Top 5 Things You Can Do On Maternity Leave | Motherhood

This post written in collaboration with Careers Australia
When you first have a baby you don't have a lot of spare time on your hands. Your days are filled with feeding, nappies and trying to get your baby to sleep. It feels like the days will never end and you'll never have a spare moment for yourself again. I promise that it isn’t going to last forever though, and the more spare time you do get, the more you’ll want to be making the most of it before you have to start work again.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my time spent on maternity leave and all the things I did and didn't do. Once you emerge from that newborn fog there are a lot of things you can do to use the time wisely, and I've put together a list of my Top 5 things you can do on maternity leave...

1. Learn

When I was on maternity leave with Zee there were so many things I wanted to do. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go back to the career I'd had before going on leave, and so I set about trying to figure out what it was I really wanted to do. A big part of that process, once I'd nailed down some ideas, was to get studying. I undertook an online graphic design course and it was such a great thing to do.

In today’s technology fuelled society, we no longer have to go to campus to study, nor do we have to commit ourselves to learning full-time. Education environments such as Careers Australia offer flexible courses and learning pathways, whether you’re up-skilling or studying something new. From certificates to diplomas, online learning environments are ideal for maternity leave, as you can study when you want and when you’re able—and further your career skills in the process!

2. Hobbies

If you’re on maternity leave and you’ve got some downtime, try exploring some long forgotten interests that you’ve previously had to put aside. Do you love to cook or paint? If so, get out your old equipment and rediscover what you love about it. Have you always wanting to learn to sew, or use Photoshop and InDesign? Download some tutorials and start now.

About 8 months after having Punky I rediscovered two of my loves, reading and blogging. Reading allowed me to leave my messy, baby-centric life behind and journey to new worlds. It gave me back a piece of myself I didn't realise I'd been missing. Rediscovering your hobbies is such a great way to remind yourself that you're not just an extension of your baby. Getting back in to blogging helped me to do the same thing. Which brings me to number 3...

3. Write

Motherhood is not always as straightforward as the books make it out to be, and this is usually because every woman’s experience is different. Oh how I wished in those early months of new motherhood that there was some instruction manual that would magically appear and tell me how to do all of the things I was struggling with.

If you’re feeling a little frustrated about your efforts or ridiculously proud of some technique you’ve just discovered; write about it. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a blog either; it can just be a journal for your own records or to use as a place to vent. It can also serve as a beautiful memoir of those precious moments to look back on when they hit their teen years. I am so glad I have my blog as a record of my life as a new Mum. The victories and the frustrations, the highs and the lows. I hope one day my girls will be able to look back on it and understand me a little better (and if nothing else it will make great fodder for them to work through with their therapists!).

4. Keep Fit

Taking it easy is definitely a priority for the first month or so, but after this, getting back into some form of fitness regime is the perfect way to boost your energy levels, get you outside and even help you to get a better night’s sleep. You don’t have to go overboard either; exercise should be incorporated just enough so you feel healthy and happy. Just because you have a new little person to look after, doesn’t mean you should stop looking after yourself.

I missed this lesson the first time around with Punky, but second time around it was amazing the difference getting some kind of exercise in each day made to my frame of mind after having Zee. I discovered a love of running, something I have been sorely missing since I had to stop. Even if it's just having a dance around the lounge room with your bigger kids, or packing them in the pram for a walk to the shop for milk, getting your body moving will do wonders for your mental state, I promise.

5. Catch-up

A great tip I got for things to do on maternity leave was to simply catch-up. Clear the clutter from your house, plant those beautiful roses you’ve been wanting to for ages, start a veggie garden, redecorate your house, visit friends you haven’t seen for ages, and finally get those photos printed and displayed.

It's amazing how much you can suddenly start to get done during those small periods of time when your baby finally starts napping through the day. I am way more productive now that I know the value of time and sleeping kids and I try to use that time as wisely as I can. Maternity leave with an older baby is a perfect time to get all the things sorted that you've been thinking about for ages, and you'll feel such a sense of accomplishment even ticking small things off your list.

Although there are plenty of options, the best thing any mum can do on maternity leave is to simply enjoy it—enjoy your baby, enjoy your time, and enjoy the chance to rediscover yourself. Even if you only have a short maternity leave, try to make sure you do at least one thing just for yourself every week, whether it's something from this list or something else entirely. You'll find it makes you a much happier woman which leads to a much happier mother to boot!

What sorts of things did you do on your maternity leave?


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