I read over my loose plans for maternity leave the other day and realised I hadn’t intended to start working again until Miles was 3 months old. Yet by the time he was 6 weeks I was itching to get back into blogging again and published this update.
As a first-time mum I had no expectations of what life with a newborn would look like so I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much time I’ve had for myself. Because writing makes me happy I’ve spent a lot of that spare time blogging.
So, I thought it might be helpful for any bloggers, freelancers or self-employed mums about to take maternity leave to share how I am currently balancing working on my blog and caring for the baby.
But before I get stuck in I wanted to counter a few things because writing anything about parenting makes me super nervy!
Firstly, Miles is currently 16 weeks and therefore not terribly demanding. He still naps a lot, hasn’t started teething and is wildly fascinated by his own hands, more than anything. I am fully aware that any day now things could change and we’ll have to switch up our routine. I’m writing about our present situation from approx. 6 to 16 weeks.
Secondly, although I have no other experience with kids I think I have a fairly easy baby. (The health advisors always comment on how content he is anyway.) He has slept through the night from about 6 weeks (don’t hate me) and it’s no coincidence that I published my first post that same week. We’re very lucky that aside from some scary A&E visits when he contracted Bronchiolitis he is a healthy and happy baby and I hope I don’t inadvertently offend everyone by sharing my experience.
Finally, I am very fortunate not to have to work during my maternity leave as my partner is the main earner in our family and I have set this blog up to earn money passively, meaning most of my income is generated without me actively working on a daily basis. This means the pressure has been off and what work I have done has been because I want to do it, not because I need to.
I do have to check in regularly, however, to keep things ticking over and make sure all the work I’ve put in for the last 10 years is not wasted.
That being said, here’s how I’m balancing blogging and a baby at the minute.
Expecting a baby? Here are all the newborn essentials we actually used
My new daily blogging routine now I have a baby
On a good day Miles will sleep from roughly 7pm to 7am with a dream feed at 10pm that his Dad gives him. After his first feed he is pretty chill and happy to sit in my lap or lie on a playmat talking to himself while I crack on with some admin. After that he has his first nap and I feed myself and sterilize his bottles.
During the day he will then have a further 3 or 4 more naps, 2 short ones where I have just enough time to wash myself, do laundry, housework, eat etc and 2 longer ones where I’ll try to get some writing in.
(Side note: I had no idea newborns slept so much. For weeks I was like – is he sleeping too much? Should he be doing more things? Should I be doing more things?!)
We start the bath time routine at 5.30pm before bottle and bed by 7pm, sometimes nearer 6pm if we’ve been busy and he’s shattered. The evenings are when I tend to upload and edit posts or tackle tasks such as Pinterest while watching a bit of telly. Then I’m in bed by 10pm with my book while Justin gives the baby his last bottle and nappy change of the day.
Not every day is a smooth as this. While we have a routine of sorts it is very much flexible according to the baby’s mood and what else we’ve got on that day. I’m only working a few days a week at the moment so I pick and choose what days I’m blogging depending on our schedule and how Miles is sleeping. I do a couple of classes with Miles including baby massage and baby yoga, have regular catch ups with the NCT girls and my family who live close by and, to be honest, spend a lot of time shopping for clothes as the baby outgrows things by the minute!
Miles is almost 4 months old now and changing every day. I know that at some point over the next few months I’ll need to look into a few hours of childcare per week if I want to get those solid blocks of writing in. Or I might do what my friend Monica The Travel Hack, who is expecting her third baby, has decided to do, which is take a delayed maternity leave at 6 to 9 months instead. We’ll see.
Wondering what a travel blogger actually does? Here’s my daily routine before I had a baby.
Tips for bloggers, freelancers and self-employed mums on maternity leave
Some things I learned in the last few weeks:
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to name a date when you’ll start working again. I was lucky to be able to dip a toe back in when I felt ready and had the brain power for blogging again.
- Savour those early weeks. Everyone tells you this but I’m glad that I didn’t open my laptop in the first 6 weeks as you’ll never get that much snuggle time with your baby again. (Also 6 weeks of binge-watching BBC dramas and everything on Netflix was fun while it lasted!)
- Look into your maternity leave entitlements and what the rules are if you decide to start working again. I’m not really clued up on this as I am not claiming any statutory maternity as I knew I’d be working again quite soon after birth.
- Get good at doing things one-handed. It’s amazing what you can edit while feeding/holding the baby.
- Work faster and smarter. Prioritise tasks, type furiously, do as much as you can on your phone and I promise you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve between feeds.
- Be ruthless. I’m sorry but I delete 95% of emails unless they are obviously important or immediately clear about what they want from me.
- Take shortcuts. I have the groceries delivered so I can spend time working while they bring them to me. I use the Tesco mobile app and even got an order through in the car on the way back from Devon last week. (I wasn’t driving!) If I know Justin will be working late and I’m trying to work we have microwave meals so neither of us has to cook. (Not sure if I should be embarrassed about this? I think the M&S Balanced For You meals are bloody lovely though.)
- Get used to working in small chunks – a bit like your sleeping habits in the early weeks hehe – as even though you’ll be working faster you might not be completing tasks as quickly as you used to.
- Work wherever you can. I’m often on the floor with the laptop on the coffee table so the baby can still be close to me. I also work from cafes once the baby has nodded off in his pram on the way over.
- Expect everything to change any minute. I started this post with a happy baby babbling on his mat and finished it with him on my lap attempting to put sticky hands on the keyboard. I’ll eventually get it live when he is in bed of an evening.
- Don’t forget to eat. Monica from The Travel Hack recommends making packed lunches and I second this. I often batch cook a pasta bake on Sunday to eat throughout the week.
- Let some things slide. My shower screen is minging but we can’t do everything can we ladies?
- Done is better than perfect. Pre-baby me would preen over a post before hitting publish but these days I just like to get it out while I can and fix up any errors or updates when I get a chance later.
- Recalibrate your brain. I must admit that I was itching to get back to work sooner than I expected, I love what I do and wanted to have my creative outlet back again. I started to get a little frustrated on days when I couldn’t balance both the baby and blogging and my mum kindly pointed out that Miles is my main job now. Caring for Miles is my number one priority, the most important job I’ll ever do, and everything else will always come second to him. (Well, at least until he starts nursery!)
So that’s where we’re at at the moment. If things go quiet over here in the next few weeks you’ll know I’ve jinxed myself and it all blew up in my face :p
Here are some of the things I’ve been working on during mat leave: