It can be one of the most special times you ever share with your children. But lots of new mums find it hard to cope with the isolation, hard work and emotional exhaustion of maternity leave.
SoLo founder, and co-founder of Maternity Leave Life, Rebecca Evans, shares her tips for surviving maternity leave.
1. Get out and about. Yes, there will be days when you're bored and you have NOTHING to do and nowhere to go, but you need to get out the house! Your baby needs the fresh air, and so do you. Even if you just walk around the block, seeing other people living their lives will get some colour in your cheeks and perk you up. If you're feeling more ambitious, visit our partner site, Maternity Leave Life, for ideas of days out, London cafes and baby-friendly entertainment.
2. Do some exercise. Easier said than done, I know. But everyone knows the importance of exercise - for mental as well as physical reasons. Try power-walking with the buggy, or taking your baby to the park with a blanket for some sit ups and press ups. Look into local gyms where they have a creche facilities, or try some mum-and-baby fitness classes like BuggyFit or Yoga. If all else fails, ask your partner or family to look after your baby for half hour at the weekend and take the time to walk, run or dance - baby free!
3. Meet other mums. This one is vital! EVERY mum is going through the same emotions as you, and the more you share, the less alone you will feel. Join the local mums groups on social media, and take part in the free (or cheap) mum-and-baby groups at your local church/community centre/library. When you get settled into a routine, join up to some classes for you and your baby, like Baby Massage, Swimming, or Sensory.
4. Be inspired. Swap ogling models on Instagram for reading inspirational words. Visit websites like our partner site, Maternity Leave Life, and read interviews with other mums, and find out what they managed to achieve on their career break. There are loads of groups out there to help inspire new mums, like Mothers Meetings or Talented Ladies Club - and they'll introduce you to other mums too.
5. Get planning. This time won't last forever, so as much as we'd all like to eat biscuits and relax for nine months, it'll go REALLY quickly. Take this time to evaluate your lifestyle - how will you cope with work when you go back to work? What childcare do you need to sort out? Can you change your career? Do you need to start a new social circle to suit your family? There's NO PRESSURE to do any of this, but you'll feel stressed if you haven't thought about it by the end of your nine months....