Surviving an Unpaid Maternity Leave

Stress is everywhere in today’s hectic society. From finding and keeping a job to paying bills on time to providing for a family, there are a million reasons to be stressed about money. And now, studies are showing increasing evidence that mental and physical health are linked — meaning our worries are wearing down our bodies.

The good news is that once people pay down debt and become more financially stable, they report feeling generally happier and healthier. Symptoms like muscle tension and digestive problems seem to lessen when people don’t have to worry about money. So start paying down debt and saving as much as you can — your mind and body will thank you. Not sure where to start? This infographic from Self Lender gives some ideas in the form of self care tips to help combat money stress.

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My motherhood duties required me to take two months of unpaid leave, and of course that dragged the inconvenience of staying without an income for awhile. I’ll be starting work in a week and I have mixed feelings about it, I’m glad because I love working and staying busy yet I’m anxious about leaving my daughter. I’ve actually considered quitting my job and being a stay-at-home-mom but part of me doesn’t want to accept that. Being on an unpaid leave came with stress which I mentioned earlier, here are some of the ways that helped me survive those months:

  • Saving Money

I mean it’s an obvious thing to say. I managed to save enough money to pay for my car installments for those two months.

  • Consider using paid off days

During my pregnancy days, I’ve been saving up my off days so I can make my maternity leave longer and get paid each month.

  • Ask Family Members for Help

I’ve depended on my husband for probably most of the things I needed, obviously financially. Don’t be afraid to ask family members for help whether you needed someone to help you babysit or lightly used baby supplies.

  • Take a Temporary Part-time Job

I like making friendship bracelets, they keep me busy. I decided to sell them on Instagram and it’s been helping me through the weeks thankfully.


What are your strategies in surviving unpaid leaves ? I would love to know what do you think.

 

 

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Movies I’ve Watched Way too Many Times

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When it comes to movies when you become a parent, you don’t really have that much of a choice. Most of the movies you tend to watch with your kids are mostly going to be animated and they’ll get replayed … way too many times. My son takes over the TV most of the time, sometimes we allow it and sometimes he just turn it on his own. You can’t really underestimate kids of this generation, they already know how to unlock your phone easily. Here’s a list of movies, my son forced me to watch with him way too many times to count but I have to admit that I enjoy the hidden adult humor in each one:

Chicken Little

I’m not sure why my son adores this movie but I was intrigued to see how interested he was in the music used. It has plenty of classics that would be considered too old for millennials but my son memorizes them, building his music taste a bit too early which I don’t mind.

Minions

Those yellow pill shaped creatures became the most lovable characters all the sudden from the movie Despicable Me, they look oddly cute and talk funny. My son discovered this movie from OSN channel and he’s been repeating it over 100 times, obviously took him time to say the word Minions so he used to call this movie Banana.

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Despicable Me

After he got introduced to the minions in the spin-off movie, I made him watch all three parts of the original movie and again he’s been repeating it over and over. Mostly being picky about the second part since the minions are more loud and purple, I mean I enjoy that part the most as well so it’s not all bad.

Cars

I don’t want to be the stereotypical mother and say boys must like cars and girls must like dolls but my son just adores cars, in fact he memorizes the car logos and says who drives that certain car regardless of size or color. Of course he’ll be fascinated about a movie that is all about cars and screams “MOM’S CAR” every time he sees the hippy VW car.

Toy Story

I was so happy to see that he got into this movie because it’s my all time favorite Pixar movie ever since I was young, I enjoy watching it with him. It made him question his toys if they move when he’s not around and he keeps asking me about it, it’s good to feed his tiny imagination.

The Incredibles

I’m surprised he got into this movie, he wasn’t into superhero stuff until he discovered Spiderman. Probably the red in their outfits that got him interested in this movie but he really enjoys it and sometimes imitates their fighting moves … boys will be boys in the end.

Hotel Transylvania

I made him watch the short movie that came out after the second part of Hotel Transylvania which was called Puppy! and since he’s an animal lover like me, that short movie made him love puppies even more. He recently found the full movie on Netflix and he watched it, and then started calling it “Bleh bleh bleh”

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Let me know which movies you’ve watched way too many to counts and what have you been enjoying lately, I’d love to introduce my son to more movies.

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Two Years Later…

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Couple of days ago, I was organizing the categories of older posts when I started this blog back in 2016. I had the time to revisit a lane of memories of my mental health back then, what I went through as a new mom and seeing how I’ve changed from that person to now was very interesting to me. Few posts stood out to me and I thought of reliving them and outline my thoughts now after I overcame some of my hardships.

But there’s something no one really told or warned me about, motherhood is beautiful yet lonely. As much as I had people around me, my family and my dear husband … I still felt lonely and some nights it made me cry. As a new mother, I didn’t know what is this feeling I’m getting and just considered it as baby blues, eventually it’ll somehow be gone. I didn’t want to call myself a bad mother for feeling this way but I still did and got drowned in my own negative thoughts.. Slowly became an expert in depressing myself and labelled me a Failure.

