It was a big decision to take some time off from the business last year for our third, and definitely final baby, Jowan. I guess I faced the conundrum that many mummies-to-be face, how much time can I afford to take off? Can I cope with permanent tiredness? How much accumulated dust can the human body withstand?
Third time around I had some idea of what to expect over the next twelve months or so. It won’t all be babymoons, play dates and peaceful strolls around the park. Getting dressed is an achievement, getting sleep is necessary and getting out of the house is always a possibility tomorrow.
In this Instagram-age of filtered aspiration there is a real pressure on new mums to have the perfect maternity leave, but social media can only provide us with glimpses of this – ups and downs. Here are my tips for surviving, and maybe even enjoying maternity leave
- Take off as long as you can afford.
I’ll always remember my stepfather saying to me “if everyone waited until they could afford to have children, nobody would have any.” It’s amazing how you can stretch your finances when you really need to. You’ll be flooded with gifts for new baby, grandparents will almost certainly help with the big purchases, plus you’ll save money from having no social life for at least the next twelve months. You’ll never get this time again so take all the time that you can.
2. Have some time before your due date for you.
Giving birth is exhausting (for most of us but especially me) and so is waddling around at work. Once baba is along you’ll be revisiting your definition of “tired” so take some time before your due date to recharge your batteries. As lovely as a babymoon is, I think I nearly had as much fun before my first baby (Jacob) lying on the sofa and eating olives.
3. Pace yourself.
It’s important to get out into the big wide world with baba, to do things together (like Caterpillar Music!) and meet other mummies but be realistic about how much you can do and how soon you can do it – especially if you are tied to a catheter as experience has shown! While excess baby weight can get us all a bit down, there is plenty of time to try to shift this.
4. Take all the help you’re offered and if none is forthcoming, ask for it.
I find that a great way to deal with nerves or imposter syndrome is to remember that in life all of us are making it up as we go along. With our first baby I was determined to show the world that I knew what I was doing and could be a capable mother. Because of this I turned down help, putting a greater strain on me and my other half. By baby number three I had friends cleaning the house for me, families preparing meals and my other half taking all the children out. Don’t be afraid to tell those relatives who turn up just to hold the baby to do the washing up or run the vacuum cleaner round.
We’re all different. There is no right way or wrong way to feel when you’ve had a baby. Share how you are feeling and if you are really worried about how you are feeling then share that with a professional. There is all kinds of support available to new mums from baby and toddler groups to breastfeeding networks and health visitors. Don’t struggle alone.
6. Download plenty of podcasts.
It can feel lonely feeding a hungry baby in the small hours but I remember a good friend reminding me that thousands of mothers will be doing the same around the world. Listening to podcasts is a great way to feel connected and to stay awake. At the moment I love Cheltenham Maman’s Good Mum, Bad Mum, Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place and the Deliciously Ella podcasts.
My own maternity leave has come now to an end. In those long cluster feeding nights I often dreamt about how my return to work would look and what I needed to achieve for our now not so little family. I’m very excited to relaunch our family run business Caterpillar Music Cheltenham & Tewkesbury.
Our Montessori teaching inspired classes are set to continue with classes now being offered five mornings a week. We are delighted that the wonderful Gemma is going to be doing some of the teaching and I am super excited to be donning the Caterpillar Music t-shirt once again and reaching for my tambourine.
A Guest Blog from MumBoss Jems of Caterpillar Music Cheltenham and Tewkesbury
If you’d like to try Caterpillar Music out, then they offer free no-obligation trials and children under three months old are free. You can even bring your catheter!
Website – www.caterpillarmusic.com