Ten things to put on a Maternity Leave Bucket List

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The half term holiday was a bit of a milestone for me, because the next six weeks are the last my son and I have together – just us two.

It’s the final countdown to the end of my maternity leave.

My partner, Luke, is a teacher in his final half term of the school year. After that, Harry and I will be lucky enough to have him home with us for the summer holidays.

Those of you who have read my earlier blogs will know I am currently unemployed, having been made redundant while I was pregnant last year.

The beginning of Luke’s time away from work will signal the finale for my ‘time off’ and the start of getting to go back to work.

It will sound strange to some, but I’m not feeling too sad about this time being over. Since losing my job, I have found myself desperate to get my career up and running again.

Not knowing what I would be doing come the end of this year made me nervous and I have found it hard to enjoy my ‘time off’ when I don’t know what I will be going back to.

That said, I have had a wonderful (also tiring and frustrating) time with my son; I have learnt so much about myself and done so many lovely things.

I was reminded recently that on the day when I came home from work unexpectedly early, fearing the worst and terrified of what the future would hold, my two wonderful best friends gave me some advice.

‘Make a list of all the good things about the coming year. All the things you want to do, all the positives in your life.’

So I did, and I’ve referred back to that list several times since. Whenever I’ve been feeling fed up or upset about what happened to me, I look at that list and pick something nice to do.

I wanted to share my list with you in the hope it might inspire you if you’re a Mum-to-be, or perhaps if you have finished your maternity leave, it will make you smile and help you look back on it fondly.

The list was made when I was about three months pregnant so, as you’d expect, it’s changed over the past 18 months… I’ve added in a few extras that have come to mind since becoming a Mum.

Without further ado: the 10 things on my ‘Maternity Leave Bucket List’.

  1. Turn off my alarm: After the shock of losing my job, life passed for a while in something of a blur. But there is one moment I remember clearly, a moment of cheer amongst what had been a really gloomy day: turning off my alarm. It’s easy to get caught up in the monotonous grind of day-to-day life, so knowing I now had a chance to get away from that for a while was actually a huge relief. I don’t always remember it, but there were some positives about that hard time.IMG_i4558a
  2. Watch Jeremy Kyle every day. I’m really sorry, having spoken out against stereotyping Mums who are out of work and claiming benefits, I’m about to completely cement the image… there is barely a day that goes by without me watching the controversial chat show host. I’d like to say something sensible about it being a chance to reflect on the wider issues of society… but, honestly, I just think it’s great entertainment! In my defence, Harry loves watching it too… I blame him.IMG_20170608_214239
  3. Explore Yorkshire. I’m hoping to blog soon about my long-running issue with finding a place to call ‘home’. Born in Ipswich and moving to Cambridge when I was young, I went to uni in West London and then moved to Yorkshire when I graduated. Even up here I’ve moved about a bit: three separate towns in Barnsley, before moving to Wakefield and then Leeds. I don’t think it was until I found out I was pregnant that I finally felt settled, I finally had a reason to call Yorkshire my home. I truly adore this county and was determined to use the time off work to get to know and explore the area. Stay tuned on this blog for a series in the summer of my top places to visit in God’s own county!IMG_20170608_220559_862
  4. Start a new blog: A long held dream for me, I finally began this blog in January of this year. I had previously started a blog while I was studying journalism at uni, but it was about football so the topics to write about were limited. And all I really wanted to do was write. I’d long been thinking about writing a blog that talked about the troubles of finding work, so that I could pass on my experience to help others. But when I was made redundant, I had a bit of a twist to the tale – finding work to fit around a child was a new experience for me and I wanted to take people on the journey with me. This blog is a labour of love and I’m really enjoying writing it – I hope that with a bit more time once Harry is in nursery I will be able to make it reach its full potential.picsart_01-03-03-41-30
  5. Fill my photo albums: Its one of those jobs you spend most of your life thinking about but keep putting off. I figured I’d have loads of time during my maternity leave to sort through my pile, put them all in chronological order and file them away in little photo albums. *Inserts several laughing emojis*. I did start doing it and I am determined I will finish the job! My aim is to turn it into a family activity when my sister’s and parents are visiting, we can laugh at the photos of us in the 90’s and they can help me work out which birthday it was when I wore a rather fetching home-made jumpsuit.

That was my list at the start of my time away from work. I have managed to achieve all but one of them, although I still have lots more places to visit in Leeds and Yorkshire.

But what of the things that have been added to the list since I became a Mum?

