So, second time round on the maternity leave wagon and here are my top tips for beginners to this crazy brilliant wonderful time when you're off and before baby arrives.
1. Take time to stop, sit and be calm
At home, in the park or your local favourite cafe just stop for a minute and breath. The first few weeks or months of motherhood can be a bit frantic. Build up a reserve of calm now to draw on later when you're sleep deprived and overwhelmed.
2. Book a hair cut
Hair generally gets thicker and more luscious in pregnancy, treat it to some extra TLC. A spot of colour can also be a godsend when you've not been able to wash it for a few days so do that now, most hair salons are happy to die your hair when pregnant but you might need a new patch test.
3. Book a massage
Bodies ache when they are growing an extra person. Legs are carrying extra weight. Your back is totally out of natural aliment just trying to keep you upright now you're out balanced by the bump. And someone with understanding arms and with the warm touch of a relaxing blend oil will make all these aches disappear. Other ways to relax in the hands of others, reflexology, osteopathy or Indian head massage.
4. Have a solo lunch in a restaurant
Spend as along as you can eating a meal with two free hands. Babies have a knack of waking as soon as any ordered meal arrives when your eating out for the next few months.
5. Walk in the sunshine
If there is sunshine be out in it. Morning sunshine is proven to be extra beneficial for mental health and the vitamin D is vital for you and baby. And walking is great exercise for pregnant ladies, it helps keep you strong for labour and also helps baby get into the optimum position for birth.
6. Find a new series to binge watch and start watching!
Start watching while sitting on your birth ball and then you can carry on when baby is on a feeding frenzy or when it's 4am and you've waken up unable to get back to sleep because of that pesky back ache.
7. Spend a long time slowly browsing the shops, carry a drink with you while doing it for extra points
Babies in the first few weeks tend to be fine in the shops. L's first outing was to John Lewis at a few weeks old. But negotiating these spaces with pushchairs, and all the stuff you take with you, especially the first few times when the panic of needing something and not having it is still super strong, is hard. And you can't push pushchairs and carry drinks very well, hats off to those who can. So do it now. I spent a long time in John Lewis again recently just adoring all the tiny baby clothes for both genders. So small!
8. Have a lie in on your schedule
Stay in bed. Wave OHs off to work, kids off to nursery, and stay in bed. Read, doze, browse instagram, shop or just sit and talk to bump.
9. Have a daytime bath and chat away to bump
Chatting to bump either comes naturally or you feel a bit self conscious. But chatting even nonsense to bump helps them learn the sound of your voice. Pick a nursery rhyme and sing it everyday to bump. L and Peach's song is You Are My Sunshine. Bump will remember this song when they are out and it will come in handy to calm their poor troubled selves when they arrive and are colicky. And being in the bath is just very relaxing and soothing for your poor over worked body.
10. Prioritise you
Do what you want. Listen to your body and do what it wants. Rest when it aches. Walk when it doesn't. Eat what you crave. Sleep when you feel like it. Just tune in and follow your bodies lead. Your body is doing the most amazing thing, it does it without asking or without having instructions from you consciously. It's just your amazing body doing amazing things so listen and respond when it's talking to you.
So I am now at the start of my official six weeks of maternity leave before due date. I do have three days a week of toddler care which makes nearly all the above impossible to do but on those two golden days a week when L is in nursery the above is my only timetable.