While pregnant with my first baby, I’d often find myself wistfully (and naively) imagining what maternity leave was going to be like. At the very least, it was going to be a well-earned rest from the daily grind. Ha, I can barely contain my own laughter! But even when you ditch the rose-coloured glasses, maternity leave is an exciting frontier, and it’s also a very rare opportunity to learn some life-changing lessons.
1. You’ll work harder than ever before
No matter how tough your day (or night) job is, believe me when I tell you that parenting will reinvent your definition of work. During your maternity leave, you’ll learn that the clock never stops on parenting. And thus, you’ll discover the importance of being able to carve out time for yourself.
As you get into the swing of the parenting game, you’ll become adept at time management. And you may finally have the breathing space you need to reassess things in your life, like your career and life goals. Yes, that’s deep, but becoming a parent changes the way you think about your future.
2. You’ll uncover a gap in the space-time continuum
Every day as a parent is different from the next. Just when you think you have it all figured out, everything turns pear-shaped. The concept of time no longer exists for you. Some days, you will look at the clock and it will be 4pm and you haven’t managed to get dressed, eat more than half a piece of cold toast and the house looks like a scene from Hoarders.
Yet other days, things will run like clockwork, and it will feel like there are extra hours in the day. And these days will start to become the norm as you get to know your baby, and work out a routine that’s best for your family. Trust me, things get so much better – and you’ll have a new-found zest for life. As you take a break from your job, you may find the distance gives you just the push you need to explore new things.
3. You’ll learn new skills without leaving the house
Maternity leave will teach you ninja skills for mums. These include (but are not limited to):
- Having eyes in the back of your head.
- Squeezing an impossible number of things into one day.
- Being able to silence any member of the family (human or otherwise) with just one look when the baby is asleep.
- Carrying a baby, groceries, the car keys, dummy, blanket and a coffee and still being able to open the car door.
You’ll also have the chance to learn life-changing skills to help boost your career, without leaving home (really!). Award-winning online education provider Ivy College can open a whole new world of learning while you’re on mat leave and you can do it at your own pace (because babies don’t sleep in convenient blocks of time). There’s plenty of learning support you can access every day of the week, with Australian-based Trainers and Study Coaches. You have access to an Expert Career Services team to help you get job ready, and you may even be able to study now and pay later. You can use your maternity leave to study and craft a whole new career, in Beauty, Business and Management, Events, Health and Wellbeing, Design and Technology. You could come out the other end a whole new you.
4. You’ll discover just how little sleep is needed to function as a human being
The term ‘function’ is used lightly here. You will endure months of broken sleep. Sleep will tease you, elude you, mock you. And you will relearn just how much sleep you actually need to be able to place one foot in front of the other. You’ll draw on superhuman mum-strength to continue feeding the baby, bathing the baby and generally ensuring he’s thriving. You, on the other hand, will learn to survive on two hour increments of light dozing, interspersed with feeds and nappy changes.
There is a bonus to this new-found skill. You’ll find that you’re able to squeeze so much more into your day than ever before. You can tackle so much more than you think, as long as you’re flexible. For instance, if you do decide to reinvent your career while on mat leave, go for an online provider like Ivy College, because you’ll have access to learning support outside of business hours and on weekends. You’re not hemmed in by the usual constraints of study outside of the home.
5. Life, as you knew it, will never be the same. And that’s ok.
You may think maternity leave will just be a little blip on your life journey, but it can actually be the gateway to a whole new path. You’ll learn what it’s like to have a tiny, helpless little being at the centre of your universe. You’ll discover strength you didn’t know you had. You’ll make a tribe of friends (or reinforce relationships with those you already have). But remember, you’re still you. And your maternity leave could be just the pregnant pause you need to start a whole new chapter of your life.
About the Author: Anita Butterworth
Anita lives in country Victoria and devotes her time to two beautiful, boisterous boys, writing for Babyology, working as a television journalist and possibly the best husband in the world (usually in that order). She can decipher the handwriting of a preschooler and stop brotherly brawls single-handedly, all while masterfully sipping freshly brewed Earl Grey.