  1. Get used to housework: I’m not a ‘house wife’ type person, I’m too disorganised for chores and too unmotivated by anything that doesn’t involve chocolate, wine or football. At least, that was the case until I had Harry. For me, one of the hardest things about motherhood has been adapting to the amount of housework, I was completely unprepared for the need to be so sensible and its been a baptism of fire for me to get things right. I’ve learnt pretty quickly that if you don’t do the washing up, it makes life harder the next day. If I want an hour to myself at night, I’ve got to get all the chores done during the day, with a baby hanging off me. It just wasn’t something I considered before he came along, I know better now.
  2. Learn to cook: I’m okay at cooking, but not a huge fan. Despite my own Mum encouraging me to cook with her in my younger years, it took until uni for me to bother to learn how to do it. So, as Harry has hit the weaning stage, it’s been another thing that I’ve found really hard to get used to. We have been baby-lead weaning meaning that, all of a sudden, I’m having to plan six different meals a day: three for Harry and three for me. To be honest, I begrudge having to plan one. I’ve gone from popping a ready meal in the microwave (and, more often than not, pouring a glass of wine to accompany it), to worrying about whether the meals contain enough veg and if he’s going to be able to pick it up to eat it. I’ve enjoyed the experience overall, but I had never even contemplated the ‘chef’ element of being a Mum.IMG_20170608_170924
  3. Go to baby groups: While I was pregnant, several of my friends said to me, ‘you should find some baby groups to join, the support of people going through the same thing as you will be really important’. I cringed at the thought, I’m an ‘unmumsy Mum’ and didn’t want my personality and social life to be defined by the fact I had now reproduced. As usual, my friends were right: the baby groups have been a lifesaver! After all my worry, I’ve found the women I’ve met are just like me! There’s Sarah who I met at a weaning group – her son is called Harry too and he’s just a week younger than my Harry. There’s Pippa who I met at a group in a pub (I know, how very me!), we got chatting after discovering no-one else could make the meeting, but we deciding we still needed the excuse for lunch in a bar. Then there’s the wonderful Facebook group I’m on which has been a never ending source of love and support, I’ll tell you more about them another time.IMG_20170608_213913
  4. Changing my wardrobe: I was quite lucky during my pregnancy because I didn’t need to buy many specific ‘maternity’ clothes: baggy items were the order of the day, jeggings and maxi dresses became my new best friends. Then after he arrived and we settled into the routine of breastfeeding, I topped up my wardrobe with ‘feedable items’ – I had an endless supply of Primarni shirts that I could unbutton easily to feed Harry whenever he needed me to. The trouble is, I still wear all of these things! As I type this I sit on my sofa in the dungarees that I bought to fit over my bump and make me look very much like a ‘mumsy Mum’. My wardrobe needs a revamp, but it’s just so comfy!
  5. Changing my wardrobe: I was quite lucky during my pregnancy because I didn’t need to buy many specific ‘maternity’ clothes: baggy items were the order of the day, jeggings and maxi dresses became my new best friends. Then after he arrived and we settled into the routine of breastfeeding, I topped up my wardrobe with ‘feedable items’ – I had an endless supply of Primarni shirts that I could unbutton easily to feed Harry whenever he needed me to. The trouble is, I still wear all of these things! As I type this I sit on my sofa in the dungarees that I bought to fit over my bump and make me look very much like a ‘mumsy Mum’. My wardrobe needs a revamp, but it’s just so comfy!
  6. Doing my nails: This one is ludicrous, I know it is, but as its one of only two things on this list I haven’t yet achieved, I’m determined to get it done. When was the last time you did your nails? Last month I headed happily to the final football game of the season. Traditionally I would attend this with perfectly filed nails painted blue and white, with little bits of glitter placed over the top. On my way to the game I asked myself that very same question… and the answer is: I really don’t know. While I was pregnant I really couldn’t be bothered, and nowadays I just don’t have the time! I’m sure it would be nice to sit and do them of an evening when Harry’s gone to bed but, having been kept busy all day with my head and hands constantly doing something, I rather like vegging out in front of the telly! And, really, is there really any point? Surely it’ll just chip off when my hands spend the next day in the washing up bowl!?

I hereby declare that I will make it my mission over the next six weeks to sort out all my photos, explore some more of Yorkshire and to finally, finally do my nails like a grown up.

 


What was the favourite thing you did on your maternity or paternity leave? Did you do anything completely unexpected? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

 

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35 comments

  1. Well, I’m a SAHM, so it’s a bit different, but yes, a moms group is essential! I do have an alarm, but only so I can get ready before my kids wake up. I love the goals of changing the wardrobe – I agree! I put on my list “clean the house deeply,” but that’s such a joke with two kids….

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  2. What a lovely read! How long ago did you move to Yorkshire? I’m originally from Manchester but live just outside of Wetherby with Lisa my partner and Monkey (9 months) and love it here, so much to see! #ThatFridayLinky

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    • Thank you! I’ve lived up here for eight and a half years now, gosh that sounds a lot when I write it down! You are absolutely right, there is so much to see here and it’s beautiful. I’m planning on doing a series in the summer of different places to visit in the county, perhaps you would like to take part?

