Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, Maternity Leave Is Mind-Numbingly Boring

shutterstock_88435636If you’re looking forward to maternity leave as a wonderful vacation/reward for all the hard work you put into being pregnant, you may not want to read this. Maybe it’s just my busybody nature, but I found the glorious break offered to me in maternity leave to be a shame spiral of boredom.

The funny thing is I work at home. If I had really wanted to, I could have taken an extended leave for as long as I pleased. But I have never been good with downtime, and maybe I never will be.

My midwife encouraged me to use maternity leave to rest, rest, rest and stare into the gentle eyes of my baby. That was really fun… for about an hour. When I had my second son at home, I tore a little during labor (TMI alert!). Because of this, my midwife suggested that I not walk downstairs for at least a week.

She might as well have been speaking Greek to me because that was not going to happen. The TV and refrigerator and my husband and my toddler are all downstairs the majority of the day. I have never lain in bed for an entire week, and I never will.

When I argued with her about this enforced bed rest after having a baby, which she thought would be a nice treat for me, she cut down her recommendation to 24 hours. It wasn’t one hour after she had left, just a few hours after giving birth, that I snuck downstairs to hang out and get a drink of water and be a normal person. I tried to lie to her about it at my next appointment, but I’m a really bad liar, and I immediately gave myself away. As a side note, my tear healed well anyway, thank you very much.

I told myself that I would take maternity leave for the traditional six weeks. But since I work at home, my computer was calling. I was so bored. I had nothing to do with myself, besides watching hours of Netflix. With my first son, my maternity leave was shortened to four weeks—with my second son, two weeks.

Maternity leave was hardly the vacation I expected, and I couldn’t wait to get back to work. If you’re hoping for an all-expenses-paid, all-inclusive maternity vacation, I hate to break it to you that reality is incredibly boring.

(Image: Alliance/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • Megan Zander

      The TMI warning goes before the horrifying-now-I-have-phantom-sympathy-pains information B, BEFORE ! Ow ow ow. Going to write an ode to my c-section scar now…

      • Bethany Ramos

        Yeahhhh not my favorite topic, but I could walk fine!

      • Megan Zander

        Sigh. So many questions, none of which are internet appropriate. Randomly, each of my friends who has had a baby all ended up with emergency c sections, so I have so many questions for the pushers. My BFF is due in May and I selfishly hope she doesn’t have a c section, just so I can get her to spill all the dirty details. You are so lucky you didn’t end up on bedrest!

      • Bethany Ramos

        But really, ask away! I have no shame. :)

    • Lilly

      I think if you have longer leave (especially paid leave), it is a bit more like vacation. I had 10 months paid (could have 12 but shared first 2 months with hubby). I was bored for the first little while but started doing a lot of exploring the city I lived in, reconnecting with people who had days or partial days free. I made it a mission to leave the house every day with the baby, even if it was just to go to a coffee shop and get a few groceries. It was kind of awesome, managed to try every independent coffee shop in the city and some of the suburbs, since I live in Toronto there are a lot.

      • Jessifer

        Same here – first few weeks were pretty boring. Spent most of my time changing diapers, nursing, rocking my son to sleep, watching Netflix. However, I’m now going on my 8th month of mat leave and it’s getting a lot better. I make it a point to have at least one place to go every day in order to have something to do, even if it’s just going to the store to get a carton a milk. If only this Winter would go away, it would be much better.

      • TashaB

        I also loved my mat leave for the same reasons (I live in TO too!). I joined a neighbourhood parents meetup group, reconnected with friends who do shift work, spent bucket tons of time at the park and the neighbourhood gelato place. Leaving the house at least once a day, even if it was to go to the corner store for milk, was key

      • Rebecca R

        I was looking forward to 6 weeks unpaid leave simply because I wouldn’t have to be at work over the glorious summer months, but a year? PAID? I’m going to go cry now.

      • Lilly

        yes, I had the Canadian standard amount (55% of your salary to a cap — around $450 a week roughly) and my employer topped that up to 93% of my salary — it was nice not to stress about money, which even with the 55% a lot of people here stress about since it is still a big cut.

    • Kristen

      I loved my maternity leave. I had a great time. I took it easy for about 4 weeks, and then I had fun taking little adventures with my daughter. Walks to the park, trips to visit family and friends, a little vacation to the beach. It was unpaid, but it was still 3 months away from the office. I miss it already!

    • SA

      I tore and they told me to get up and walking around asap! I even went to a farmer’s market like 3 days post partum….granted I was moving at the pace of a snail with a brand new baby, so it was embarassingly obvious that my vagina was in pain, but I so wanted to move around. I couldn’t have handled bed rest right after either.

      I had bf-ing issues so spent a good chunk of the first half of my 8 week leave at the breastfeeding center, doctor’s office, and my own OB (for mastitis & follow-up), so no boredom there. Once I decided to exclusively pump so I could stop the madness and enjoy my remaining time off actually bonding with my daughter, I LOVED my leave. It was fall, so the weather was perfect. I would walk in the park during the day, catch up on chores, bake, cuddle sweet burrito baby, and have a relaxing evening with the husband not worrying about having to be anywhere the next day. We’d go grab a *gasp* beer at a *gasp* pub and just leisurely sip on it while playing with baby, just not feeling in a rush. Aaaaah… I did however do some work from home during this time too though.

