This isn’t the way imagined my maternity leave would be. In all honesty, I feel shortchanged. This pandemic has robbed me of all the incredible plans I had for those precious first few months of being a mum again. The steady stream of family and friends visiting to hold the baby, the variety of playgroup sessions we would have attended and all the other new mums I would have regularly met for coffee and catch ups have all had to be written off thanks to Covid-19. The first few months of having a newborn can be challenging in ordinary circumstances, but during a pandemic, it’s been a much more testing experience.
When eventually discharged from hospital, I found myself in the midst of a global economic recession, a body I no longer recognised and severe sleep deprivation; enough to set anyone’s anxiety levels through the roof. Pre-pandemic, the thought of staying cosied up at home and watching everything Netflix and Amazon Prime had to offer sounded nothing shy of dreamy! But, having spent most of my pregnancy surrounded by the same four walls and limiting any face to face social contact due to lockdown rules, I’ve had to find ways to look after my mental state.
Here are three things helping me to navigate through this bizarre situation we find ourselves in.
- Side Hustle – @CardsByJaz
I’ve always been creative, which is why I studied engineering. Developing ideas, helping them come to life and having something tangible as an end result has always excited me.
In this digital age, we are so quick to ping a WhatsApp message or think liking a social media post is enough to celebrate an occasion. For me, nothing beats putting pen to paper to send a handwritten card. Receiving an unexpected card in the post can really help to show someone you care and help to lift their spirits.
This is where my side hustle comes in! I create personalised, hand-drawn greeting cards for every occasion – check out some of my commissions on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/cardsbyjaz/ or better still place an order!
Not only do I find it empowering to be my own boss; creating, developing and marketing my product, I also love the interaction and reactions of my (very happy) customers. Channeling my inner CEO and having things outside of the usual motherly duties to tend to whilst on maternity leave gives each day a greater sense of purpose.
- Walking the walk
Pregnancy and a traumatic labour has had an immense impact on my body. Even walking short distances recently has been difficult. But fresh air and physical activity has played an incredibly important role in my physical and mental recovery. Having some time out from my screens (TV, laptop and phone) and walking through parks in the local area has given me time, energy and space to process all that I have experienced and reflect on all I have to be grateful for.
It seems a lot of people have taken to walking during lockdown, it’s lovely to recognise people from the local neighbourhood on our pram excursions. Even those small daily interactions with passers by help to satisfy the social butterfly in me.
- It’s good to talk
With motherhood like most things, there are good days and bad. It’s easy to seem fine on the face of it. All it usually takes is a filter to help hide the bags under your eyes and having your phone camera to hand to capture that split second where you appear to have things under control. The reality is most days are far from Instagram worthy.
Talking openly and honestly with friends and family about how I’m feeling; the good, the bad and the ugly has helped me to overcome those postpartum blues.
Each evening, I reflect on the day with another new mum by exchanging 5 emojis that sum up our day, helping to capture the highs and lows of the day and vent about all the things that frustrate us as new mums and share all the incredible milestones our little bubba’s are reaching each day.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing how you are coping versus other new mums, constantly being hard on yourself and striving for perfection. But through this lockdown I’ve realised one thing, my kids don’t need a perfect mum, they just need a happy one! So that’s all I’m focussing my energy on.
To all the other mothers (and fathers) who have missed out on the true maternity leave experience, I see you. You’ve got this.