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Struggling with maternity leave

(33 Posts)
Alice2014 Sat 15-Feb-14 10:38:55

So at 38 weeks I've just started maternity leave - I've always worked and never had any significant length of time of work other than a full week off for my honeymoon a couple of years ago. My job is (was) incredibly demanding and I now feel completely out my comfort zone. I'm no good at just sitting and doing nothing, the house is cleaner than clean, my freezer is fully stocked and everything is ready for our new arrival.

My DH is very supportive but with very few female friends, and no friends who are parents I have no idea how to make use of my time off work. I've worried about this since very early on in pregnancy, but didn't want to dwell on it too much - now it's here it's hit me hard.

Obviously when our son comes, I shall have something to fill my time with; even then I worry that once I'm over the initial tiredness and that I'll return to feeling like I need something more to fill my time and keep my mind active. I know I'll be a good mother and am really looking forward to parenthood.

Has anyone else felt like this and have some advice for me?

ohthegoats Sat 15-Feb-14 10:45:03

Do things alone for the last time ever! Cinema during daytime, read in a cafe, walk lots.

LoveBeingCantThinkOfAName Sat 15-Feb-14 10:46:34

Agree with the above grin

noblegiraffe Sat 15-Feb-14 10:53:52

The baby will fill your time, but keeping your mind active might be an issue once baby is here. I started listening to a lot of radio 4, because you can do that and look after a baby, it made me feel better to keep up with current affairs and learn new stuff (In Our Time was good for this, available on podcast) and gave me something to talk about to DH which wasn't just the baby.
I was way too tired to read books. I was looking at a book by one of my favourite authors and considering buying it the other day when amazon informed me that I'd bought it last year. I'd read it five months into maternity leave and couldn't even remember!

theborrower Sat 15-Feb-14 11:27:13

It took me a good week to unwind from work and get all my last minute jobs done. Then I enjoyed just resting, watching DVDs, reading books, lying in etc - all the things that I wasn't going to be able to do for ages (but didn't really realise at the time...!).

The baby will take up all your time when you're off, but it can also be rather boring if I'm perfectly honest. Try and get into a routine and have something 'to do' each day - library sing thing, friend for coffee, massage class etc. I also walked loads with the pram, just to get out and while away the hours. I went back to work at 10 months - mostly for money reasons, but it did feel about right too, I wanted to get back to work.

VegasIsBest Sat 15-Feb-14 11:36:07

Have you considered joining NCT? I made some great friends that way and enjoyed meeting up before we had our babies and then while on maternity leave.

kally195 Sat 15-Feb-14 11:39:14

I'm starting maternity leave in 9 weeks and had similar concerns - I've taken up crochet which is a fab and relatively inexpensive way to pass time, with a nice end product. You can pick up yarn and hooks cheaply online, and youtube has loads of tutorials. There are a lot of free patterns online as well. OH got me the Toft menagerie kit as a present, so I am soon going to start making some soft toys for the nursery.

If you want something to keep your mind active, then have you considered looking at Coursera? Massive range of distant learning courses (free, so you don't feel too obliged too stick with it if it doesn't suit)

GingerMaman Sat 15-Feb-14 11:47:39

Honestly enjoy the next two weeks! You have no idea how your baby will be. I have a 9 month old who still wakes up every hour at night, so seriously go out and enjoy yourself, and relax! smile

Alice2014 Sat 15-Feb-14 11:48:53

Thanks for all your advice, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels like this. I've been to antenatal classes but felt awkward getting in touch with the two other ladies who attended - I've never been particularly good in social situations. I'm determined to work on this though.

I had started to crotchet but have been getting cramp in my fingers lately so found it too painful. Coursera sounds right up my street for keeping my mind busy - have just downloaded the app so thanks for p

Alice2014 Sat 15-Feb-14 11:49:09

Pointing me in that direction.

shobby Sat 15-Feb-14 11:57:36

I remember finishing work at 36 weeks with my first baby and feeling bored and very similar to you. Three months later I couldn't remember what we used to do in evenings and days off before our DD came along!
I found post natal life the hardest part of having a family, but second time around it was much better because a collegue was on mat leave with her first baby at the same time so we used to meet up and plan something together every few days, and we went to NCT pn exercise classes once a week which were fab. I went back to work at four months after my second child, and that was about right for me.

