Taking time off work after the arrival of a baby is something that most parents look forward to. Entire days at home to share with your new child can seem promising in the midst of gruelling hours at the office.
In Canada, parental leave can last as long as a year, and within that time, there are likely to be ups and downs. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel disappointed during maternity or parental leave, and many people report feelings of boredom, loneliness and exhaustion. These feelings are perfectly natural, especially if you are used to the structure and pace of full-time work. Isolation can impact mental health and general well-being, so it’s good to try and avoid spending all of your time at home.
To keep yourself feeling too cut-off and cooped up, there is one very simple rule to follow: leave the house every day. Whether it’s a 10-minute stroll around the neighbourhood or a longer outing, it’s important to get out of the house and with a new baby, this is not always easy.
Have half your visits outside of your home – Though it may be tempting to insist that everyone who wants to meet the baby come to you, to demand this exclusively can be hard on your friends and family and ultimately, hard on you. Make a point of going out for lunch with family or go to a friend’s house for tea. Getting the baby packed up and on the move can be difficult, but the change of scene is ultimately worth it.
Join a network of new parents – It may seem like everyone you know is busy and working during the long days when you most crave company, and likely that’s true! It can be helpful to seek out other new parents and surround yourself with people experiencing similar feelings and situations – be they joyful or challenging. Check out your local community centre or a website like meetup.com to find people in your area.
Bring your baby to a class or movie – You may avoid your regular activities because it seems just impossible to bring a new infant along. That’s why many gyms and exercise centres offer certain swimming, aerobic and yoga classes where infants are specifically welcome. Similarly, lots of cinemas have afternoon show times that encourage new parents to bring baby along.
Visit work – Going into the office with your baby is a great way to stay connected with your coworkers. It can be a great reminder that you’re still a valued part of your team, which is something that can be easy to forget during parental leave. Go in during lunch hour and let your baby bring a smile to your colleagues’ faces!
Find a babysitter – Once you’re ready, it can be infinitely helpful to get a small amount of time to yourself – even if it’s just two hours. Time away from your baby can be very restorative, and offer you a huge boost of much-needed energy.
Of course, rules are made to be broken! Leaving the house once a day is an excellent goal, and can really help you from letting a whole week pass by in your pyjamas, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do it every single day. And, there is no need to rush into it. Those first days or weeks after the arrival of an infant are a delicate time, both emotionally and physically, and getting rest should be a priority.
If you are having difficulty adjusting to the demands of a new baby, remember that this is perfectly natural. Having a child is a huge transition, and it’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions. If you are feeling overwhelmed, seek help through your Employee and Family Assistance program. Call 1 866 833-7690 to speak to one of our counsellors or visit workhealthlife.com for more information.