I've been a little (okay, a lot) out of sorts lately. My mat leave ended six weeks ago, and I'm—gasp—back at work. Now, don't get me wrong, I am super excited about my return to the working world, and I'm not worried about L'il E coping in my absence, but letting go has been tough. We had a year-long love affair, and saying goodbye to our daily rituals really brought me down. So, I wanted to share my top 10 tips on enjoying your mat leave. I did everything I wanted to do on my year "off," and said goodbye with no regrets.
Now, I'm the first one to admit that many of my days were spent totally exhausted, sometimes emotional, and utterly drained, but trust me, the following can all be accomplished. So, before you judge, just take a read, and if the following seems unfathomable when your year is up, then we can talk.
Try to live in the moment at least once a day. I know your day is one giant schedule—feeding times, diaper changes, and naps—but take at least 5 minutes every day and relish the precious time you're spending with your babe. I have several that stick out in my mind and I remember them fondly.
Do something for you. If there is something you dreamed about at your desk, or thought you would do if you had a year off, the time is now. I had a checklist of things I wanted to do while on mat leave, and I've ticked them all off my list. It feels so good, and now I'm returning to work with a whole new perspective.
Meet other mamas and make play dates. I can't stress this enough. Go to the library, your local rec centre, public health, or go to meetup.com, and hook up with other moms. I have had a year of awesome coffee talks, long walks, and great new friendships.
Explore your culinary skills. I know I'm going to get flack for this, but since you're home all day, you really should, at the very least, be able to get something ready for dinner. So, take this time to try new recipes, do some baking, or make homemade food for your little babe once he/she starts eating solids.
Schedule date nights and make your partner do the early shift at least one day on the weekends. Every day for you will feel like Groundhog Day, so you need to recharge your batteries.
Invest in a cleaning lady. Trust me. This will save your marriage and reduce loads of stress.
Travel. I know money is tight (EI is helpful, but . . . ), but if you can get away at least once, go for it.
Stay connected. It's easy to zone out to the blather of daytime TV, but, honestly, it's so much more productive to listen to the radio, go online, meet up with coworkers, and stay on top of what's going on in your industry.
Organize. All those annoying, messy drawers, closets, and shelves are calling your name. Purge and de-clutter, because all of those baby toys will slowly take over your life.
Have fun! There are so many things you can do with your babe in tow. Go out for lunch, go to museums, go to movies, check out all of your local coffee shops, go swimming . . . you get my drift.
I will miss you, mat leave. Wish me luck on the other side.