Tag Archives: maternity leave

Learning to let go: Prioritising Yourself

Letting go is hard to do…..but it’s the right thing to do

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Learning to let go and focus on yourself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Go of Work

I left work last week to start my maternity leave. I found it really difficult actually, even though I was pretty relieved to be leaving as I felt pretty tired and fat and ready to be at home and get ready for the new arrival. Why did I find it hard? I found it hard because I had to let go of the things I had control of at work. I had to hand things over to other people. I couldn’t finish some pieces of work, and it was hard to leave something half-finished for someone who is a complete perfectionist. I also couldn’t do some things at work due to risk, and I had to let other people do these things for me. It felt a little disempowering, to be honest.

I found myself getting more worked up about these little things, as I felt such possession over my work and my role, I was struggling to let go, even though bizarrely it was my choice to have another baby which led me to the situation in the first place! I’ve never been good with transitions, and this is just another case of me  having to learn to move on and let go.

Let Go of Maternity Leave

It reminded me of going back to work after maternity leave. I had to let go in reverse that time. I had created a lovely maternity leave bubble, and having spent almost every day for a year with Nancy I found it really hard to hand her over to other people to look after as I went to work. I knew her little ways, what she liked to eat, how she liked to sleep. I couldn’t imagine how she would cope with other people doing these things with her, and I really did struggle initially when others were out having fun with her, whilst I was sat at work.

Over time, it became easier. Life become routine, normal and everyone settled into their lives and roles. Time and space is a good healer. Just as now, sitting here in my living room watching Netflix, any feelings of stress about my job have all dissipated. I can’t even remember what I was getting so het up about. I’ve let go, I’ve relaxed, I’ve cleared my mind of the stress that was balled up in there the past few weeks and I’m focusing on the next task – getting this bubba out. Gulp.

Let Go of Stress

This has got me thinking in general about trying to  let go and eradicate stress in my life. The past 12 months have been highly stressful and for a while my mental health suffered. Since this time I’ve tried hard to not let things escalate.

Stress in general can block you from achieving what you want, as can other people. I find I’m always the person people come to with a problem or an issue;  I do like to help others but there comes a time for all of us when the stresses and worries of others can be reflected back onto us, and we suddenly feel responsible for other people and their actions, or desperately trying to think of solutions for other people. It becomes even more frustrating when those you are trying to help, and asked for help, don’t even take the advice or listen to your solutions, meaning you have worried and stressed about something for nothing!

You shouldn’t feel guilty for prioritising yourself in your life.

Focus on YOU

So, how do you let go? How do you drop these things from your mind when initially they can seem all-consuming? I think you have to focus on one thing: yourself.

What makes you happy.

What can you actually do.

Your life. Your dreams. Your wishes.

Doing things for myself and getting interested in crafts and creative tasks have really helped me to calm and relax. It is amazing how your mind can empty when you pick up a crochet hook or start reading a book. It’s important to remember to make time for yourself amidst the work, family, friends, babies.

Let Go of trying to fix others

I’ve also learnt that I can’t fix everything, or everyone. I can help as much as I can, but there comes a time when you just have to stop and regroup, and not let it totally consume you.

I could sit here and worry and stress about a hundred different things – and yes, sometimes things do take over my mind and I find it hard to shake off. But I try my best not to worry about things I have no control over, or that don’t even directly affect me. I can’t solve everyone’s problems and I’ve realised that in order to make myself happy, I have to focus on my life, and what I want from it. You shouldn’t feel guilty for prioritising yourself in your life.

Letting go of all of these things is empowering.

If people want you in their life, they will make the effort, as will you. If you’ve managed to work out how to juggle your life, solve your problems, others can do too. If people choose not to accept your advice, that is up to them. You are not irreplaceable at work, someone else can do just as good a job as you, and they will – and that’s OK. Choosing to focus on your family and nothing else for a while is not selfish.

Letting go of all these things is hard, but it is the right thing to do. Getting caught up in all of these things is not healthy and will only make you feel bad – usually for no reason at all.

Let. It. Go.

(How tempted were you to start singing Frozen songs then, eh?)

A year at work

I have been back at work for a year now after my Maternity Leave. Part of me can’t really fathom that it’s been a  year,  or even the fact that I was actually pregnant over 2 years ago. Time has just flown by.

To start with, working was tough. I had just got into a little routine with Bubs and I was enjoying my time with her, at last. Not that I hadn’t enjoyed the whole ten months, but things were just getting that little bit easier.

