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Maternity leave – expectation vs. reality

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You might be itching to leave work for a few months, but what’s it really like during maternity leave?

woman with cartoon face

There are these optimistic thoughts:

Expectation:

“I’m going to catch up on all the shows and maybe finally start watching Mad Men!”

spongebob

Reality:

Before you’ve even made up your mind about whether or not you hate Don Draper, your waters will break and you’ll be rushing to the hospital. It always comes round quicker than expected.

Expectation:

“Even if my baby doesn’t sleep all the way through the night, I’ll just sleep whenever the baby sleeps. Easy!”

Reality:

Sleeping two hours at a time while having to get up in between to feed and soothe the baby? Yeah, sounds wonderful and simple. 

Those bags under your eyes will become a permanent fashion accessory.

Expectation:

“OMG, no more work, whoo!”

Reality:

Great! Now you only have the company of a small human who can only communicate to you by wailing and burping. Maybe Bob from the office wasn’t so bad after all.

Expectation:

“I’ll be a super mum - I’ll get so much done!”

woman cleaning

Reality:

Unless your baby manages to give you a hand, you’ll be too busy to even notice the vomit stain on your top, let alone care about the state of the house.

Expectation

“I’ll learn how to knit and make a beautiful baby blanket that’ll be cherished and passed on.”

Reality:

“Eh… ok, so it’s one over… and drop the…the what now? Hmmm… maybe I’ll just buy it on Etsy so it looks homemade…”

Expectation:

“I’m going to make a baby scrapbook and document everything!”

scrapbook

Reality:

Even with the best intentions, you’ll be way too preoccupied with keeping your baby safe to think about what colour pen to choose for your now abandoned scrapbook.

Expectation:

“Maternity leave will be so long. It’ll be ages before I have to go back to work!”

Reality:

And it’s over, just like that. Time flies by when you stop paying attention to the hours, days and weeks.

Expectation:

“I’ll totally work out to get my body back in shape!”

woman working out

Reality:

You’re likely to struggle finding time for a shower, let alone a workout.

And even if you do manage the downward-facing dog, that’s purely by accident, when you fall asleep, in the kitchen, with your face in porridge.

Expectation:

“I’ll meet lots of mummies who will pop round for cake and tea!”

mothers laughing

Reality:

Because there’s nothing better for sleep deprivation than other sleep deprived guests with their crying babies. #3AMclub anyone?

Expectation:

“I’ll make the nursery the most special thing ever. I saw some ideas on Pinterest.”

nursery

Reality:

Have you ever tried making something you saw on Pinterest? It’s impossible. Just don’t.

If you’re feeling a tad pessimistic about it all, it’s not all doom and gloom:

Expectation:

“I’ll never sleep again.”

emily blunt

Reality:

You, will, eventually. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but naptime will come. Soon, we promise.

Expectation:

“I’ll have zero time to myself. Showers? Reading a book? Checking my Facebook? No more!”

nobody got time for that meme

Reality:

Even when you do find time to yourself, guess who you’ll be missing the most? No, not Mad Men - your baby!

Chances are you’ll want to spend every second of your “free time” with your little bundle of joy – the rest can take care of itself.

Like a pregnancy, it’s hard to predict what your maternity leave will be like. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you achieve less than what you set out at the beginning.

Maternity leave is a magical time with your baby and even if you’re happy to be back in work, you’ll miss the precious time you’ve with your wee one.

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