A Maternity Leave Well Spent

It’s with a heavy heart that I type this post. I really can’t believe that my maternity leave is coming to an end! It’s been fabulous having 9 months off with Baby Lighty – and a month off before that, when Mrs Lighty was the size of a starter home and could barely do more than lie on the sofa watching Homes Under the Hammer – and now it’s all coming to a sudden end.

I say sudden, but that’s not strictly true. I always knew it would come to an end, and even what date I’d be going back to work. It just feels so, so sudden; those 10 months have flown by, and ok, I know I’ve had a little tiny person to raise, but where has that time gone?! When did my bump become a newborn, and when did that newborn reach six months old, and when did that six month old become a nearly 9 month old who I’m going to be entrusting to another person to look after while I go back to work? There’s logical answers, or at least dates, that I can attribute to all of these points, I know, but my maternity leave seems to have zoomed by.

As the end of my maternity leave draws ever closer, I have had the fears that every mum has. Will my baby be ok being looked after by someone else? Will he resent me for working? Will our bond be broken? Will he forget who I am?

I feel like I want to spend every waking moment with Baby Lighty so as not to miss anything (which in itself is daft, as I won’t be able to spend every moment with him when he starts school, or when he’s all grown up and the last thing he wants to do is spend time with his old mum, as Mr Lighty pointed out). A fabulous post by The Son and the Moon has helped me to put my fears to one side somewhat, and I have vowed to try to enjoy the time I had left (sounds like I’m passing on rather than returning to work!), but an overriding fear still remains: have I wasted my maternity leave?

This fear has largely been sparked by my biggest and daftest dose of mummy guilt to date: back when Baby Lighty was 5 months old, I booked a session of messy play, and in all honesty, he hated it. Hated the feel of the paint on his hands, wasn’t too keen on having to wear the overalls, didn’t like all the touchy feely bits and pieces. Looking back, I think he was probably just a little too young for it, but I still kicked myself so hard for not booking the by-that-time-fully-booked baby sensory course instead; I felt so guilty that I cried on the bus on the way home. Completely daft, but that’s what mummy guilt will do to you!

Messy play

Looking oh-so-cute in his messy play overalls, even if it wasn’t for him at the time.

So the fact that I haven’t really done any specific baby classes, coupled with the timing of Baby Lighty’s birth meaning that once I was new-mum-ready to get out and about it coincided with all the baby groups stopping for the school summer holidays, has left me feeling like I’ve squandered this precious time off.

When I mentioned to Mummy Hatchy, however, that I felt like I’d wasted my maternity leave, she said quite the opposite, that she thought we’d packed in lots. So, in an effort to make myself feel better about returning to work, I thought I’d make a list of what we have done, instead. It goes a little something like this:

  • We’ve seen our friends lots. We’ve made new friends, we’ve reconnected with old friends and we’ve had play dates with friends with older children too.
  • We’ve been to soft play.
  • We’ve been to various parks.
  • We’re regulars at the library’s rhyme time.
  • We visit one particular baby group almost every week, and have popped into others, too.
  • We’ve done lots of shopping!
  • We’ve been swimming.
  • We’ve been away three times, firstly to our friends’ wedding in Scotland, then to Centerparcs, and also to Great Aunty Tempy’s at New Year.
  • We’ve celebrated two first birthdays, two 30th birthdays and two weddings.
  • We did lots of lovely Christmassy things.
  • We’ve been a part of the Women’s Institute’s centenary celebrations.
  • We’ve had days indoors, snuggling on the sofa and playing with our toys.
  • We’ve visited and been visited by family regularly.
  • We’ve had lunch and coffee dates.
  • We’ve been for walks.
  • We’ve enjoyed lots and lots of family days out with Mr Lighty, making the most of our National Trust membership and also visiting lots of farms, zoos and wildlife centres and even the likes of The Essex Police Museum and an antiques centre!



A family day out at the zoo!


Enjoying soft play!

So why is it, that despite all of this, I still feel like I haven’t really relished my maternity leave? Why do I look at other mums pushing smaller babies in prams with a mixture of longing and jealousy, knowing that they are at the start of their maternity leave? It suddenly dawned on Mrs Lighty: it’s because it’s the little things I’m going to miss the most. It’s the snuggling on the sofa after breakfast, it’s the looking at the pictures of the teddies on Baby Lighty’s nursery wall together after getting him dressed for the day, it’s dancing together to the radio, it’s watching Baby Lighty’s personality develop, seeing him hit his milestones. And I know I’ll get some of this on my days off, but above all else, I’m just going to miss Baby Lighty so much.

So, new mummies, regardless of how much you cram into your maternity leave, regardless of how many classes you attend, please cherish the small moments, as they really are the true sign of a maternity leave well spent.

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37 thoughts on “A Maternity Leave Well Spent”

  1. You missed off meeting your online mummy friends (we deserve a special mention right ?) you’ve done loads though!! Definitely not a wasted leave! I feel like my return to work is creeping up on me – Baby Jones is 7 months tomorrow!! But even when you are back at work, you’ll make the most of those days at the weekend you do have off to spend with Baby Lighty – I bet you’ll be surprised by how much stuff you can cram into your weekends now! Good luck with your return to work, I’m sure it’ll be like you never left….

  2. This is such a beautiful post lovely and I can feel your emotion at coming to the end of your mat leave. I remember feeling just the same, but you will probably find that the thought of going back is much worse than the reality. It sounds like you have had a brilliant time on mat leave, but going back to work is not the end of the chapter. This is your life now and that isn’t changing. You’ll just find time to squeeze a few hours / days of work in on top of all the amazing things that you will continue to do as a family. Good luck, and enjoy the hot coffee (and buy yourself a teeny tiny handbag that does not contain a single baby wipe).

