Raising kids takes up a ton of your time and energy. Really, it’s like a full-time job (though the benefits, aka spending time with the most adorable munchkins ever, are better than in any corporate environment). However, some of your acquaintances might not see it that way, especially if they don’t have kids themselves. In fact, some of them might low-key shame you for not doing ‘enough’ during your maternity leave, no matter how much you may have achieved.
That’s exactly what happened to one mom, who spent the past 12 months on maternity leave. She shared with all the other parents on Mumsnet how she’s now getting back to work, and her coworker made her feel guilty for not being more ‘productive’ during that time. The colleague suggested that she could have started a business or renovated her home.
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Read on for the full Mumsnet post, as well as how all the other moms reacted to the story. Meanwhile, be sure to scroll down for Bored Panda’s chat about parenting and maternity leave with blogger Samantha Scroggin, from Walking Outside in Slippers.
A mom anonymously shared how she spent the past year taking care of her newborn
Image credits: Hollie Santos (not the actual photo)
However, she’s coming back to work and a coworker made her feel bad about not having been more ‘productive’ during her maternity leave
Image credits: Caroline Feelgood (not the actual photo)
The Mumsnet poster felt ashamed that she hadn’t ‘done more’ over the past year and wondered how all the other moms on Instagram manage to find the time for parenting and major projects. However, parenting is a very unique thing.
Every family’s situation is different. Keeping your kid alive, fed, and happy is what matters the most. Everything else is, all things considered, secondary and any additional achievements are a bonus. Absolutely nobody should have to feel guilty for doing their best. And nobody should believe that every Instagram parent’s life is as ‘perfect’ as it looks. Some moms find the time to work on various projects; others focus just on their kids. Both lifestyles are valid, but finding a balance between the needs of your kids and your own dreams can be rewarding as well. You’re a parent, but not just a parent.
Mom and parenting blogger Samantha, from the US, shared with Bored Panda that she took advantage of her maternity leave with her daughter “to tackle my life-long dream of becoming a writer.”
“I would encourage parents to nurture their own hobbies in addition to those of their kids. Even if that means subtracting a class for your kids from the weekly schedule and adding your own. You’re a better parent when you are fulfilled and rested,” Samantha said.
The mom shared some of her thoughts on dealing with exhaustion as a new parent. “I was fortunate to have fairly easy babies, so the parenting difficulties for my husband and me definitely grew with the kids as behavior challenges and other issues arose,” she said.
“If you have someone who can help you with the kids so you can take a break now and then, even just to sleep, definitely grab onto those opportunities! Take care of yourself as best as you can. Eat well, stay hydrated, watch your favorite shows when you can. Try to hang onto your hobbies. You are a parent, but you’re not only a parent. Nurture those pre-parent aspects of yourself.”
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Maternity leave can be different depending on where in the world you live. For instance, the United States doesn’t have national paid paternal leave, unlike the vast majority of countries around the globe. Very recently, Bored Panda spoke about this and why it’s vital for parents to spend plenty of time with their newborns with Labor and Delivery Nurse Holly D., from Georgia.
“Unfortunately, here in the United States, that is common, especially with lower-paying jobs. We are just recently seeing more of a trend for paternity leave. Most times it is unpaid leave of absence but it is ‘excused’ time. The amount of time off is minimal, however, the ‘work benefit’ for the paternal side is making a presence here. It still does not equate to other countries who practice this idea and most times it is not a benefit in ‘blue collar’ type jobs,” she said.
“I hate to use the word ‘benefit’ because it’s not much of a benefit to have a week or two off with a newborn, however, that’s the way employers like to portray it as part of their ‘benefit packages.’ I do believe a parent that is unable to have paternity leave with a newborn is at a disadvantage of bonding and transitioning into a new role as a parent and spouse. It causes a significant strain on both parents. If the parent is single and unable to take ‘paid paternity’ leave, it can lead to significant mental and emotional distress,” the nurse told Bored Panda.
“In the US, most internationally owned businesses have set a standard of paternal paid leave causing a new influence on the US-owned businesses to follow suit. The older generations here in the US have always practiced in an older model where the paternal figure works and the maternal figure stays home to care for family,” she explained how the American approach to paternal leave is slowly shifting.
“However, in the new family model, everyone is working and contributing financially and the need for paid paternity leave is more necessary than ever. Lower paying jobs still tend to follow the old model of no paid paternity leave, but my hope is the influence of internationally owned businesses helps drive the practice of standard paid paternity leave.”
According to nurse Holly, it’s essential for new parents to spend quality time with their babies. “It is necessary that the time is not rushed. Everyone is different in how much time is required to take off. I feel that it can be absolutely beneficial to relationships with the newborn and spouses/significant others to partake in the PAID time off. As well as their mental health in the transition into a major life event,” she said.
“I don’t know if there is a ‘right amount’ of time [to spend together], however, I have personally seen some of our neighboring paid paternity leave practices and I am envious.”
Here’s how some other moms responded on Mumsnet
Meanwhile, here’s what some social media users thought