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To have not ‘achieved’ anything during mat leave

87 replies

Saltyaire · 31/07/2022 13:08

I am due to go back to work next week after 12 months of maternity leave. I had a quick zoom session last week with some colleagues and one of them asked me what I had done during mat leave and I said I had looked after DD but not got round to painting DS’ room (which I really wanted to do but never found time for).

Said colleague then went on about how some women start businesses/do renovations during mat leave and get loads of stuff done but it was nice that I got a chance to ‘relax’. At the time I laughed it off but the more I think about it the more annoyed I am with colleague and also myself.

I didn’t realise mat leave was meant to be a chance for me to reinvent myself but maybe it was and I’ve just been too lazy. It’s my second child and I feel even more exhausted than I did with DS (although I didn’t achieve anything with DS either during mat leave). Should I have done something?! DS goes to nursery 3 days a week otherwise it’s just me and DH doing childcare and DD hasn’t been the best sleeper until the past few months but maybe I have been making excuses. I do see women on instagram doing all sorts of stuff while they are on mat leave but I wonder how they find the time?! Do they have help??

OP posts:
minipie · 31/07/2022 13:13

My achievement during mat leave was keeping myself and the DC alive! Mine aren’t good sleepers and DC1 was very high maintenance when awake… maybe if I’d had decent nights and multiple 2 hr naps to fill I might have got something else done.

But really I think mat leave is a chance to recover physically and focus on your baby, if you’ve done that you’re doing fine IMO.

DrManhattan · 31/07/2022 13:15

Omg. Just when you thought women couldn't be under any more pressure.
Mat leave is for you to do whatever you want with. There isn't a test at the end to see if you have done it right. It's your life

Brented · 31/07/2022 13:15

Everyone is different and they shouldn’t be shamed whatever they have done, whether it’s starting a business, writing a book, or going to baby classes. In my friendship group, a few did do the first two things I mentioned, and no, they didn’t have any help. It’s not a competition, people don’t really compare jobs like this (I.e., ‘I only answered some phones today, whilst others were saving lives’). So I don’t know why people do it with parenthood. Maybe come off instagram if it’s upsetting you?

Italiandreams · 31/07/2022 13:16

Same, I thought I had done very well to keep two small children alive and myself reasonably sane! I’m constantly exhausted and barely have a minute to myself so when I do, I literally just sit! Looking forward to going back to work so I can have some time in the car on my own everyday!

Herbie0987 · 31/07/2022 13:18

You have done a lot, you have 2 children who you care for, day after day with no holidays. You are giving your family stability through a big change in family dynamics. You are doing the most important job that ever was or will be.

Italiandreams · 31/07/2022 13:18

Good for people who did achieve things, I have nothing but admiration for them, but everyone I know just survived and went to a few baby groups, so you are far from alone.

Hollyhocksarenotmessy · 31/07/2022 13:19

Ha ha ha, I suspect your colleague doesn't have children, right?

I was going to write a novel during mine...

I used to provide training to groups of people on shared parental leave, and played a short recorded interview with a couple planning to do this for their first baby. Dad very earnestly explained he would be taking over at6 months and use the time to not only start a business, but also songwriting and recording a demo tape. Every parent in the room invariably pissed themselves laughing, while the Non-parents looked at them, bemused by the reaction.

mum2bee2022 · 31/07/2022 13:19

sounds like she's trying to make you feel insecure. IGNORE completely. What a horrible cow!!

Walkingdeadobsessed · 31/07/2022 13:20

Your entire reason for being during mat leave is to keep your small child alive and healthy. If you have done that then you have smashed it!!

MarshaMelrose · 31/07/2022 13:23

You didn't manage to do stuff, other women do. You're different people with different children and different challenges. It's not unreasonable for someone to ask if you did anything. It's not unreasonable for you not to have done anything.
Just tell yourself that you've used your maternity leave for the purpose it's given, to bond with your baby and move on. Don't fret about what others do or you'll spoil the good memories you have.

