Thoughts on Maternity Leave

When my Maternity Leave start date finally arrived back in December 2014 I was ready; Painful SPD making walking hard, a rapidly growing bump and even more rapidly diminishing energy levels meant I just wanted to rest. On December 19th I was relived to wake-up knowing that I had no imminent commitments to worry about. But I was in no way blind to the hard work that was due to come a few weeks in to the New Year. What I didn’t know though was what to expect; What would that work be? How hard and tiring would I find it?


I’ll be honest from the start, it’s been harder than I thought it would be. And in ways I didn’t think it would be hard. The sleep deprivation in the early weeks was debilitating (In my mind I have buried away those memories but when I dig them out I struggle to believe it was just a couple of weeks) and made all the worse by the inevitable physical discomforts that are left post birth. My immune system was in tatters and I got ill but couldn’t rest; It gave me a very real reminder that my needs no longer came first.

As time passed, lack of sleep became something I adapted to, even if I didn’t thrive on it. But as I am still reminded eight months on, when one challenge is conquered another comes to quickly take it’s place. Or more likely they all just come at once like buses…followed by more buses…until it’s like the M25 during rush hour but entirely with buses. I had to quickly accept that my natural preferences of order and control were going to be tested. My previous comment about my needs no longer coming first applied to pretty much everything: eating, sleeping, showering, exercising, reading, chatting to friends, cleaning, blogging, being able to just have five minutes of peace to clear my head.


That said, if it were all bad I’d have been a crying mess rocking slowly in the corner from about April this year. Of course I’ve had a few rocking / crying moments (see above if you need a reminder as to why) but it’s also a privilege to be able to spend every day with my little girl, watching her subtle but continually develop and growth. It makes me so happy when she discovers some new skill and turns to me with a big grin on her face. It’s a pleasure to be able to sit and play with her after she’s woken from her nap without having to clock watch (except for those days when we are keeping to her hectic social calendar!). No matter how good or bad a given day is, it’s nice knowing that the occasional grin or cuddle will – if even only for a moment – make the day all good again.

Being a parent, and especially a full-time one, is essentially like being a servant; Sure most of us chose to go in to the profession willingly, but it doesn’t make it easy to accept that you are the whims, beck-and-call and mercy of someone else ALL THE TIME. I have certainly struggled with this but I also know that when it comes down to it, I don’t want to be apart from H yet. I want to know she is getting everything she needs, the care and attention she deserves and the right lessons; Right now I think, aside from Sam, the best person to do that for her is me. So for this short part of my life (because in reality a year isn’t actually that long) I know I want to try and make the adaptations and sacrifices necessary to do the best for her.

Angela Watling

So if I were to know what I know now at the start of 2015, would I still take a year off? Yes, without a doubt. I’d probably just feel less guilty about laying-in and lazing about watching TV in my last few weeks of pregnancy though!

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
My Petit Canard

30 comments On Thoughts on Maternity Leave

  • Maternity leave was much much harder than I expected! I was absolutely blindsided by it. If only I’d done my research and read posts like yours. But then again I was so full of hubris that I probably would have thought that I could do better. I definitely couldn’t! Glad you had some time to rest in your last few weeks of pregnancy. #kcacols
    The Mum Reviews recently posted…Does your bedtime routine actually work?My Profile

    • I’m not sure anything can truly prepare you for Mat Leave with your first child. I was adamant I could cope with the sleep deprivation. I was so sure I would be able to take the pain of labour. I just knew I’d be able to breastfeed successfully from day 1. Haha, yeh right. But it’s a learning curve I guess and a reminder of life to come as a Mummy. Hopefully despite having a massive shock you did enjoy some of your Mat Leave! Thanks for reading and commenting x

  • May leave is proving to be much harder than I ever imagined! Nothing will ever prepare you for it I don’t think. Just know you’re doing amazing! Mat leave or not everyone has good and bad days x #MarvMondays

    • Yes you’re quite right! I think people telling you to “enjoy your time off” makes you feel bad when you find it hard. Thanks so much for commenting and good luck for the rest of your mat leave x

  • I love the photo of you and your daughter. Beautiful! Both of you! I don’t remember my maternity leave except the weeks where I was overdue. It is a privilege to raise our children not always easy, but certainly a privilege. #MarvMondays
    Kirsten Toyne recently posted…Valuing Our Role As ParentsMy Profile

    • Yes you’re quite right! Despite documenting the year on my blog, I remember less than I would like. My Timehop app often shows me pictures from days I’d forgotten but make me remember some really happy times. Thanks for your lovely comment x

  • I wish I had taken a year off with mine. I only had 6 months with my first and 4 months with my second, then we bought Coombe Mill and I didn’t have any Maternity leave with the next 4 children, but on the plus side I do now work from home. I totally get the servant bit, but on balance we are happy servants! #MarvMondays
    Fiona Cambouropoulos recently posted…Piglets born at Coombe Mill in OctoberMy Profile

    • It must have been very tough going back after only 6 and 4 months. Whilst it must have been equally or more tough having no break with your other children, at least working for yourself and working from home means less time apart / ease if integrating them into your working day. Agree we are happy servants, for the most part 😉 (Just stubbed my toe really hard and wanted to sit a quietly cry but had to get H her snack, so wasn’t so happy for that moment!) Thanks for your lovely comment x

  • Maternity leave is a mixed bag. I’ve had days where I have kind of missed getting dressed for the office and mixing with other adults and having a day of not getting covered in baby sick, but then I know as soon as I do go back and start missing first’s that I’ll want to be at home! Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays
    Fran Back With A Bump recently posted…It’s Another Marvellous MondayMy Profile

    • Yes going back to work is tough. I enjoy it now I’m used to it. But those times when Little H is sick and I am exhausted, that’s when I miss being able to stay at home. Whilst it’s not easy at home, at least I don’t have to put on a facade of being alert and on the ball! Hope you adjust when the time comes. Thanks for commenting xx

  • Fantastic post, I think it is easy to feel like you need to be up and about in your pre-baby leave. But this time before P came I definitely lazed about as much as possible, and just like you I’m trying to make the most of it as I know it won’t come around again for a v long time.

