Life after Maternity Leave

February 23, 2018

This last eleven months have been both the happiest and hardest of my life. The start of my maternity leave was a welcome relief. Sitting at a desk was exacerbating my bad back, and I was more than ready for a little time to take things easy for a short while.

I loved washing our baby boy’s tiny newborn clothes, folding them up in his drawers, ready and waiting for him. Packing and re-packing our hospital bags, wondering when we’d be throwing them in the car and dashing off to the hospital.

Setting up our side sleeper was really exciting, I batch cooked plenty of meals for us to enjoy once baby had arrived, and we worked our way through our NCT classes – meeting lots of lovely pairs of parents, equally excited to meet their little ones.

Three weeks later, after an encouraging growth scan and a third reduced movement scare, it was decided that our baby boy was ready to make his way into the world. We nervously made our way to the induction ward, and a couple of exhausting days later we were holding our baby in our arms.

The following ten months have been a whirlwind and a rollercoaster. We made it through the newborn days, learnt a lot about breastfeeding, survived Colic and we’ve been lucky enough to have a baby who more often than not sleeps through the night…albeit he likes to get up at half five these days!

Weaning has been fun and frustrating in equal measure, and I’m glad we embraced a mix of spoon feeding and finger foods. Teething has been a steep learning curve, and at ten months our baby has eight little milk teeth to show off.

Which brings me up to date, and to today, my first month without the security of maternity pay at the end of it.

For the first time in a decade, this last Friday of the month hasn’t been my pay day. At the start of the year I handed in my notice, and I won’t be returning to work in a traditional sense. Our baby boy won’t be starting nursery, and our time together hasn’t come to an end.

New Year was spent with a calculator, trying to work out how going back to work would affect our finances. With both nursery and doggy day care to consider, I quickly realised my take home pay would be negligible. We’d also have had to leave the house at daybreak, dropping off our baby and pups, ready for me to start work around eight.

Back home well past teatime, I really felt our family life would suffer. For the sake of a few pounds, all the upheaval didn’t feel worthwhile.

This little blog brings me a small income, and with time and effort, over the last year it has grown. While it’s certainly not going to bring in millions, it’s more than I would have earnt returning to work. I can also pick up freelance jobs, and I’ve loved taking on a few social media accounts for the security of regular work.

It’s no picnic though, and I certainly wouldn’t say the grass is necessarily greener. I try to work while our baby boy naps, or when he’s gone to bed. I’ve become an expert in time management, and it’s amazing how much I can fit into forty minutes these days. There is no time for writer’s block!

Over the last month there have been times where I’ve questioned whether we’ve made the right choice. Wondering if he’s noticed that sometimes he doesn’t have my full attention, questioning if he’d be having more fun playing with other babies at nursery.

Either way, I think I’d have been feeling guilty, keeping him at home or dropping him off at nursery. But to ease these feelings, over the last week I’ve found a few ways to make sure we are having quality time together. I’ll save those tips for another post though….

Bringing up our baby boy, blogging and office work, I knew I couldn’t balance it all. Something had to go, and obviously it wouldn’t be our little one. Thankfully we have the stability of my husband’s salary to rely on, but I’m hopeful blogging and freelance work will give us a little more disposable income over the coming year.

With a little tweaking and some serious time management, towards the end of this month we’ve found our rhythm in a new routine together. I’m cautiously optimistic for the month ahead, here’s hoping March brings us many more happy times together, as well as productive hours spent working!