Twelve weeks is the amount of time I, like many other working mothers, received during maternity leave to recover from childbirth and bond with my baby. It’s entirely too short, but we’ll save that rant for another day.
I’m a working mom who spends 40+ hours in an office and 4 hours a day with my children. I’m not used to entertaining a 2.5 year old for 10+ hours a day, let alone tending to a needy newborn. I don’t have enough tricks to keep her busy for the whole day, every day, but we rolled with the punches. Some days, we watched 4 hours of Mickey Mouse while I bonded with my newborn, and other days we had play dates at the splash pad, PlayStation, and Bever Park Zoo with baby in tow.
Leave went by quickly. I gave birth and recovered. I bonded, committed to breastfeeding, and maintained the house. My toddler and I got our summer bucket list of daytime activities checked off (things I’d never be able to do working full time). Hubby even picked up a hobby to help us financially afford for me to stay the full 12 weeks. All-in-all, my cup was filled, and I received some valuable insights about myself.
5 things maternity leave has taught me
1. I’m a routine-oriented person
I pretend to be so easy going and go with the flow, but I’m not. 3 months home with two kids under 3 and no concrete routine made me lose my marbles on the daily. Scheduling the day’s activities was a crapshoot. Most days, we were pretty unproductive, and I base my worth off of how productive I am. I’m type A and need to just embrace it.
2. I’m much more patient than I thought
Sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) I lose my cool, but I have to say I’m really impressed by my patience during leave. Parenting kids isn’t for the faint of heart. My kids sure did push my buttons, but I have to say that my favorite memories of leave are when I ignored the clock/schedule and let the kids be kids. When I was more patient, they enjoyed themselves more, which in turn made it more enjoyable for me.
3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I gave myself so much grace, more than I thought I would. I didn’t feel like I had to be super mom when I was home, unlike when I work full time. Things can wait. Kids will make messes. Things don’t ever go as planned. I may or may not look presentable in public. It’s ok. No one is judging – and I certainly didn’t sweat it! Perhaps, it’s just the “second kid syndrome”!
4. I need me time
I have to hand it to you, stay at home moms — I’m not sure how you do it day in and day out. I love my children fiercely, but being home for 12 weeks taught me that I’m a much better mom when I get some me time. I thrive (and my kids do, too) when mommy has time to chill, socialize, and escape the world of poopy diapers and Elmo for a few hours a day.
5. My kids are pretty cool
I only get a few hours with my kids a day. That’s not enough time to get to truly get know what makes them tick – their quirks, their passions, sense of humor, their accomplishments, and what sets them off. While on leave, I got to reconnect with my daughter and learned so much about her and myself as a mother. I also got to bond with my baby, learn what makes her giggle, and discover her favorite way to sleep.
Maternity leave was fulfilling and filled my cup in a way I didn’t think was possible. It challenged me in a way work didn’t. It also made my heart grow to double the size it was. It was an amazing ability to get a glimpse into stay-at-home-motherhood, but I’m glad to return to work life.
Thanks to maternity leave, I feel rejuvenated and see the world with a new perspective.
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