The first month with a newborn is pretty exhausting, like any new mum, I was sleep deprived. Those first weeks back home from hospital awake every two hours, you wonder how are you gonna go through it for the next year. I’ve always loved sleeping, therefore not sleeping for 5 weeks was turning me into a different person. Newborns cry and they want to be fed every three hours or so. In my case, the time off I had while she slept, I used it to do the basics; cook, shower and clean the house. No time to sleep while baby slept as that was precious time to do everything else. Whenever I ventured out into the big city with my newborn, life wasn’t fun. London can be quite an isolating city and living in a residential area was making it worse. It was November and it felt too lonely, too dark and too cold. Did I want to carry on like this for the next 52 weeks? Absolutely not. I decided to take a leap of faith and change my life by leaving everything behind.
I had a new baby, I had a new life with her and it was time to say goodbye to the life I had before she arrived. The old life wasn’t compatible with the new one that was just starting. If things don’t feel right, change. It may feel scary at the beginning but changing would lead to something different and probably better. I didn’t want to get stuck with what I thought was comfortable and easy.
When my baby was one month and a half, we took a plane for a sunnier climate where life is affordable and more relaxed. We left behind our London life for the duration of my maternity leave. To me, that meant leaving everything. My friends, my social life, my routine, my security, and the house where I had lived for the last 5 years. Not only the house, I also left everything in it, including the 5 years of memories. I wanted a new start so the past had to stay in the past.
OUT WITH OLD IN WITH THE NEW
A new baby is the best time to erase and replace. I was very stuck living in a house in London which I wouldn’t leave out of fear of the unknown and the stress of looking for a new place in a city where rents are extremely expensive and offer no value for money . But it was just a house. A house where I didn’t want to build my future so I just left, as simple as that. Soon, I was so busy looking after my newborn and making a new life, that I had no time to miss anything. I had to focus on the right now and that is how I learned to be present.
I travelled alone with my baby girl and whereas this can be challenging at times, once you go through it for the first time, you know you can do it anytime. I loved visiting new cities with her and having my favourite companion with me. Life outside your comfort zone will make you aware of all the new challenges you are facing and help you focus. You will get to meet new people and make great memories for the book of life. We visited Barcelona, Vienna, Madrid, Santiago de Compostela, O Porto and many places who forever have a fun memory attached to it. This helped to let go of any fear I may have had as a new mum. It also made me feel I can kick ass no matter the situation.
SWITCH OFF TO SWITCH ON
Time flies. It really does. During the first year of your baby life, a human being goes from a hopeless newborn to a little person who can talk, eat by themselves and walk . If you don’t pay attention, you miss it, and consequently, you regret it. I deleted Facebook, messenger and many apps from my phone and gave social media zero priority. You need to switch off to switch on and if you focus too much on what others are doing , you are not focusing on what you are doing . Walking away from social media and your smartphone will be liberating.
EMBRACE YOUR FREEDOM
In the UK we enjoy 52 weeks of maternity leave, I know fellow mums in the USA are not that lucky.However, after a few months we don’t get paid but we do get the time off should we wish to take it. Time is money and the freedom of time is too valuable. Also, I didn’t want to put my baby on a nursery so I embraced the unpaid free time and it paid off big time. The time I get to spend with my baby, will never come back so that is priceless. Every day is a new day to do whatever you feel like, everyday is not the same and all this thanks to the freedom of maternity.
ENJOY THE OUTDOORS
If you spend a full day with your baby indoors, you will notice that, come the afternoon, the baby starts feeling anxious and uncomfortable. When I left London, I moved into a small coastal town in Spain where I could walk everywhere. This was heaven sent as she enjoys the outdoors everyday. There is no toy in the world that will make children enjoy more than the beach or sitting in a park exploring everything.
BE PRESENT, ENJOY THE RIGHT NOW
During my maternity leave, I have learned to live in the present time, not the past nor the future. There is not such thing as perfect, perfect is what you make of what you have. It is a state of mind that requires strength to be able to feel content with yourself and the environment. Whatever is it I have, I’m enjoying it. If the sun shines, Im happy. If it rains, Im happy too.
WORK IS OVERRATED , LIFE IS ABOUT PEOPLE AND TIMES WELL SPENT
Before my maternity leave, life was all about work and my future. Right now, I have no idea how it will be for me once I go back to work and put my baby on a nursery . One thing I’m sure is that if I’m not enjoying it, if it all makes me feel rundown and like every day is just another day I have to go through instead of a day I’m gonna enjoy going through. I’m changing again. Sometimes we get too attached to things, places and people that are not giving us that much in terms of quality of life.
DON’T BE BUSY, JUST BE
Everyone around me was busy. Too busy to meet, to talk, to do anything that didn’t involve work, to just be. Everyone, myself included, seemed to be spending a lot of their valuable time chasing after opportunities. Opportunities you can spend the rest of your chasing after as there is always new ones arising. I had to put an end to that. I wanted to savour life little by little, moment by moment. Opportunities don’t mean anything, day to day life, does.
Motherhood and maternity leave has been liberating. I’m enjoying a carefree time that for the first time, it feels as time well spent.I’ve realised how the time off helped me build a wonderful relationship with my daughter and that is why I completely encourage women to keep fighting for their right to time off when a new baby arrives.
This article first appeared at Thrive Global