Five things I’ve learnt from maternity leave

With exactly a week to go before I return to the daily grind, the Final Countdown is on. Here are the top five things I’ve learnt from my year off…

1. There’s no such thing as boredom.

I asked DH before my maternity leave was due to start, “shall I do a Master’s degree? To pass the time?” After having DS1 during my undergraduate degree, I thought it would be perfect timing to have a year off work, look after a baby and gain another qualification. Young fresh-faced me may have stood up to that challenge – the slight older more worn me eventually decided I probably could do with a break. And you know, spend more time with the baby.

2. I’m not as introverted as I thought.

I felt enlightened after reading Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution and watching her TED Talk. She and Myers & Briggs had me down to a T. But I found myself signing up to all sorts; baby yoga, Baby Sensory, Peas’n’Pods, the PTA for the older one at school. What’s more, I found I thrived around people and actually enjoyed small talk – yeah I know, right?

3. Yes, I can do it all over again.

A year ago I was gearing up to send my eldest off to school at the same time as welcoming a new baby to our family. I was past night feeds, controlled crying and potty training, not to mention shunting trucks and hauling freight. I was ready for homework, show and tell, and tales of who pushed who in the playground. What if I forgot how to do something vital? I found myself plunged in a world of nappies and clock watching for the next feed, Googling the odd bit to fill in the gaps. Within a few weeks, I was in the full swing of being mummy to a little once again and it turns out, it wasn’t that difficult after a routine was in place.

4. Change is scary.

There’s a real sense of panic when I think too much about going back to work. It’s not that I don’t want to work; if DH ever suggested I could be a SAHM, I think I’d be quite sad at that prospect. I felt a similar fear a few weeks leading up to maternity leave. It’s the new era, change, how our routine will be turned upside down. The lack of control I have over the situation is probably more overwhelming than the change itself. I absolutely love how interesting my job is and if I think about the job in itself without all the baggage, I’m actually quite excited.

5. I bloody hate cleaning.

Gone are the days of SAHMs scrubbing the floors and wiping down the windows. DH finds it hilarious when I say my week has been so busy, I haven’t found the time to pick up the Hoover. I can’t wait until I can legitimately ask DH to do his fair share.

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Empty Promises.

That is exactly what New Year’s resolutions are. I won’t pretend that going to the gym is something I want to do, or even be fooled in thinking I could keep it up.

It baffles me when one chooses to lose weight, quit smoking, generally be a nicer person at this particular point of the year. I assume we all know how the calendar works, so why do we pick the first of January? Surely choosing a superficial turning point discredits the real objective.

Today did not feel any different from yesterday and I have had no desire to celebrate writing ’12’ instead of ’11’. If anything, I am mourning 2011, for the turning of the year only means I am forever ageing. Oh yes, the pessimist in me strikes again.

This does not mean we should all remain stagnant in reminiscing what’s gone, nor does it mean future goals shouldn’t be set. I have lots of goals and time frames for them, but to suddenly declare them because of the change of date seems all a bit odd to me. My goals are ongoing and do not necessarily start at the beginning of each year.

I like to think my goals are about the bigger picture, not just for me, but my family. To see how many successes we can accumulate in a year, as opposed to limit ourselves trivially to eat less biscuits. Success shouldn’t be measured upon a list made up during the January blues, but something we all work towards in continual progress. Being loosely committable because it’s the trend to make resolutions takes away from the seriousness of your goals; they should be applicable at any given point of the year.