With nearly two weeks of maternity leave under my belt, I feel compelled to share a little bit about how I’m feeling with the whole ‘not going to work’ thing. Work, of course, being my full time job managing the bridal boutique. I’m only on semi maternity leave from Utterly Wow as you can never fully switch off when you’re self-employed. My 2015 season may be done but of course I am securing next year’s clients, catching up on admin etc etc. I’m virtually work free for the next couple of months though- yippee!
As I alluded to in my last post, I’ve been looking forward to this period ever since I even started thinking about babies. Not because I don’t like my job at the boutique- I really love working at Blackburn Bridal and have been checking in regularly to see how they’re doing without me. (Absolutely fine, incidentally. And there was me thinking they’d fall apart without my insane management skillz. I’m not going to lie, I am disappointed.) No, I’d simply been looking forward to some ‘me’ time. I’ve worked hard for the last few years. Building a business around a full time job takes serious time and effort, and with a busy summer of weddings combined with making sure the running of the boutique was ‘handover-ready’, I was positively chomping at the bit to put my feet up and chill the hell out come the end of August.
Or at least I thought I was. Two weeks in and evidently I seem to be struggling with the whole ‘putting my feet up and chilling the hell out’ concept.
My problem is I like to be busy. I like to be active. I like structure and I like to be productive. A day off for me is seen as precious time to get things done, and is rarely spent lying around the house or taking a spontaneous jaunt to the seaside. I will often have some sort of ‘plan’ for the day (even on the most precious of days off, a Sunday) and come the evening I will sub-consciously look back and mentally tick off all the things I’ve done to make sure I’ve achieved enough to warrant not feeling like a bad person. It’s the same with activity. (Note I use the word ‘activity’ and not ‘exercise’.) I haven’t exercised regularly for a loooong time, but I do like to spend a large portion of my day on my feet and moving around. If I don’t I get restless legs and struggle to sleep, so spending a day on the sofa watching crappy films just isn’t going to cut it for me. I know, I’M WEIRD.
The first thing I did on Day 1 of ‘The Leave’ was write an epically long Shit I Want To Do Whilst On Maternity Leave list which is currently washi-taped to my office wall. I’d been compiling a list on my phone for the last couple of months and so transferring this list to an official colour-coded, category-divided spreadsheet seemed a great way to spend an hour. I know you want me to talk you through said list so here we go…
There are three main categories: Home Improvements, Work Life and For Fun.
Home Improvements consists of little jobs around the house that I’ve wanted to do for ages and just not had the time nor inclination for. There are the more appealing jobs such as putting together a gallery wall of family photos in my hallway, organising storage and finally making the wedding/honeymoon photo albums. And then there are the not-so appealing jobs like painting the bathroom ceiling, weeding the garden and cleaning the kitchen cupboards inside and out. (The latter gallantly bestowed upon me by my adoring husband.)
In my Work Life there is so much I want to do, from re-doing/updating my website and writing a book proposal, to the dreaded tax return, getting back to regular blogging, and research/prep for a new Utterly Wow endeavour (ooh, cryptic).
Finally there’s the For Fun category (are you still with me?). This comprises the more typical maternity leave activities such as packing my hospital bag, washing baby clothes, preparing freezer meals, baking, day time cinema trips etc. All the things that I should want to do but I know will inevitably make me feel like a lazy shitehawk.
As my Mum said bemusedly when she popped over earlier in the week and I showed her my list: “You’re not planning on doing this all now, are you?”
And here we come to the crux of the maternity leave quandary I find myself in, two weeks in. I want to get things done, now, before baby comes and reduces me to a sleep-deprived, sofa-dwelling crying mess with a boob permanently out. But equally I know I should take the time to relax, to nest, to read my hypno-birthing book and to spend a day baking a cake and then eating it all because… well, because I am 37 weeks pregnant and soon I’m going to be responsible for a tiny person, and these are the last few weeks of ‘just me’ time I’m ever going to have. Ever.
And I’ve literally only just realised the enormity of that sentence as I typed it. Wow.
So what have I been doing for the last fortnight other than procrastinating? Well, you can dress it up as ‘nesting’, I guess, but the real answer is shopping. Yes, I have spent the last two weeks BUYING THINGS. Not clothes shopping- although I did impulsively treat myself to a necklace and new autumn cardigan on a quick dash to Bluewater the other day. No, I’ve been thing shopping; things for my hospital bag, things for the baby’s room, things for the house, things that will actually enable me to tick certain jobs off my To Do list such as storage boxes, picture frames and weed killer. I can’t seem to let a day go by without spending money… and yet I also don’t seem to be getting a huge amount done. PROCRASTINATION OVERLOAD.
On the plus side, shopping of any description does make me insanely happy so I am having a rather pleasant time whilst I spend all my money and try to adjust to life on The Leave. And phase 1 of The Nursery Reveal is nearly ready to share, once a couple of rugs arrive next week. For now though, here’s a sneaky peek of a corner…
So talk to me, those of you who have babies. Did it take you a while to adjust to maternity leave or are you a natural at maxing and relaxing? How did you spend your time waiting for your tiny person to arrive, and if you could impart to me a word or two of wisdom, what would it be?