      Of course I had a lot of anxiety post-partum so I think being able to step away from society helped me a lot.

      • Bethany Ramos

        SEE – you were walking too! Your mat leave sounds like a dream. :)

    • Crusty Socks

      Beth, I would appreciate your “TMI alerts” BEFORE the TMI next time.

    • Kendra

      Speaking from only my perspective, I miss maternity leave and it was too fast and too short. The measly 6-8 weeks we get is totally pathetic. I had to take my baby, who was still very much a BABY to daycare and it was the most depressing experience of my life. Next time I’m for sure taking my full 12 weeks (mostly unpaid) because I feel super ripped off. The end. :)

    • Rebecca R

      Please don’t tell me that it’s boring, I’m really looking forward to my leave in July!

      • Jennifer Freeman

        New babies don’t do a whole lot once you meet their needs. They’re mostly sleepy and cuddly, which is awesome, but not necessarily very exciting if it’s all you’ve got, all day. However, baby cuddling with Netflix marathons is the bomb!

      • jorgiemama

        Only boring people get bored. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be boring. Babies are extremely portable. Do stuff and you wont get bored!

      • Francesca

        me too! i can not wait to start leave… about half way there and still not sure what I am going to take, but it will be at least 8 weeks.

    • TngldBlue

      I loved maternity leave. If not for the whole pregnancy & baby bits I’d love to have many more maternity leaves. But I am lazy as hell and also a night owl so having to be up at 2am, laying on the couch eating chips and binge watching my stories on Netflix is my utopia.

    • Jennifer Freeman

      I used my maternity leave to catch up on Netflix and to finish painting I started in the house like 2 years ago. I had about 10 different color swatches on my living room walls. I’m not proud of that! lol It was nice to have the time – and motivation due to having not much else to do – to get it done.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I got a year of mat leave. It was like a year-long awesome vacation. I just spent hours lazing around parks, hanging out at farmer’s markets, going to all sorts of free drop-in programs, spending time with my friends who don’t have regular 9-5 jobs, and having lots of naps.
      That said, by 10 months, I was starting to get the itch to go back to work.

      • Guest

        That sounds glorious

    • Abby Ferri

      I tore a bit too and it was painful AF, so I enjoyed the 2 weeks of “maternity leave” in which I wasn’t expected anywhere out of sweatpants. My “leave” was 3 weeks that I plead my case for in a neat/organized proposal for from my small employer who is not required to do anything of the sort. Went back to work PT then FT, then left to work from home. I loved every minute at home with the baby, breastfeeding, and the pre-6mos age when I could Netflix-marathon :)

    • Diane Davis

      No offense, but you are selfish.

      • Guest

        No offense, but Diane you are a bitch

      • Bethany Ramos

        <3

      • Jennifer Freeman

        I am seriously confused by your statement. What, exactly, about wanting to be up and about instead of being bedridden makes her selfish? It may be different from what you would do, or what anyone else would do, but it certainly doesn’t meet the definition of selfish.

    • Bender

      Thank you for this article! I actually can’t afford to take off more than 2 or 3 weeks for my upcoming maternity leave (my job has zero benefits). I was very stressed about this, so it is nice to hear about people who had shorter maternity leaves.

      • Bethany Ramos

        So welcome! I’m sorry you can’t take more time, but I was happy with a little less. :)

    • ChickenKira

      I’m back at work this week after 10 months leave (paid, woohoo!) and I couldn’t be happier. I told my husband that if we have another kid, he can take leave.

    • Suzie

      I am 2 weeks into maternity leave and already think it’s going by too fast! I wish I could take 6 months instead of 12 weeks.

      Of course, even prior to having my son, I loved nothing more than being at home, organizing random stuff in the house, sipping coffee, cruising the interwebs, watching TV, and taking naps….So it suits me :-) It’s even more glorious now that I have a snuggly little baby to hang with and love on…..

    • Guest

      I cannot wait for maternity leave and I’m not even pregnant. The great part for me is that once I get bored I become incredibly productive at home. I want to lay around and watch netflix, make runs to the store or the park, visit my friends during the day and just hang out. I. can’t. wait.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      I’m with you. I could not wait to go back to work! And, I had to wait an extra two weeks because I forgot I needed a ‘consent to work’ form from my doctor. I was ready to be back at 4 weeks PP.

      My maternity leave sort of started 3 weeks before I had MK for reasons I won’t get into here but I took up cross stitching and made stuff like this:

      • Bethany Ramos

        So cute!! This is way cooler than the weird 80s cross stitch that I used to do with my mom. :-)

      • Jallun-Keatres

        There’s way more from where that came from! :-)

      • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

        Oh my gosh that’s awesome! do you use patterns or make your own?

      • Jallun-Keatres

        I find them on Pinterest and I’m really good at plotting them down on my own (because I’m not paying $5 for something I can do from a pic). Then I choose my colors and off I go!

    • Sara610

      Oh my God, I HATED my maternity leave. My daughter was colicky and I had what I now suspect was some undiagnosed post-partum depression, and I could not wait to go back to work full-time when she was seven weeks old.
      Of course, I have an amazingly supportive workplace and a schedule with a bit of flexibility built into it, so that makes a huge difference.

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