The Mumblings of a business Mum – how to survive maternity leave

No one mentioned the word RELENTLESS when they talked about what it was like to have a baby. Taking care of a baby is relentless. Knowing how hard I found my first experience of maternity leave, if someone had told me then that during my second maternity leave I would set up a business I would have laughed in their face. Hard.

A friend once told me that during maternity leave with her first baby, when it got to 5pm she would stand at her front window watching for her partner coming home. I was confused (and childless), surely spending all day with a baby isn’t that hard? I thought maternity leave would be easy, all I would have to do was take care of one baby.

HA! Oh, how I laugh at my pre-child self. I was full of naïve ideas and assumptions about what having a baby was like. In fact, I used to get annoyed when people told me how hard having a baby was and how tired I’d be. I thought, ‘I know it must be hard, I’m a teacher, I look after up to 30 small people all day…that’s hard!’ Yes, but I used to come home from school and have a nap, then make dinner, then do some work, nap some more and go to bed at a reasonable time for a night of undisturbed sleep. (This all seems like a very distant dream now!)

Anxious first-time mum doesn’t really cut it. It. Was. Hard. In fact, I cried most days of my early maternity leave. I met up with new mummy friends quite regularly but I was always so anxious about napping and feeding, and making sure I was doing things right that I could never fully relax. Some days I felt like it was just easier to stay at home, but that was lonely. Only having a baby to talk to can be lonely, no matter how cute they are. I watched a LOT of TV and never felt like I achieved anything; there was quite a few downs.

It wasn’t all bad, I did enjoy lots of time with my little one, but when the time came to go back after maternity leave I was excited to get stuck into work and have a focus again (as well as go to the loo by myself, see lots of people every day and eat lunch in relative peace!)

This time maternity leave was different from the start. I knew a little bit about what I was doing this time round and I had a focus – I started Norwich Mumbler! Since my Teeny Mumbler was born (on my husband’s birthday on the bathroom floor!) I’ve been working on it and having the website, chat group and all the Norwich Mumbler social media to keep up with has kept me going through the hazy, sleep-deprived days. A few people have said they don’t know how I’ve done it all but it’s never felt like work. Isn’t there a phrase ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’? I love teaching but it definitely feels like work, Mumbler doesn’t. This maternity leave I’ve always had something to do, people to message and a focus for each day, whether it was connecting with someone on the chat group or doing more research for the website.

The best thing is, although I do look forward to 5.20pm when my husband is home, I’m also enjoying my maternity leave days! BUT, whilst I don’t advise starting a business during maternity leave to everyone. What I can advise is to have a focus, even if it is something small like getting through the day, putting a load of washing on, having a shower or maybe even making it to a meet-up with other parents (I am working on the next Mumbler meet-up!) Having a focus, even a small one, will make all the difference to how you view the days of your maternity leave and hopefully mean you have more ups than downs.

Katrin and her fab website Norwich Mumbler is a partner of The Parent and Baby Show. Find her at the show where she will be on hand to chat all things Mumbler!

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