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Maternity leave survival guide

(16 Posts)
ThroughTheRoundWindow Fri 09-Sep-11 15:40:35

Most people will tell you how much they enjoy their maternity leave, but I think all of us have moments where we think our brain cells have reduced to single figures and we can't remember what it feels like to leave the house without 2 hours of prep time. So I thought it might be useful for those of us who've done it before to share our suggestions for keeping our sanity with the first timers.

What helped you to get through your maternity leave? Not the "how to look after your baby" advice, but the little things you did for yourself that helped you keep your sense of self when sleep deprived, lonely and with only the non-verbal for company?

I'll start:
- going for a walk every day (regardless of rain, crying baby or toe-curling tireness)
- radio 4 for sane adult voices

CBear6 Fri 09-Sep-11 15:57:08

A second big thumbs up for getting outside every day regardless of the weather. With DS I would load him into his pushchair and I'd get out, even if we just went for a twenty minute stroll around the street and back. Fresh air to blow away the cobwebs, daylight to lift the mood, and DS was mesmerised by "outside". DD is due any day and I'll be doing the same thing again.

Puzzle books or magazines with puzzles in them. Yes, they're slightly naff and twee but if I'm feeling like my brain is turning to mush then a crossword or a sudoku or whatever helps get the wheels turning again.

Baking. I bake like a fiend at the minute because it helps pass time and it keeps DS (2yo) occupied because he can "help". Little tip though, if a recipe says "makes 36 servings" don't presume it to be a typing error. It's not.

Do the jobs you've been putting off for months/years because you've been too busy. You don't need to do them all at once or anything too strenuous but I've been meaning for months to sort out my clothes and donate all of the ones that don't fit or are never worn or that I just don't like. Last week I finally did it. I pruned DS's toys. I organised my cupboards. Give it a few weeks and it will all be back to how it was but it passed time and I feel better for getting some jobs ticked off.

Baby group. Some people hate them and they're not compulsory but if you can find a group you like they're great. I went to one specifically for babies aged 0-9 months so none of the children were running around screaming or fighting with one another and there wasn't much opportunity for bragging or trying to get one-up because all of the babies were still in the dribbling/gurgling/laying there phase. We used to just pop all the babies on the carpet in the middle of the room and sit in a circle around them, sing a few nursery rhymes, and then spend the rest of the time chatting. It was adult company, people in the same boat (e.g., sleepless nights, etc), and an excuse to get out of the house.

Newmummytobe79 Fri 09-Sep-11 16:39:42

Oh thank you! This is perfect for a first timer who is scared stiff of the next x months maternity leave! (and being 9 days late and pottering about the house is leaving me lots of thinking time ... not good!)

Looking forward to reading many more tips (I hope!)



Beesok Fri 09-Sep-11 17:02:32

This is a good thread! I have been off on M/L for almost 3 weeks now but because I have made myself busy I actually don't know where the time passed away but now that things are calming dow I have another 5 weeks before due date so panicking about losing all my brain cells hehehe smile

I ordered books from amazon (NOT baby related) figured once baby is here I will be too busy/tired, I make it a point to go out at least once day as of tom will try to schedule some gym/yoga classes.
Also am keeping my social life alive - I try to arrange to meet someone at least 2-3 times a week esp. focusing on other mums-to-be or friends with babies on Mat leave too - I think this is the most important thing for me to keep my sanity - ADULT interaction! I also make it a point to sometimes go out in the evening and come back home after my DH comes back from work - may sound silly but I don't want to feel like I am cooped up waiting for him all day hmm

Getting all the little jobs sorted around the house - just to make life that much easier after the birth and it's nice to have stuff organized and decluttered for once! smile

Am just dreading the rainy/cold weather in November sad

cherryjellybelly Fri 09-Sep-11 18:22:59

thanks for this thread, I'm feeling the same as newmummytobe. I might just go for an evening walk :D

Pastabee Fri 09-Sep-11 18:26:24

Oh thank you for mentioning radio 4 window. I go to friend's houses when they have a newborn and they seem to have really bad day time tv on. I couldn't bear that and have an intention to spend 10 minutes of everyday in a rational manner before going back to laying on playmat (I like the crinkly noise bits grin)

Nice to know it's not that unrealistic to use radio for adult voices instead of that monster Jeremy Kyle.

Bumpsadaisie Fri 09-Sep-11 18:26:49

Once you are through the initial fog where you are just at home in your jamas watching TV and feeding, make sure that every day, you get out of the house! You can see your NCT friends, go to baby singing, baby swimming etc etc, or even just walk into town with the pram and have a look at the baby clothes etc and have yourself a coffee with the paper.