It was hard leaving her with other people, even if they were family. I felt jealous, and worried that I would not have any influence over her life. Crazy I know. Having a Wednesday off has meant that I still get some time with her, and for that I have been really grateful.

Bubs started nursery in September, and that was hard. I couldn’t help but feel guilty and awful leaving her crying with strangers. My mind racing with all sorts of thoughts. But she has really enjoyed going, and seems to be really thriving from the interaction, and all the activities she can do there. She is really growing up, and I can see that she doesn’t need me so much. However I am the first person she calls for in the morning, and during the night. I know we have a bond now, a bond that doesn’t matter whether I am with her 24 hours a day or not. Her smile when she picks me up from work just tells me everything I need to know about that.

So, actual work. It’s been very hard to get myself back into a working frame of mind. I didn’t care much about what I was doing initially, my heart wasn’t in it, I was going through the motions. That is not like me – I am passionate about my role, and my profession, and have also strived to achieve more and do better. But going back I just felt like the enthusiasm was sucked right out of me.

One thing I felt was that going back to work – nothing had changed. Nothing. I was expecting to go back and there have been some changes, but there wasn’t anything at all. I felt like I had woken up from a dream, and that having a baby hadn’t even happened at all.

I think it started to change about 6 months or so ago. Life became normal, work wasn’t a novelty, we had a morning routine, childcare was sorted and things did seem easier.

I had to finish my degree, which was very difficult to start again after  having the break, but when I had finished it, I really felt energised and good about myself 0- it had made me think about my job and how much I am interested in the field I work in.

Another thing which really has helped, was that I have been able to go on secondment within the same place of work, but in a different team. Having this change has really helped me to get back in the zone, and feel like I am using my brain again.

It’s been an emotional year, a rollercoaster of a year in many respects. I feel more myself than I have done since having Bubs, and I feel more confident in who I am, and what I can do. In the end, I think I am glad I went back to work. I have loved having a day off each week with Bubs, and this has given me some special one to one time with her that I have craved. I have also liked the fact I can come to work and be ‘me’, not just a ‘mum’, if that makes sense.

Life has just started to feel like normal again.

When should you start your maternity leave?

Looking back at my maternity leave, it was a time I will remember and cherish. I will never have that time again, well not in the same way – when I started my maternity leave it was just me, and now I have bubs! (Obviously, as that’s why I was on maternity leave. Duh.). What I mean is, I shall never have that alone time, with myself, or with the baby in fact, again in such a way.

Choosing when to start your maternity leave can be a tricky choice. You want to spend as much time with your baby as possible, so many try to work as close to their due date as they can. However, I also wanted some me time. Selfish, perhaps, but getting your head around having a baby, making sure you’re ready, physically and mentally, is so important. Also, I just wanted to sleep a bit.

I was due on 3rd February 2013. I left work on 31st December 2012 – quite apt I think, new starts, new year, new beginnings. I took 2 weeks annual leave, so I didn’t actually start my Maternity Leave until 14 January. One tip I would say, is try to save as much annual leave as possible so that you can take some before the start of your maternity leave.

I had so much fun on those 2 weeks annual leave. I slept, I stayed in my pyjamas all day, I ate what I liked and I watched a lot of crappy TV. I washed all the little newborn baby clothes, and couldn’t even contemplate how this baby would look. I listened to a lot of music, and downloaded a lot from iTunes. I listened to a lot of music from the 90s – reminiscing of days past. Thinking of the last, eating food from my childhood, I really had a thing about that. I cleaned the house in a nesting fever. I thought a lot about what was going to happen. I was scared. I cried. I started to think I didn’t want a baby – what the hell was I doing?! I panicked. But talking to my partner,my family and friends, and having time to address these concerns was invaluable.

As my due date drew near, my sister spent the week with me. It was lovely. We went to Nandos more times than it was healthy to, we watched movies, went to Ikea and got lost, chatted about so many things. she dyed my hair and made me look pretty for Labour. We did all we could to try to get this baby out. I really enjoyed this time. It was nice, as I knew I’d never have that freedom or ability to be so spontaneous again. I knew my life would change, so I spent time enjoying it whilst I could.

I know for some people, this could be seen as time wasted. It certainly didn’t feel it to me. I am so glad I had a bit of time before the baby came to completely de-work, de-stress and to get ready for what was to come. As it was, I ended up being 2 weeks overdue and being induced. By the time she came, I was very ready to see her, and for my pregnancy to end. I think having all that time before really helped me to come to terms with this. By the time my waters had been broken, and the drip was set off in my arm, I was ready – to be a Mum, and to start my Maternity Leave really and truly.q

Me Time

Time to be ‘Me’

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have some time to myself. I had no idea what to do with it. It sounded like an oxymoron. Time? to Myself? A relative had offered to look after Bubs, and I accepted it, but didn’t think about what I would do in the time. I hadn’t had the chance to choose what to do, for a while. Usually when someone has her, I am going somewhere, or doing something else. This was the first time I could just ‘do’ something. Anything! I felt like a child in a sweet shop.