    • Well done you! Glad that you gave yourself a break. My daughter is closing in on 2 and I really don’t know how that can have happened… Thanks for reading and commenting x

  • I’m on my second mat leave and it is HARD work. As i comment my second born is on the mat happy and my first is watching telly! I will be taking another year off too, as you are right they need you and that time is so precious! x #marvmondays

    • Sounds like a well needed moment of rest for you! My daughter has decided she doesn’t want to nap today. It’s the second time in 3 days. She’s only 20 months so I’m really hoping it’s a phase. She won’t sit still long enough to watch TV so I don’t know how to entertain her for that long 😬 Hope you enjoy the rest of your Mat Leave even though at times it will be an uphill struggle! Thanks for commenting x

  • great post Angela and I echo your thoughts too. if I did it again, id def spend more time just relaxing and not feeling guilty for not doing a lot! #KCACOLS
    Emma recently posted…Choosing a Primary School: Ofsted – What Does it Really Mean?My Profile

  • What a great post. I had a year off and it was bliss but going back to work saved my sanity too to be honest.
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    • Yes, I found it easier to throw myself into Mat Leave more readily because I knew I’d be returning to my other job part-time after a year! Thanks for your comment and will certainly see you next Sunday x

  • I never really had maternity leave as I left University to have my child and then circumstances lead to me living in a hostel for a long time so I didn’t actually go back to work until she was three. We have had a lot of time together and I wouldn’t change it. Now I work from home so if I have another child I’m hoping we will have a good balance of being able to do what I want but also get that time with my child! Its tough though and I think we should always try and do what feels right for us as mums whether that’s going back to work early or staying at home! #MarvMondays
    Kat recently posted…Does My Zodiac Sign Fit? – Blogtober16My Profile

    • I remember reading in your blog post about having to go to the hostel. It must have been so tough but it’s nice that the silver lining was getting all that time with your daughter. I’m sure being with you all the same made her so much stronger through all of the change she was going through. Being able to work at home if you have another child would be ideal. Especially if you are able to sneak in a few free mornings using nursery / family / other so you get a little bit of time for yourself. There is definitely so much scrutiny over mums these days. Whatever we do, someone will always say we are doing the wrong thing. So doing what is right for you and your family is key. Thanks for stopping by and commenting x

  • I remember thinking it would be all fun and games, but in reality it’s hard work. I love every minute but I’m exhausted by bedtime! #KCACOLS
    Louise recently posted…An Autumnal walk around RHS WisleyMy Profile

    • Definitely! I had to look after my daughter for 11 straight days when was ill. It made me miss my work days. Admittedly toddlers require a different energy to babies (less continual supervision, carrying around and spoon feeding but a lot more running and ‘fun’ games) but I have never been so tired since the newborn and night feed days. It’s wonderful you still enjoy it so much though! Thanks for stopping by and commenting x

  • I took 9 months the first time, 1 year the second and that was it for the last one. Each time I went back to less and less hours too. #kcacols

    • I can see why. Juggling multiple children and the cost of childcare can easily become too much of a cost for working when you’re also away from your kids. Thanks for reading x

  • I didn’t get a proper maternity leave with my daughter because I went straight back to uni after having the summer holiday off with her, so I’m looking forward to a proper maternity leave when we get around to having a second baby! #KCACOLS

  • Arthur was due on 23rd Dec 2014 (he didn’t arrive till 15 days later though!) and my maternity was due to start at the beginning of December. I ended up being signed off at the end of October due to really bad SPD and the physical toll of my job (reception class teacher) meaning that I was having near constant braxton hicks because I wasn’t getting any rest at all. I also felt guilty about sitting around at the start of my maternity leave before baby arrived….wish I’d rested more now! Arthur is now 21 months and I haven’t had one full night sleep since he arrived!! The first few weeks were a blur and a struggle. Colic and reflux made things worse and sleep deprivation and anaemia made it ten times harder. Your post really reminded me how far we have come! I may not get to sleep much still, but compared to the start of it all we are so much better xx #kcacols

    • Your experience sounds so familiar! I was fortunate that my job allowed me to work from home. So even though I had to commute to London for some office days, I could generally alternate. I can see why you had to be signed off – standing all day would have been the worst thing for your body.

      As terrible as it sounds, I’m actually glad you’ve said you’re still not getting a clear night at 21 months. Little H is only a few weeks younger than your son (this post is from during my Mat Leave last year) and she wakes up in the night with real regularity. I used to be able to get her to sleep quickly after a drink of water. The last few weeks though she’ll be chatting and playing loudly for over an hour and will then start crying. When I go in, she won’t want me to leave and she wants to open the curtains and get up. It’s tough. But you’re right, it’s a LOT better than it was. Just difficult when you have friends who say they haven’t hear a peep out of their child at night since they were 2 hours old 😉 Good luck with the road to uninterrupted sleep. Know you are not alone! Also thanks for commenting xx

  • I took 9 months off and was like, yes no work for 9 months. £ months in I had totally changed my mind #kcacols

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About Me

About Me

Hello, I'm Angela. I'm Mum to two small people (4 & 1). I'm a Gardener, am houseplant obsessed and addicted to tea. By day I work in tech and also look after my littles. I'm trying to get our family to live a more sustainable life. I also have far too many opinions...hence the blog. You can read more about me here. You can also follow me on Twitter so you never miss a post. Hope you enjoy reading!

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