Trooperslane Sat 15-Feb-14 11:58:10

I remember wandering round John Lewis baby section, bewildered!

My job sounds the same op and I've always worked really hard.

My 6 month old is a relatively (!) easy baby and I still have days like this.

It's a massive adjustment.

I'm out every day doing baby stuff, meeting DH or my boozy mummy friend for lunch and a cheeky vino wink

And (not a stealth boast I promise) my house has never been so organised and clean. My freezer is full and I'm on top of stuff.

(Clearly everything will go tits up when I'm back to work!) wink

Pixielady83 Sat 15-Feb-14 12:08:43

I felt exactly the same going off on my first maternity leave and actually put it back to stay working longer (albeit from home) because I was so freaked out by 'not working'. Having a baby was similar - I was too tired (and disorientated) to do anything much but I felt completely at sea just sitting on the sofa feeding all the time and watching daytime tv. I think listening to Radio 4 is a very good suggestion. Also watching documentaries on demand and TED talks. It took a long time for me to come to terms with a different pace of life that was not centred on being intellectually engaged on 'work' in all honesty and I'm not sure how I'll manage again this time (although I have enjoyed my early start to maternity leave far more as I appreciate that you just don't get time to do anything much for yourself, the house etc for so long afterwards!).

When you're ready (probably around the 10-12 week mark when things start settling down) finding good baby classes where you do an activity alongside other mums is a really good way to meet people - I found it much easier than the groups where you just sit around and drink coffee as there is an activity to focus on if conversation isn't flowing. Baby massage was free in our area when I had DD and was a nice low impact social thing to start with. The library activities were always nice and friendly too, and friends have enjoyed baby sign and baby swim classes also.

Don't feel bad if you're ready to go back to work earlier than planned. I had planned to take a year off and ended up going back on slightly reduced hours after 9 months because I needed to get back to feeling a bit more 'me' again. Also, remember you can have up to 10 'keeping in touch' days which don't affect your maternity leave but keep you in touch with what's going on in work - I used a few last time just to feel like I wasn't completely out of the loop and it really helped going back.

On the other hand you may take to it like a duck to water in which case embrace it, it doesn't last forever - the baby stage or maternity leave (although it may feel like it might at times in that first year!). Good luck smile

Haahoooo Sat 15-Feb-14 14:54:13

I agree with those that suggest planning something for every day once the baby arrives. I'm not very good at being home, and just having an activity every day to plan around is such a bit help.

Things I did first time around and will do again:

- Baby swimming
- Buggyfit
- Gymboree - music and play classes
- NCT coffee afternoon
- Playgroups once baby a bit older
- Meeting for lunch with colleagues or friends (provided they didn't mind me bringing DD!)
- Baby massage course
- Running (with running buggy once DD 6 months)
- Lots of walks, with other mums or alone)

Things I plan to try this time:
- Trips to museums while DS still 'portable' / mainly in sling
- Baby cinema
- Maybe baby yoga
- Maybe bang signing

Quite a few of these things cost money but worth it just for getting out if the house, and with luck you'll meet people there who you can then meet up with afterwards for free smile

Good luck!

Suzietwo Sat 15-Feb-14 20:10:48

A slightly different approach- you don't actually have to embrace it. With my first I was employed and worked a few hours from home until baby was born. I was back on work emails at my leisure within a few days, used my KiT days over first few months and went back at 3 months.

I left when baby was 10 months and went self employed so it was even more full on when baby 2 arrived. I was drafting stuff on 29.11 and she was born by c section on 22.11.

This is my third and I am due end of May and have a date I need to attend court on 20 June.

I'm not saying this is the right way but it is an option which might suit you. I find a holistic approach to work and childcare good for me. There aren't periods of pure child care but equally I am generally around more than most mums who do my sort of job/work. The shit periods are balanced by the good periods and if they're not I reassess.

I appreciate not everyone feels they can find a way of making this sort of thing work for them but I wanted to put it as an option.