If BFing, get used to BFing in public as soon as you reasonably can. It makes SUCH a difference to your life if you can get out and about confidently. You just need to take the plunge the first time. Its great if your DH can go with you when you BF in public teh first time - he will be able to reassure you that no one is looking, no one cares and no one can see your boobs!

Northernlurker Fri 09-Sep-11 18:28:06

Enjoy preparing for Christmas with plenty of time not fitting it round work! (Assuming your maternity leave covers Novemebr/December obviously)

pootlebug Fri 09-Sep-11 18:47:35

Get out and meet people. Not on day two post birth - when you're feeling up to it. But even if you don't fancy the idea of 'baby groups' in themselves you're bound to find some people you click with and then you can just meet up with them if you prefer. I moved location with a 7 week old and knew no-one where I moved to.....really gave me the incentive to get out and get to know people.

If you're BFing, and nervous about doing so in public, go to either a breastfeeding drop in group / bf advice group, or to a NCT Mums and Babies meet won't be the only bf-er, and you can gain confidence when everyone else is doing the same.

Totally personal decision - but on the whole the small number of people I've met who were miserable on maternity leave were the ones tied to a strict routine. As they couldn't go out as easily because baby had to be asleep in her cot in a room with blackout blinds etc. A bit of routine is no bad thing but not letting it rule your life gives you more flexibility.

Small babies are very portable. Much more so than crawling babies/walking toddlers etc. So make the most of it - pop them in the pram or a sling (the latter really comes into its own if you use public transport a lot) and go and do things you like to do. I went to several art galleries with an under-6-month-old that I haven't had the chance to look around since now that I have a 3 year old and 2 year old. Even just sitting having a quiet coffee and reading the paper whilst they lie next to you or on your front in a sling is something that isn't nearly so easy a year down the line - so enjoy it now!

If you're not meeting anyone/going to a group that day get out anyway. Everyone is nice to you and chats to you when you have a baby with you! It also seems to be infinitely more acceptable to chat to the lady on the table next to you in the cafe with her tiny baby too, than it is to randomly strike up conversations when you're not with a child. So adult conversations shouldn't be too hard to come by.

ThroughTheRoundWindow Sun 11-Sep-11 18:45:22

Euugh, Jeremy Kyle would be enough to send anyone over the edge! Radio 4 definitely the way to go. The Today Programme in the morning to keep abreast of the news in Real World, and all the other random progs about things you didn't think you had any interest in that are actually fascinating. Obv tho you have to give pretending ever to be young again, but once have baby that pretty much is the case anyway!

Grumpla Sun 11-Sep-11 18:51:55

Baby cinema screenings are amazing. Even if you only see about half the film that's still enough to have a conversation about with your 'real world' friends. Stops you from hating how boring you have become.

Ditto podcasts for listening to on long walks with pram.

Don't worry about a routine for the first three months AT LEAST, by the time you get to about 4mo the baby may well have worked one out for themselves. Terribly restrictive otherwise.

Keep a good book and a drink / snack in the glovebox. If you reach your destination and baby is asleep in car seat, don't wake it up by removing it, just stay in car, read your book, catch 40 winks, whatever...

Read this amazing book and burn the rest.

Grumpla Sun 11-Sep-11 18:52:45

Oh yes and go to the library! There are loads of free kids stuff in most libraries, lots of them for really little babies.

MamaChoo Mon 12-Sep-11 09:25:11

Kindles are great, you can read them in very low light (eg during night feeds) so download masses of stuff you've been meaning to read. Same with TV, watching box sets of good series you missed makes better use of time than repeats of Homes Under The Hammer...alo most US episodes are about the length of a feed in the early days!

Jill72 Mon 12-Sep-11 09:36:07

Just signed up to Audible - audio books to download to iPod. Think I will listen to them while feeding perhaps.

LikeACandleButNotQuite Mon 12-Sep-11 21:32:51

Ooo, the Ricky Gervais shows are on Audible, and hilarous!! I listen to them to fall asleep

lollystix Mon 12-Sep-11 22:36:37

Yes - totally agree thank god for baby cinema. Also second the poster re the Gina Ford mums who are totally housebound cos wee one 'can only sleep in their cot' and it must be at 10.30.

I found one hard tbh and made sure everyday I had a group or event planned. It's much more fun the next times around as you have friends, know your patch for groups and events and you're just so much busier with your toddler.

Stay away from 'homes under the hammer' too - I'm not knocking it but it's the same thing every day (don't even start me on Jeremy!)

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