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Five things to add to your mat leave bucket list

“I’m going to be sooooo bored,” I moaned to my colleagues before heading off on maternity leave. “What am I going to do all day?” How little I knew!

Five months in, and I can’t really tell you what the f*ck I do all day. Yet time is flying by, and my all-precious mat leave is disappearing faster than my postpartum hair. 

And not to freak y’all out, but you’re never going to have time like this again. Especially if it’s your first baby (because by the time number two comes around you’ll be BUSY). 

So, here are five things to add to your mat leave bucket list to make the most of it. 

And fair warning: this bucket list is likely going to look a whole lot different to your bucket lists of yesteryear. Because hitting the clubs in Ibiza or hiking Africa or learning to surf in Brazil are unlikely to happen with a bébé in tow. While it’s 100% ok – and necessary! – to still dream, motherhood is very much about reframing your expectations

Live your best life during those mid-morning hours

When I was a kid, mid-morning was my mum’s favourite time to do anything. I never understood why, until having a baby of my own. In those hours between 9.30-11.30am, you and your baby are still semi-rested from the night before (in theory), things are open, the school/commuter traffic has died down and you’ve likely got your sh*t together enough to leave the house. Especially once your little one has reached that two-three month mark and their nap patterns start to emerge (meaning you can sort of predict when they’ll be awake and asleep), mid-morning is your time to shine, my friend. Go hang at a cafe, laze in the park, take a leisurely walk, or browse the library. Baby’s mood permitting…the mid-morning world is your oyster. 

Travel

Hear me out. While travelling with a baby sounds like a f*cking nightmare, it’s do-able. Yes, you need to take a lot more stuff (e.g. a portacot, pram, clothes, etc), yes, you need to plan things out more than you did pre-baby and yes, you might be hitting a family friendly resort rather than Yacht Week. But at this age – compared to when they’re older – your little one naps more, needs less to keep them entertained and often doesn’t yet require a room/seat/ticket of their own (hello, savings). And while you’re on mat leave, you’ve got the TIME! Check out publications like Holidays With Kids and Out and About With Kids for ideas on – you guessed it – where to travel with kids. And see here for practical tips from the experts at Tresillian on how to travel with a baby. 

Make your own mama tribe 

Motherhood can be tiring AF and a bit lonely to be honest. And while you might have a gorgeous group of friends already, raising a little one is a rollercoaster that’s best shared with others on the same ride. Why? They can empathise with the sh*tty sleepless nights, the dirty nappies, the developmental milestones, the first giggles and smiles, and everything in between. And where do you make mum friends? Well, where other mums hang out – some ideas include a mums group, baby sensory or music classes, local library activities, or mums and bubs yoga. A fab tip from the Beyond the Bump podcast gals: turn up early to your class, hangout or activity! You’re more likely to strike up conversation with another mama then, rather than during the event itself. Have a listen to this recent Beyond the Bump episode for more ideas on making mum friends. 

Take the damn nap

We’re not going to harp on about sleep deprivation. It’s going to happen. You’re going to feel f*cking brain dead tired. So, give yourself permission to put down the dirty laundry, stash away the broom, leave those emails you need to reply to and just take a nap while your little one is sleeping. Experts say even a 15-20 minute nap can give you a much-needed burst of energy. You gotta look after yourself too, mama. 

Soak up time with your little one

Mat leave is going to zoom by. And if you’re going back to work, these days, weeks, months – whatever you’ve got off – are a once-in-a-lifetime chance to spend time with your little one. It sounds horribly cliché, but it can be so easy to get caught up in the idea of being the perfect mum, with your to do list ticked off, the house tidy and your little one occupied up to their eyeballs with developmental activities. Let it go, mama. Be the ‘lazy mum’, soak up your mat leave and appreciate it for what it is: time to get to know the little person you created. 

To those who’ve done it before – what would you tell a new mama to put on her mat leave bucket list? Let us know in the comments.

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