You’ve been waiting for this day, eagerly anticipating its arrival…no, I’m not talking about the birth of your baby but rather the first day of maternity leave! You know, that so-called down time every mum-to-be is supposed to have before their world completely changes which is then consumed with sleepless nights and nappies.
Maternity leave, or Parental Leave as it is now known in Australia, lasts anywhere from a few months up to a year. Its aim is to enable new parents time to prepare for the arrival of their baby and bond with them without the stress of worrying about work and making ends meet. Makes sense right?
But for a lot of us, maternity leave is a somewhat strange time particularly if you’ve been lucky enough to have a few weeks to yourself before baby arrives. The nursery is ready, you’ve ‘nested’ to the point that your partner thinks there may actually be something wrong (don’t worry, there’s not) and you may feel like you’re at a loose end, especially if you lived for your job. And this brings on another worry – will you be the same person after you’ve become a mum? What if your job no longer excites you? What will you do to find that ‘thing’ you’re passionate about?
These questions are all valid, normal and asked by almost every woman who becomes a mum…you are not alone. It’s not until you stop work that you realise how much physical and emotional energy goes into that part of your life and the thought of change can be quite overwhelming. But maternity leave is a great opportunity to take some time to rediscover who you are, to figure out what truly brings you joy and what you want to get out of life.
There are a few simple activities and strategies you can use to discover your passion while on maternity leave so that when it does end, you can choose which door to walk through. Here are four ways to find your ‘thing’.
Try New Things
If you’re not quite sure where to start, make a list of all the things you want to try and start ticking them off. Perhaps sky diving or horse riding are not the best things to try while on maternity leave but there are sure to be many activities you’d like to have a crack at. Sign up for a photography course, starting decoding your family tree, write a short story, learn a new language. Testing out new activities can help you discover what you really enjoy and might just help you learn what you’re truly passionate about.
Keep A Journal
This is a very simple activity to help you see what you’re all about. Record your daily activities, even the mundane ones, and how they make you feel in a journal and then analyse it. Look for the things that make you feel good – for example, does being outside put you in a good mood or does painting make you feel happy? Identifying those activities that excite you can give you clues to discovering your passion.
Inspiration can come from anywhere but a great way to discover things that excite you is by exploring other people’s passions. Talk to friends, read blogs, grab an autobiography of someone you admire or are simply interested in and get stuck in. Don’t forget, before baby arrives is about the only time you will actually have to read a book that is not related to bringing up a baby! You can even find inspiration through fictional characters. Reading these stories can help you find clarity or even switch on a light you didn’t know was there. If bub has already arrived, listen to some inspiring podcasts while out walking with the pram.
Three Great Things
Ask yourself what three things you are really good at…don’t be modest and don’t make excuses. We are all great at something but often hold back for fear of what people might say. But when it comes to discovering your passion, you can’t be scared. Passion isn’t just something you enjoy; it’s like teenage infatuation – you can’t think about anything else. Writing is a great example of this…when you’re not putting pen to page, you’re composing phrases in your mind, telling your story for others to hear. Any activity that takes over your thoughts could very well be your passion so embrace it!
Life is here to be enjoyed and filling your days with activities that bring you happiness can help you find your passion. Maternity leave, albeit a relatively short period in your life, is a great time to discover your inner fire and using the four steps above can help you achieve this. And you never know, perhaps you won’t even need to go back through that door to work!