 10 years or so since I last seriously watched any as a student.

nooka Thu 11-Apr-13 03:20:38

It's not just about your babies temperament and whether you liked your job, but also about your temperament and your situation too.

I found maternity leave mostly a mixture of stress and boredom. Small babies (well babies full stop really) are not my cup of tea, and hanging out with other people and their small babies isn't really my scene either. I'm not very keen on day time TV either, and I hadn't discovered mumsnet. My 'mummy friends' were nice, but seemed to spend all their time having coffee and going shopping, both of which I find pretty boring (and we were short of cash too).

So I was very happy to go back to work, and had a much shorter leave second time around. But then I hated it when I had to take three months off a few years ago too (my kids are both almost teens now). I don't do well with too much unstructured time smile

PariahHairy Thu 11-Apr-13 03:47:22

If it is your first baby, then maternity leave is semi-easy (baby dependent natch) if you have a 24/7 screamer, it's not so relaxing.

But actually I wouldn't call any maternity leave a break as such. It's a settling in period, I remember with my first I was terrified to take her out on my own and would get taxi's everywhere.

Obviously by the time I got to my third I was adept at juggling babies and pushchairs and bags etc, but it's not an immediate thing, it takes time to gain confidence.

I see that it is your first baby, I really doubt you are going to be lounging for 6 months, those titchy babies are hard work.

MyShoofly Thu 11-Apr-13 03:58:42

I'm home with my second and I can tell you being home with a baby and a toddler is no jolly holiday.

Now that I have two I can't recall why I found one difficult.....but I did and felt like I was on a break when I returned to work. I think it's the monotonous 24/7 nature of childcare.

Twattybollocks Thu 11-Apr-13 04:55:26

The first two times it wasn't a break at all, I couldn't wait to get back to work just to have a few hours a day when all I had to think about was myself and my work. Dc1 and 2 were both demanding babies. This time around dc3 is a doddle, happy smiley little thing at only 10 weeks she sleeps 10-7 with only one feed and settles straight after. I think I've died and gone to heaven. I'm not going back to work as such this time, but will be doing part time self employed in a few months which I will fit around kids and Baby, I'm not looking forwards to it at all.

Chottie Thu 11-Apr-13 05:48:57

I loved, loved, loved being a SAHM..... Being at work full time is just a relentless slog of targets and challenges.......

PenelopeLane Thu 11-Apr-13 06:26:52

I loved my 8.5 months off, and the only part I really found tough was was first 2 months or so after DS was born. I still think about that time with a smile. Having said that though, I had an easy baby, and DH and I saved really hard when I was pregnant so had enough money to still afford nice things (combined with very tight budgeting of our savings). I was sad to go back to work, but found that fine as well. I think if I'd signed up to a life as a permanent SAHM I wouldn't have liked it so much, as when I had a bad day, it was always in the back of my mind that it was just a short period of my life in the scheme of things.

Going off work again with DC2 later in the year, and am not expecting it to be so easy though with a toddler!

NapaCab Thu 11-Apr-13 06:33:37

It depends on the baby, it depends on your job, it depends on how much family support you have, how much money you have, all kinds of things.

A short maternity leave on a tight budget taking care of a baby that struggles to feed or never sleeps would be very far from a break!

rustybusty Thu 11-Apr-13 06:48:46

I have only had maternity leave with my second as first only could take 2 weeks off. With second it was bliss do what you want, no rushing around or being out so early, down the beach whenever I wanted, see your friends, go for lunch, watch tv.

The only time in your life you have no proper work to do, or rushing around or proper stress. I wish I was on it right now.

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