NellePorter · 31/07/2022 13:24

Oh my god, I only had 6 months off with each of mine, but some days I felt like it was a significant achievement if we all got out of our pyjamas! I hope you've enjoyed spending some time with your children and all the best back at work, I hope you can avoid this colleague!

audweb · 31/07/2022 13:24

Walkingdeadobsessed · 31/07/2022 13:20

Your entire reason for being during mat leave is to keep your small child alive and healthy. If you have done that then you have smashed it!!

This! That’s the reason for mat leave, that’s an achievement in itself.

NrlySp · 31/07/2022 13:24

Your colleague is a idiot. You looked after two children. Your body started to recover from having a baby.
You did lots

Maddogsandtoplessenglishmen · 31/07/2022 13:25

You kept not one but two children alive, congrats you achieved plenty.

Being a mum is enough. Its absolutely okay to want to do things outside of being a mum but I hate the way society, or some of society, positions being a mum as not enough and you need something else to justify your time. Being a mum is enough.

After all its not like nursery workers are also doing degrees and writing books and recording music within work time are they? Because when we are paying (mainly women) to look after children its justifiable that that's all they are doing. But take payment out of the equation and suddenly mums aren't 'doing enough'.

Besides do you want to reinvent yourself? You are a mum of two children with a job and what sounds like a stable relationship. Do you need to reinvent yourself, you sound like you are just fine as you are.

ShinyMe · 31/07/2022 13:25

As far as I was aware, the only thing you're 'meant' to do on maternity leave is have a baby and look after the baby. Did you do that? Everything else is an optional extra. If you've got a healthy happy baby who's bonded with you, then that's a successful maternity leave, isn't it?

SunshineAndFizz · 31/07/2022 13:26

Please ignore her and think no more about it.

Scabbersweasley · 31/07/2022 13:26

What a load of bull. I am in the same boat as you op, even down to not getting dd room decorated as I had planned. It's even less likely to get done now older dc are off school. The sole purpose of mat leave is to recover and care for your baby. If you can do a few baby groups, keep older dc occupied, occasionally cook/clean then you are more than smashing it. Renovating a house and starting a new business are surely not on very many peoples mat leave agenda?

GoldenPineapple88 · 31/07/2022 13:27

I don't wish to brag, OP, but during one of my 12 month maternity leaves I managed to paint some skirting boards. (about 3 meters worth in a very, very small room).

In seriousness though, the time is there for you to recover from birth, establish breastfeeding etc and bond with your baby. Your colleague will get a very nasty shock when they have children!

PurBal · 31/07/2022 13:29

I wanted to write a book. I laugh at myself for thinking that was even possible.
I agree with PP that having a baby and looking after them is the achievement.
Also your colleague is an idiot.

pinacollama · 31/07/2022 13:30

Wow. Surely the achievement is raising a baby! That’s massive.

pinacollama · 31/07/2022 13:30

I achieved spending a small fortune on coffees…

BeanieTeen · 31/07/2022 13:31

Said colleague then went on about how some women start businesses/do renovations during mat leave and get loads of stuff done


You we’re good to laugh it off politely and then carry on with your meeting. I don’t think I could have kept a straight face at anything she said going forward from there.

lancsgirl85 · 31/07/2022 13:32

My achievement during mat leave was keeping myself and the DC alive!

Yeah. I came on to pretty much say this.

I survived, I kept my baby alive and well, I bonded with her, I cuddled her, we went to baby groups some days and others just stayed home.... that was my mat leave and it was awesome, frankly. I look back now 6 months into my return to work very fondly and wish I could do it all again. 😃

Ponoka7 · 31/07/2022 13:33

Yes, looking after a newborn and healing from birth is exactly the time that you should be doing renovations 🙄. I hate the idea that we should be outwardly achieving. Especially when we should be living in the moment and self caring. I helped my DD out a lot after each birth because we usually don't get to enjoy our newborns as much as we should because of outside pressures. People seem to love to go on the attack when women are a bit vulnerable. Don't give what she said headspace. I'm in my 50's. A lot of my friends are struggling to find work. I've often thought that now employment is no longer mainly manual we've got the working age backwards. Women (and other carers) shouldn't be overstressed during the early childhood years. Bringing children up well and keeping things together benefits society more than the majority of jobs.

BeanieTeen · 31/07/2022 13:33

Maybe one day when she goes on maternity leave you could text her every few weeks to ask her how the renovations and new business is going.

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