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It is only 5 months since I had Bubs, but in that relatively short time I seem to have forgotten how to be just me. What on earth did I use to do with myself? What did I do with my time? I couldn’t contemplate it. My mind may be frazzled from pregnancy and having a baby, but it is usually filled up with a list as long as my arm of what I need to do in the day, and that is usually baby related.

Until I had a baby, I don’t think I really took time into that much consideration. I mean, I had to be on time for work, for appointments, I had to make sure I was at the right place at the right time, as it were. But I don’t really remember ever thinking to myself, Oh, I had 2 hours to do this or that. Oh how times have changed. I used to have weekends to myself, when Dan was working. I used to just sit there, idly watching TV, drinking tea, and eventually I’d decide to get showered and dressed. Oh how I should have made more of my time! The day would tick on by, and I would not notice at all. Nowadays every part of my life appears to be run by time, and jobs, and things I need to do.

So, what did I do in my two hours baby free? I walked to the shops near my home. I know, I really got out, didn’t I?! I went to print off some baby pictures in Boots, for a scrap-book I want to put together (ironically I never find the time to actually stick anything in it) and then I went to Costa’s, ordered a Panini, and a drink, and I just sat there, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’d never sat on my own in Costa’s before – I never had the time for that before. Ha. What I mean is, I could never be bothered to go and do something like that before. In fact, I would have never have done that before.

I walked about the shops, and in the sunshine, it was lovely. I felt like myself again. I felt I could just take a little break from everything. Because now my life is run by time. Time to feed, time to sleep, time to change, time for baby groups, time for tea, time for appointments. No time for me. No time just to ‘be’ and do nothing at all. When Bubs is asleep, I get to write this blog, but then I have to forgo other things I also want to do such as read my book, or eat lunch, or paint my nails. Everything I do, I now have to plan ahead. What do I want to do when she naps today? Even when she is asleep I am having to do things to make sure when she wakes up, everything is sorted.

Expectations

It also struck me that I had to get out of the house in order to have some ‘me’ time. The baby was home, so I had to get out. So I couldn’t just lie on my bed, read a book, or paint my nails. The expectation was I left the house. Which on a lovely sunny day, was great. If I am in the house, and so is the baby, people don’t really appreciate that I may want time to myself, and so interrupt me or basically don’t give me the chance to just ‘be’ in my own home. I was even really unwell one day, and I kept having to get up and see to the baby! It amazes me sometimes that people ask me for help, when I have to just get on with it, and work it out as I go along!

It makes me wonder why it is me that has to do this. My partner has the luxury of being able to come and go as he pleases. Don’t get me wrong, he helps me out a lot with the baby, but that’s it: he helps me with the baby. I don’t think it is ever the other way around. Is it fair to expect me to forfeit all time I have, for that smiley happy little girl? When Dan and I discuss working vs being here on maternity leave, the assumption is that whilst I am not at work, I am at home and that equals free time and how lucky I am to have it. Dan talks about working 8 hours a day and then coming home and having to help with the baby. Where does my shift start/end? There is no start, there is no end. I am expected to carry on, and on, and on. I love being with her, don’t get me wrong. What I am trying to point out, is that my time is not my own, not anymore.

Don’t Burn Out

Going to Britmums was a wonderful break from it all, and it was a very good use of my time.It was refreshing to feel released from responsibility, from having that never-ending shift. I felt so much better, and when I got back, I felt invigorated, not just about my blog, but also about my baby. I had missed her, and it made me enjoy the time I had with her again.

So when I got back yesterday, to a smiley, happy little thing, who is currently able to shuffle herself off her mat, and appears to be doing amazing things everyday, I felt happy, pleased and again, invigorated. It doesn’t take a lot of time, it doesn’t mean going to London every time, but just having a little break, a little time to be me, really can make you feel so much better. And I think we all need this, some time to ourselves. I would say to any new mum, or any pregnant woman, hell in fact any Mother, try to make sure you get some ‘me’ time, as you can burn out very quickly without it.

What do you think about your time? Do you have time to be yourself? What advice would you give to me or anyone, about finding time to be yourself after having a baby? Leave a comment in the box below!

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