3 ways to build a network during maternity leave
Having a baby and finding yourself alone with him/her for hours on end is no joke. It’s stressful on your mental health anyway to suddenly have a dependent, no matter how prepared you are. Add to that the stress that the baby relies on you for basic survival.
As a mother, I remember pretty clearly the first time that my mister went back to work after we had child number 1 (Bean). He had 4 weeks off in total (2 weeks paternity and 2 weeks leave) so we had a little time to get used to the new situation. But I still felt like I had no clue what was going on and was just flailing my arms around helplessly.
Thankfully after I survived the first day, the ensuing days got better. Because if you survived 1, you can survive another 4 until the weekend right? So here are my top tips for making maternity leave a more pleasant experience.
1. Join a birth or new parent course.
Signing up to one of these courses gives you an instant network of individuals. They are in the same situation as you, local to you, and probably also awake at 3am when the newborn is crying. Some of these individuals might go on to become really good friends, others you might lose contact with. But nevertheless it’s a worthwhile experience for what you need at the time.
In the UK, it is the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) that runs these courses. It is a non profit organisation that covers all things baby and parenting for the first 1000 days. I found their other workshops also helpful, particularly when there is so much conflicting advice out there on weaning etc.
I’m not sure if “geboorte cursussen” is a completely standard thing to do in the Netherlands, but I know of at least one provider in Amsterdam which is run by a friend of a friend.
2. Go to activities for mamas and babies
Most towns, cities, suburbs will have activities designed for babies, or at least for parents where they can take babies. Try a few and see what you like. After awhile you’ll probably notice that you see the same faces – others in the same situation as you are also looking for things to do to pass some time and escape the house!
My favourites have been mama/baby yoga (not to say dads aren’t welcome to attend); and baby music class. And for a way to spend an entire day, try going swimming!
3. Make the effort to connect
You are busy and tired everyday, but you’ve swapped phone numbers with someone. Make the effort to contact them once in a while to check in, a simple text message is all it takes. If you can’t be bothered, then there’s not much point!