Maternity Leave – one year on – the reality of a year from work

June 6, 2017

I count my blessings every day that I was able to take the full year of maternity leave allowed to parents here in the UK. I know that I was incredibly lucky.

But was maternity leave everything I had hoped for?

I wrote about maternity back in September last year, and I do still stand by what I said back then. Maternity leave isn’t an extended holiday, it isn’t a break. I’ve probably worked harder in the last year than I have in my entire working life.

The perception of maternity leave is sleepy mornings curled up in bed with this tiny new life. Play dates every other day surrounded by little ones of varying ages, mums sharing their sleepless night anecdotes. Having time to spend on all those creative projects you always wanted to do but never had the time for before, like learning a new skill. All whilst having the perfectly kept home and having dinner on the table for your partner.

And yes, some of my last year has consisted of this. We’ve cuddled in bed, and had naps together til lunchtime. We’ve done play dates. We’ve gone to play group. We go swimming every week. I’ve worked on my blog and worked on my photography as well as my social media. I’ve cleaned the house from top to bottom and had dinner on the table for 6pm on a fairly regular basis.  

But I’ve also had days where I haven’t gotten out of pjs all day. Scratch that, make that a couple of days. Or haven’t left the house all week. The wash basket has gotten to the over-flowing stage more than once. Some days the most I’ve managed to do is feed Henry and keep him alive, and that was a pretty solid accomplishment.

There’s many things I thought I would achieve in my year away from work, that quite honestly, I just didn’t. I wanted to write a book – I’ve always wanted to be an author – and thought this year would be the perfect opportunity. It didn’t happen. Sure I have more of an idea for a book, but that’s as far as that  has gotten. I thought I’d be part of a mum gang and Henry and I would be out and about on the daily. Sure we’ve been out and about, and we’ve got a couple of groups we go to, and I have my online mama blogger friends to talk to when I need them but it’s no where near the extent I imagined.

I thought I’d have my stuff together and be the uber mum, and some days I do, and other days not so much.

And that’s the thing about maternity leave. It’s a learning situation. I think I’ve learnt more about myself in this last year than in any other time of my life about the person that I am.
It’s been a year that has been amazing, and for that I wouldn’t change a thing.
You can have all the expectations that you like, but your maternity leave is just that, yours. And I’m happy and grateful for this year spent with my favourite little boy, who’s helped make me feel like me and given me the best year of my life.

7 responses to “Maternity Leave – one year on – the reality of a year from work”

  1. Cristina says:

    I'm glad you've managed to have a lovely maternity leave with your little one. Things never happen to plan but it's how you deal with it that matters. You and your little one look so happy in the pictures xx

  2. Ashleigh - says:

    I am yet to have children so have no idea what maternity leave is like. However, you look like you'e having lots of fun and it's always good to be at home with your kids 🙂

  3. Gee Gardner says:

    I've always wanted to write a book too but that idea always seems to end up on the back burner. Looks like you managed to have an amazing maternity leave and what lovely photographs x

  4. Mummy Cat says:

    I am one of the lucky few who can stay at home while my husband works, I did want to plan to work once my older children went to full time education but I unexpectedly fell pregnant with my third and I am now at home again until shes in education, its not fun, its not lazing on the sofa watching tv all day, a SAHM is hard work but I wouldnt have it any other way! good luck returning to work xx

  5. Devon Mama says:

    I went into maternity leave with the same lofty expectations of being able to achieve lots of things and my reality was very similar – some days we achieved nothing, not even getting dressed. I feel I wasted time by beating myself up over that when I should have been enjoying my little one. Enjoy your return to work, it's an adjustment but I bet you'll love it! x

  6. Kirsty McManus says:

    Rach, what even is an uber mum anymore? You've done amazing, maternity leave exceptions are just that, expectations. xo

  7. Georgina Clarke - Pregnancy & Baby Blog says:

    I am so not the mum I thought I'd be. I thought I would be at all of the play groups with a gaggle of mum friends, all organic food, following all the rules, baby napping away… LOL. I am still just as blasé, just the mum version!!

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