SweetPea86 Sat 15-Feb-14 22:00:20

Seriously? I'm on my mat leave and I'm 32 weeks but I decided to slow down at work due to sickness and SPD like you worked all my life never took a single sick day. But I wanted the last couple of months to be stress free. I haven't been sitting around been busy doing things I never get chance to do whilst at work,

It's time you will never get back for your self and once baby is here you won't stop. I don't know how I would of coped working till 38 weeks as I was in so much pain. But using my extra time off to an advantage. Why not catch up with family and friends, shopping, swimming going for a walk around the park. Read a good book. Take nice relaxing baths because that's one thing out the window once baba is here.

Don't get me wrong I love my job I love being busy and love all the people I work with. But life's not all about working. Life is for living enjoy your last few weeks of free time. smile

TestingTestingWonTooFree Sun 16-Feb-14 15:32:40

I was also going to suggest the Ted lectures for something nice to do at home.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Sun 16-Feb-14 15:33:57

If you have mobile numbers for the other women, maybe just send a friendly text to see how they're doing, you can see how they respond and decide whether to suggest meeting up.

PervyMuskrat Sun 16-Feb-14 16:20:07

I'm with SweetPea86 on this. I went on mat leave at 32 weeks last time as my job was stressful and I wanted a decent break before DC arrived. I used the time to rest, catch up with friends, do jigsaws, go out with DH, read in peace etc. I loved that time and felt much better for it when DC arrived and proved not to be very adept at this sleeping lark.

This time round I'll be working until 36 weeks (provided all goes well) and I'm looking forward to doing similar again when DC is in nursery.

Find a really good set of books and lose yourself in them. Would recommend the Discworld books or the Robin Hobb Farseer trilogy smile

LightTripper Sun 16-Feb-14 16:29:35

I am hoping to have a couple of weeks before baby arrives to get all my digital photos from the last few years turned into albums. I am currently about half way through one from 2009 which I started about a year ago! Probably now she'll arrive early and I won't have time, but that is my plan. If I'm really at a loose end (maybe if she's late) I was also thinking of getting a sewing machine and starting to learn to sew.

I am actually kind of looking forward to the change, but work is so intense I suspect it might be a bit of a shock to the system when I get there, so can totally understand where you are coming from!

Good luck! LT xx

Pixielady83 Sun 16-Feb-14 17:36:06

lighttripper I have just finished 2008 photobooks and tomorrow's job is sorting through 1300 photos from 2009! grin

nearlyreadytopop Sun 16-Feb-14 17:46:07

I remember feeling like that whilst waiting on ds's appearance. I finished at 38 weeks and he was 10 days late. I have never been so bored and like you my house has never been so clean. I ended up addicted to a computer game whilst sitting on a gym ball.
If you think you might want to bf look for a local support group, they welcome pregnant ladies and you might meet up with others in similar circumstances.

Alice2014 Sun 16-Feb-14 18:40:05

Thanks guys, more wonderful suggestions - I think that should fill the next few days. Thanks SuzieTwo for sharing your experience, I've already logged in and tweaked some code I wrote because I couldn't stop thinking about a different solution to what I had been working on; but I've promised myself that your all right and I should focus on me for a little bit - but KiT days and going back earlier are certainly things I'll consider later on. For now I'll take it a day at a time, which is easy on a weekend of family Birthdays!

LightTripper Mon 17-Feb-14 07:55:23

Glad you are catching up pixie, gives me some hope!!

EeyoreIsh Mon 17-Feb-14 08:05:12

I totally understand where you're coming from! I had a really busy job I loved, but I had to stop at 32 weeks as I was getting so uncomfortable and too stressed. The first weeks off were fine as it was Xmas so I was kept busy, but I got quite lost after that. I solved it by setting myself achievements for each day and arranging to meet people for lunch etc.

I'm now 3 weeks in with a newborn and it's different again! I actually find this bit more challenging than the period before the baby, as I'm constrained by baby and exhaustion.

I too don't love social things with strangers, but I've forced myself to go to a few baby groups and it's been ok. Everyone there has been in a similar position so I've found them welcoming. I plan to do something each day, even if it's just a trip to the shops.

I've told myself that I will start using KIT days from September, which doesn't feel as scary as thinking I'll go back to work in February!

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