    Dawn x

    1. Ha! Is it bad that I’m contemplating taking my Pink Lining Mini Messenger bag to work, just because I love it so much?! Aw thank you, I know you’re right. The more I’ve read over this post the more I thought it sounded like my time was up!! Must get out of that mentality!! Thanks for reading, as always 🙂 xxx

  3. Lovely post. 🙂 I’m starting mat leave in 10 days and I will try and remember every day that I mustn’t take it for granted. It sounds like you did LOADS with your time (at this point, I’m imagining that getting both baby and me dressed in the morning is going to count as an achievement) and I hope going back to work isn’t too difficult!

    1. Thank you! And congratulations on your impending arrival! Very jealous not to be at the start of my maternity leave myself 😉 Hope all goes smoothly for you and try to enjoy your maternity leave as much as you can! Thank you for taking the time to read my post 🙂

    1. Ah I’m so jealous! Oh to be at the start of my mat leave again! 😉 Make sure you enjoy every minute, it really does zoom past. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post 🙂 #coolmumclub

  4. Lovely post! I’m planning to go back to work in a few months so this topic is on my mind right now. It sounds like you had a fab mat leave – what counts isn’t the number of classes you attended, but the fact that you got to spend time getting to know your baby. #coolmumclub

    1. So true. Definitely try to enjoy the rest of your mat leave if you can (tantrums and tears included! Often Mrs Lighty’s not the baby’s!!). Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post 🙂 #coolmumclub

  5. I totally felt the same about the end of my maternity leave. The first week or so of childcare was rough, but now she is almost 18 months and will run into her classroom to see her friends. Enjoy these last few weeks!!

  6. Ah this made me sad. You had an amazing time. You’d be overwhelmed and over stimulated throwing any more in. Think of the positives, always. You actually had a maternity leave! Having only 3 weeks before I had to edit my first wedding back I always feel a bit of jealousy and guilt that I wasn’t able to really embrace and enjoy proper time off with my daughter. Joys of working for yourself! I still try and have Mummy days and love getting out and doing things but even on the days we stay in it’s great, remember he will still love being with you no matter what you’re doing xx

    1. I know, you’re right, and I still think it’s majorly unfair if you work for yourself. I often think of you in that respect. I think it doesn’t encourage entrepreneurialism in women, which is a shame 🙁 xxx

  7. Push that mummy guilt aside (easier said than done, I know!!) you have done loads!!!! I think because it goes in a flash, plus the combination of baby brain/mummy memory, it can be easy to think you didn’t do enough! But I’m sure the baby would’ve been happy with being cuddled on the sofa all day! This is such a lovely post, and your love for little Lighty, and the way you have treasured your time together, really shines through! I’m sure the transition back to work will be fine, with the added bonus of uninterrupted coffee and toilet breaks! Let us know how it goes, and thank you so much for joining us at the very first #bigpinklink!

    1. Thank you for having me! I do love a linky, just wish I had time to join more!! Ah I know you’re right, we have done a lot and going back to work will be fine. Ooh did someone say hot tea?! ?

  8. Good luck for your return to work! I was supposed to go back after 4 months, but it was just impossible. I feel thankful every day that I’m still home many months later, watching my son try to balance peas on top of his head at dinner time 😉 I think it doesn’t matter how much joy you squeeze out of your maternity leave it will never feel like enough when the end is near, but once everyone settles into the new routine there’ll be new things to be grateful for.

  9. Good old fashioned mummy guilt! Even if you’d carefully planned out each week with specific activities and bonding sessions you’d still feel guilty about something. I hated going back to work this third time even though I like my job and I’ve had to rethink the way I work. Enter blogging! Baby Lighty will love childcare I’m sure and you’ll regain some of you again. It does make the time you do spend together more precious. Thank you so much for linking up with #showandtell, hope to see you back again this week!

  10. Good luck going back to work! Maternity leave goes so quickly, doesn’t it. When I first went back to work, I enjoyed having the ‘me time’ at lunch and on the journey, and looking forward to my days off with Tyler, it made our days even more special. And it’s nice to have the money too! xx

    1. Definitely looking forward to a bit of me time (read: blogging time!!)! Maternity leave really does go so quickly. When you start your leave, it feels like you’ve got a great stretch ahead of you, then it just flies by!! Thank you for taking the time to read my post 🙂 #MarMondays

  11. I had a stonking 14 months off on maternity leave and I was sad to to leave my little one 3 days a week, it was nice to get back to work. I felt like you, I didn’t do loads of classes but we had fun, saw friends and it was a brilliant time! It sounds like you have done loads and had such fun. I hope going back isn’t too tricky and you get into a new routine soon. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

    1. Ooh you had a lovely long time off! I regret not asking for the full year now, but needs must, and it could be worse, it could’ve been shorter. Thanks for having me on #bestandworst! 🙂

  12. Awww I know exactly how you feel, because I felt the same when my maternity leave was ending after 10 months with our little lady. Youve definitely packed lots in together and it sounds like you had a fab maternity leave 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Emily

  13. Mummy guilt is such a horrible thing!! With just one week left of maternity leave left myself I can totally relate to everything you’ve said (including the messy play at 5 months which we also hated!!). But you’ve done so much and I’m sure made so many memories and we will just have to make our days off even more special. Good luck on your return to work

    1. Ah thank you. This is actually an archive post and I’ve now been back a year (I’ve just published my ‘year as a working mummy in review’ post if you are curious to see how we got on). You are right of course, it was all ok. And I’m sure you’ll be ok too, good luck and thanks for stopping by xxx

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