After three months spent cocooned with your baby on the sofa, you're ready to move into a new phase with your baby.
Usually, these three months are best spent snuggling on the sofa with your baby. Keep visitors to a minimum (and the few who do come should bring morning tea); get plenty of rest (snatch naps when baby sleeps); eat well and finally figure out all the functions on the TV remote. This is usually the best start to parenthood.
Eventually the day will come when throwing out the rubbish no longer seems like a major undertaking, and taking your baby out into the world actually seems like a really appealing idea. Not even pushing your stroller down escalators seems daunting.
Has parental leave turned out to be less of a holiday than you expected? Chances are you planned to renovate your house, keep in touch with your work colleagues, shed all the weight from pregnancy in a week (as if!), plant the garden and pack up or empty boxes. Like many new parents, you might have enrolled your baby on a swimming course, music classes and playgroup. Many parents start their parental leave with high ambitions.
Baby makes most of the decisions
It’s easy to forget that your time during parental leave is completely dictated by your baby’s moods and needs. On certain days, your baby might just want to be carried around. It’s easy to get frustrated then; hey, that completely messes up your plans for the day. Uh, oh, you just fell into the most common trap - planning your day as if you’re on ordinary leave instead of parental leave.
Instead of getting annoyed about the things you haven't got time to do, perhaps it's time to lower your ambitions. Do you really want this period of your life to be dominated by carpet samples and renovation projects? Isn’t it best to take some time out? How often do you get a chance like this?
Everything in moderation
Instead, spend your time doing things that are fun and good for your body and soul. Go for walks, snuggle up and sleep with your baby. Use your “free” time to read, watch that film you’ve been dying to see and relax over a coffee. Take each day as it comes. Be spontaneous. Don’t plan your whole schedule in advance.
Remember, “Don’t work today when you can do it tomorrow”, “The dust in the corners won't run away”, and “If you wait long enough, somebody else will come by and switch on the washing machine.”
So instead talk about life, babies and all those other topics that get talked about at coffee groups. Over time, the conversation will gradually turn from lack of sleep and eating habits to work and relationships. That's when it’s probably time to move back to your former world.
The time flew by so quickly - that’s what all parents say after parental leave is over, so make the most of every minute.