Maternity Leave: Expectation vs Reality

I worked up till a week before my due date, in the height of summer, so I was more than ready to start my maternity leave. I was looking forward to having more time to spend on me, baby and those projects I have been putting off. I had no close mummy friends yet for the “real” experience so phrases like ‘Bet you can’t wait to be on holiday for a year’ just fuelled my excitement. Oh the naivety!

Toddler in ball pit for Maternity Leave Expectation vs Reality Post

Expectation: Regular meet up with friends
Reality: Leaving the house became a monumental task. On the rare occasion I made it on time, I felt I deserved a medal. In the premises, there’s no space for a pram so there’s awkward chair/table shuffling. The rest of the ladies have makeup on but I had just about enough time to put a brush through my hair after I parking. Then it’s time to leave and the faff restarts in reverse.

Expectation: Freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want
Reality: I could watch boxsets, read books, start the projects I had been putting off for a while. Errrr, no! I had a new boss with very different working hours – 24/7. I got short breaks when he slept but that was not always guaranteed. These breaks were initially spent tidying, washing, eating – anything but sitting down really. Later on, that all changed as you can read below!

Expectation: I’ll become a domestic goddess
Reality: After spending the first few months trying to keep on top of the chores and the cooking, I gave in and accepted my situation. Take aways and easy food became the norm. No matter how much tidying I did, the mess always reappeared. Any clanking woke him anyway and when awake he just got in the way. Anyone inviting themselves round would be greeted with ‘Excuse the mess’.

Expectation: Daily fun mummy-son activities
Reality: Every baby-related activity was stressful. Baby was either crying, wanting food or not just interested. I had dreams of swimming and music lessons but with very little sleep just going for a walk was enough for me!

Expectation: I’ll be back at work after 6 months
Reality: After the whirlwind fun with the baby, I thought I would be ready for some adulting about 6 months in. But even with the lack of sleep and all that babies come with, I could not do it. I couldn’t imagine not seeing him everyday, his smiles and missing his “firsts”. I managed to push it to 10 months but even then, it was hard. It may not have been a holiday but it was an amazing bonding time.

I am sure I had other plans for maternity leave but with number 2 due soon, my brain has gone all sieve-like. I have set my expectations for my second leave very low. In fact non-existent. Keeping 2 kids alive is my main goal followed by maintaining my sanity however I can and trying to hold on to the happy moments because those are the memories that keep me going!

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9 thoughts on “Maternity Leave: Expectation vs Reality

  • May 1, 2018 at 9:23 am

    I had to chuckle when I read this. My expectations were also sky-high when I was pregnant with my first. I very much relate to the reality check! I am also pregnant with my second currently, due end of August – when are you due?

  • May 3, 2018 at 6:13 am

    It’s so funny what we actually end up doing! My son was premature so I hadn’t left work yet!

  • May 3, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Oh yes I feel your pain. I stayed home for 15months and though I loved being with her it was also a struggle.

  • May 3, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    I have no memory of the beginning of my maternity leave with my first – just a blurry vision of the sofa and a lot of days in pjs… I have no idea how we managed to keep him (or us!) alive!

  • May 5, 2018 at 1:42 am

    i couldn’t agree more. I have now 2 kids, both are very different in their daily needs, and I am now expecting number 3! I think I’m mad! however, there needs change constantly, and trying to keep up feels like it will never end, I am learning to take a break when I can and get some me time, the rest can wait, the house can stay messy, as long as we all get fed, and are happy, that’s all that matters. As they grow it gets a bit easier, the house gets messier, but I’m learning that’s part of being a parent, trying to keep up is impossible! your doing great, being a stay at home mum is not easy that’s for sure. x

  • July 27, 2018 at 4:54 am

    Oh, this is a great article for women that are expecting to have a baby! My mother is always telling me what to expect so I loved how your article made reference to what really happens!! I loved this article!

  • September 11, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    This is so accurate! I am currently on maternity leave and like you I was so naive on how much I would would be able to do, because babies sleep most of the day don’t they? As my baby didn’t get the ‘babies must sleep’ memo because from 2 weeks old he spent daytime hours awake. Still does now at 6 months which means. Nothing. Gets. Done!! Takeaways are eaten quite a lot in this house too. Thanks for the laugh & good luck with number 2 xx


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