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  3. It’s amazing how quickly a year goes, I’m still trying to get my shit together since having the kids and one of them is now at secondary school! Enjoy your summer and good luck with all your plans! I bought a home gel nail kit and I love it!

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  4. Maternity leave flies by so quickly – I still haven’t finished sorting the photos in to books from when I started my first maternity leave 7 yeas ago!

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  5. I’m currently on maternity leave and the blogging and photo albums are definitely on my list too! Both of which are in progress. I’m also terrible with the house-work, it still seems like I have no time even though I’ve got nothing else to do haha! #thatfridaylinky

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  6. oh how i can relate, the house work is a big thing, i spend all day pottering around doing washing…its a mary poppins basket…it never ends! im not that sort of organised sorted house wife either. im very unorgised, but always aim to be more organised…oh the photo albums, i started when i was in the UK, and now they sit in a cupboard waiting to be finished while more photos keep building up….i like the idea of making it a family thing, doing it when they visit and looking back at memories, great idea!!

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  7. It’s amazing how life’s priorities change when you become a parent! I find it impossible to do housework because Zach wants my attention ALL the time! #anythinggoes

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  8. I’m just about to start my second mat leave and have been trying to reflect back on my first to see how to do things differently this time around. I feel the first time around I tried to do a lot, baby classes, play dates, blogs etc this time around I want to enjoy life at a bit of a slower pace and savour each moment as a year really does fly by!!

    I would also love to finish the game of thrones books 🤞🤞

    #twinkytuesdays

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  9. I so badly need to do photo albums too! Please post those pictures of the home made jumpsuit! LOL! I’ve actually started getting my nails done in a salon every 2 weeks, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I feel like I always look put together if at least my nails look nice–even if I’m in yoga pants and a messy bun! Enjoy your maternity leave! It flies by! #twinklytuesdays

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  10. Lots of lovely ideas – I’ve just started my second round of maternity leave and can’t wait to have more time to explore new places and focus a bit more time on my blog 🙂 #TwinklyTuesday

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  11. I made such a huge list of things to do on maternity leave and it was the best time of my life. I really found maternity leave an opportunity to change…everything. During nap times I worked on launching a new career for myself and I cherished every moment I got to spend with my little girl and my family, even during the times that were so tough with a new baby! I absolutely love your bucket list, I definitely watched Jeremy Kyle a little bit too much too and I loved not setting an alarm! 😀

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  12. My favourite thing has always been baby sensory. I find it such a wonderfully special hour of the week and have done it with both of my boys. I’m on my second time at home now (and will be for the foreseeable future) and I still haven’t got a grip on the housework!!! Enjoy the next 6 weeks! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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  13. My NCT group once shared our unrealistic expectations for maternity leave. It was a hilarious conversation about our naive younger selves who thought they would have time to learn a language or redecorate a room!

    My favourite thing is having a suddenly sunny day and spontaneously deciding to go to the beach or take a picnic to the park. The flexibility of maternity leave is great (and also very hard to adapt to!)

    Also: wine.

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  14. I’m sorry you were made redundant whilst pregnant, that’s the last thing you need. But having that time off, certainly pays off to get hints done and be lazy.

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  15. Aw I bet you are so looking forward to those six weeks in the summer, we loved them last year when Dex was a newborn. This year I’ll be back in work while Neil is in charge for the six weeks. I think it’ll be great for them to spend some precious one on one time together.

    #HumpDayLinky

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  16. It’s interesting to head about moms who are anxious to get back to work. I understand the benefits, but I was definitely not ready by the end of my maternity leave. I love your list – it’s just the right amount of ambitious. Having goals definitely would have helped me a lot with my maternity leave. I did not have enough structure to enjoy it well.

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    • I had a really long chat with my doctor about struggling to cope with being a Mum and she was really encouraging about finding a routine and getting organised. It’s definitely a good tip! Hope all is well for you now.

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  17. Aww, wee tear in my eye 😊. Baby groups in pubs are the way forward! Good luck with the photos – with just over a week to go before I’m back at work I’ve come to the conclusion I’m going to have to take a day off and pop Erin in nursery just to get the photos sorted!

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  18. Great lists! Its a really good idea to have a list of positive things to refer back to. The time really does fly with kids! I found the baby groups to be a fantastic support group and a brilliant way to meet other local mums. #HumpDayLinky

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  19. I lived in York for 4 years. I loved Yorkshire. It is such a beautiful place. Best of luck finding something that works for you and your family.
    #humpdaylinky

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  20. Great list! I love a list and this is a good way to keep yourself motivated when you’re feeling bored! I have to say watching Jeremy Kyle everyday sounds more like a punishment than a treat though lol
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
    Debbie

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