Before I started my maternity leave, I couldn’t imagine what I would spend my time doing at home all day. I knew that once ‘the baby’ had arrived I’d be spending the majority of my time feeding, sleeping, wishing I was sleeping, laundry and cuddling. And while in reality, that description is fairly accurate, I wanted to ensure that I used all my time wisely. I wanted to try and get out and about, not just for Annabelle, but for me too. I wanted to try and have an active maternity leave rather than just exist passively through it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve had a fair few days where I’ve binge-watching Gilmore Girls/Friends/Homes Under The Hammer/Tipping Point/The Chase in my comfies with unbrushed hair. I think having chill days is healthy. But it could have been very easy to do that every day and isolate myself and I didn’t want that to happen.
I’ve found that I’m able to plan our time during the week in a way that suits us. (Still can’t quite get used to the ‘we’ and ‘us’ being me and Annabelle, not just me and Adam!) And I have a few basic rules I usually try to stick to to help guide my week. In no particular order…
1. Get dressed every day. I found that if I stayed in my PJs I just felt a bit rubbish. I was comfy sure, but I just felt a bit ‘meh’ (for want of a better word). Even if it’s changing out of my pyjamas into equally comfy jogging bottoms and a slouchy top, I felt as though I’d achieved something at least! I don’t, however, insist on wearing make up or having my hair done every day. Doing my hair now features very low down on my list of priorities so I’ve had to lower my standards of expectation in that area!
2. Do something every day. For my own sanity, I need to have a ‘thing’ to do each day. Some days I meet up with friends in town (which inevitably leads to eating a cake-like something and buying Annabelle another cute but not necessarily needed outfit!) or have a friend pop in for an hour or so. Or some family will be visiting (which I love!) so we’ll see what we fancy as the day goes on. Other days I’ll go for a walk. I also have days where all I plan to do is clean the bathroom, or get on top of the laundry, or send a couple of emails I’ve been meaning to for a while. I try to steal the car from Adam once a week so I can venture further a field, to somewhere exotic like…Tesco. Sometimes it’s weather dependant, but if I’ve got a ‘thing’ to do, I feel as though I’ve got a bit of direction, or a target to aim for.
3. Be active. I love walking. Didn’t realise I did, but I do. Ironic really as I could barely stand some days, let alone walk during pregnancy as I suffered with SPD and sciatica. I try to plan at least one day a week where I’ll go for a long walk. Usually it’s into town, but not always. Today for example I waked into town and had a wander around, walked home again and clocked up over 10,000 steps and did just under 5 miles. Now I know that’s no marathon, but for me, it’s tonnes better than anything I was doing before! I used to teach PE once a week and the most exercise I’d get from that was leading a warm up and a quick demo at the start! I feel so lucky that I live in such a lovely town. I have so many options. I can walk to the town centre in 30 minutes which I love as it has lots of great shops and a silly number of yummy coffee shops. And if I don’t fancy that, I can walk to another small parade of shops or a library in under 15 mins. There’s a few different ’round the block’ routes I’ve worked out and there are some lovely rural spots nearby too. I try to walk somewhere a few days a week and I’m loving the outdoors!
4. Chill. I always plan a chill day. I need it! A day where I just stay in and spend the majority of the day playing with Annabelle and watching TV. I’ll make myself feel productive by emptying the dishwasher or doing a load of laundry, but my to-do list on a chill day is very minimal. I’ve also found that on these days, I find more things to do with Annabelle. She’s still so young (hitting 3 months next week!) that she doesn’t respond to too much yet, but with every week, I can see her developing. We play in the bouncer, then move to the baby gym and she’ll stare at the flashing lights in the elephant ears (can’t help but feel she’ll be disappointed when she’s old enough to see elephants in real life with plain, boring ears). We’ve got a little toy cow with flashing lights and a musical accompaniment which she absolutely loves! We read books. We sing songs and make up our own nursery rhymes, mainly because I can’t remember the words. (This little piggy went to market, this little piggy went to…Rome?) We play with penguin puppets. I guess I notice on these rest days just how much she’s growing and changing and love to explore what she can do and see how she reacts to things.
5. Interact with others. Without sounding like a broken record, I’m so lucky to live where I do. I have a children’s centre approximately a 30 second walk away who run clubs and classes for mums and babies. We started baby massage there last week and we love it! I can get her weighed there too and speak to health visitors if I need. There are some NCT run baby groups in town which I’ve been going to on a semi regular basis and I love talking to new mums in similar situations. People seem so easy to talk to when you’ve got a baby in common. The local library hosts ‘Rhyme Time’ every week which we’ve been to. Annabelle is probably too young to appreciate it just yet, but I can chat to other local mums and brush up on my nursery rhymes! And there are so many other options for different mum and baby groups that I’m spoiled for choice! I’m also lucky to be surrounded by so many lovely people; my new mum friends, friends who live nearby, friends and family who travel from afar, lovely people from church. We aren’t short of people to have fun with, I just need to sometimes put in the effort to make things happen!
I’m having so much fun sharing all these things with Annabelle and planning our time together so we have the perfect itinerary. And despite these weekly rules I try to adhere to, no two weeks are the same. In fact, no two days are the same. Annabelle makes every day new. She makes the same walk, or the same baby group, or the same activity different every time. I love how much variety she brings to my life and how individual she is. I’m amazed at how much personality and character she has already, and she brings joy to everything we do.
Here’s a few pictures from our last week together.
Sunday – Giggles with Grandma
Monday – Rhyme time at the library with Mr Crabbs the rattle. Then looking pretty relaxed after baby massage.
Tuesday – Chill day. “I’m a soft, and happy cow. Hug me, love me all day long.” Repeated multiple times. And then Daddy joins in with playtime after work!
Wednesday – Enjoying a sing song at Bumps and Babies
Thursday – Smiles because Nana and Grandpa came to visit (Photos are on another camera!)
Friday – Loving the lighting department in John Lewis. She was in heaven! Didn’t know where to look first!
Saturday – Getting to know different toys!
Sunday – Snuggles after bath time!