Oh, the naivety! Firstly I just want to say, I do love maternity leave. I love being at home with my baby and I'm completely dreading going back to work but let me tell you this, maternity leave is not a holiday. It's a harder job than I did before. It's 24/7, there's no tea breaks and the boss is relentless.
Reality: Everyone else is at work. And if you manage to find a willing participant to accompany you, the dark cloud of maternity pay is constantly hanging over you. Funding a year of constant weekends is something I didn't take into account.
Expectations: I'll be super productive when the baby's napping. Babies sleep all the time!
Reality: Either your baby doesn't nap (been there) or if he does, he'll only nap while pinning you down on the couch (been there too). Or if you're extremely lucky and have a top sleeper, you'll probably be using nap times to catch up on all the things you've been unable to do while baby's been awake ie. showering, getting dressed. Oh and by the way, babies are instinctively programmed to wake up the second you think about doing something productive.
Expectations: I'll be away from temptation at work so I'll eat really well and become extra healthy.
Reality: You're lucky if you get the time to eat and if you do, it's probably a cereal bar or something with little to no prep time. Oh, and when you're sleep deprived there's nothing more appealing than carbs, lucozade, coffee .. basically, all the calories.
Expectations: I'll exercise loads when I'm off and lose the baby weight in no time.
Reality: If you get a baby free hour, the last thing you want to do is exercise. You want to sleep, shower, sit in silence. The most exercise I get is a long walk with the pram every day which, admittedly, is better than sitting at my desk but definitely not the workout I had planned! On a positive note, all the baby lifting is definitely toning my arms!
Was your maternity leave what you expected it to be?