Motherhood is Beautiful Yet Lonely

I’ve always hated judgemental people, I thought I could deal with them but I forgot the most judgemental person of all was me. I’ve fed myself those ideas that I’m a bad mother because of the negative thoughts I’ve been getting and it caused me to create a bubble of isolation which I can assume that I thought would keep me safe but it only made me even more lonely. I was scared to open up about those thoughts because I thought others would judge me harshly just like the way I was doing to myself and that was wrong of me. For awhile I was scared that I would be getting those thoughts again now that I’m pregnant and it’ll be more of a cycle, but I realized it stems from a selfish feeling I had. I was selfish for not opening up about this with my husband whom I consider closest person to me, I was scared he would connect religion to mental health.

I told him about those thoughts I had and he was very supportive, it even got us closer more than before. Admitting my mistakes and talking about it helped me a lot during these two years after having our first child.

Stress can drown me easily because I’m quite an emotional person, I still wonder how my husband is keeping up with me. When my feet get tired from marching back and forth just to ease the baby colic days and I already know how many steps from the beginning to the end of the carpet. There were days when I couldn’t hold the burden of pressure and I just fall apart and cry, I’ve always stopped myself from talking about it to my husband which was a mistake.

The Me Time

I already admit it was a mistake but I went along with it for quite sometime. I think it’s pretty common for new moms to cry along with their babies from stress and all the unknown thrown at them during the first months, also hormones … never been a fan of you.

They keep saying “Your body did an amazing job, you created a new life and it needs time to recover” I feel proud that I tried the whole experience and going through what I called the worst pain ever but I miss my old slim body. I don’t really like the sagging loose skin on my belly and it makes me feel insecure around people at times, I can’t just suck it in and take short breaths just to look slimmer.

Postpartum Woes

Dealing with my body shape was one of the hardest tasks I faced when I became a mother, I wrote a post about it before when I was venting. I’ve been thin almost my entire life and it wasn’t exactly the healthy side of thin, but being with that body shape for a long time makes the process of accepting a new body shape really hard. It took me time to accept it but I can honestly say now I do, I love seeing my face having cheeks and I love seeing actual skin and fat without any bones sticking out.

Throughout these two years, I’ve learned plenty of lessons about motherhood. I could never ask for a better life, I found my purpose in life and I love every moment of being a mother.  I feel blessed having the honor of being called a mom of two …

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Baby Stuff I Won’t Be Getting

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On my first pregnancy, I was clueless and I was reading from books what items I would need when the baby arrive. I had plenty of stuff I never really used or even opened, I gave them as gifts for new moms maybe they’ll have use of them. I think the main difference between first and second pregnancy, is that you already know what’s going to happen each week as you read from those cute phone apps that tells you size of the baby and what organs has developed that week. Since you already got a toddler now, you don’t have that much time as before to read those things again but at least now you know your mistakes from the first pregnancy. Here’s a list of items, I won’t be buying this time.

  • Pacifiers
    I never really used them and I didn’t find the need of using them, my son was a quiet child and it was easy to calm him down.
  • Infant Car Seat
    Do you know the amount of time you need to make a child get used to a car seat? I remember how much my son was crying when I tried to get him in the car seat because I wanted to try going out with him on my own. I realized that day that it’s nearly impossible to do that, I rather sit in the back holding him while letting someone drive me which I’m also planning to do with my second child. Also babies grow fast so having an infant car seat would be a waste of money when the baby outgrows the seat itself then you’ll have to buy the bigger one which I’m currently using with my son since he was one year old.
  • Electronic Breast Pump
    I bought an electronic breast pump because I thought it’ll make the job easier but I was wrong, manual ones were the most useful for me. They are more portable and you can pump at your own pace instead of waiting for automated pumping with the electrical one.
  • Blanket Swaddle
    The difference between blanket swaddles and muslin swaddles is that blanket ones have flaps that makes it easier for you to know how to wrap your baby and you just stick it from point A to point B easily. For me I didn’t find them useful as my son found it easier to free his arms since it’s not secured that much and by night he would move his hands from the blanket and wakes up fast startled. That’s why I prefer muslin swaddles, I can wrap my child the way I’m more used to.
  • Changing Table
    I know they look so cute having them in the nursery but they take up pretty large space while having a crib, a closet and maybe a rocking chair. Eventually you’ll find yourself changing the diapers on the floor, it’s actually more safe so you can be sure your baby won’t roll in some way and fall.

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My Mom Hacks (Fails)

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No matter how much books you read about parenting, or even listening to other mothers advises … You’ll still go through few fails that I consider achievements, I mean at least I tried. I originally saw Geek Mama’s blog post which I really enjoyed and I’ve been thinking to post my own mom fails/achievements.

  • Sleeping – I think any mother would beg for a 6 hour sleep time with no interruptions so we try to make our children learn to sleep on their own. I did that … But for some reason he started waking up randomly at night and won’t sleep unless it’s with me and my husband. I tried giving him his favorite toys to lay down and sleep with him if that makes sense, it worked for about a week then he went back to his old habit. Recently, I’ve put a mattress on the floor with a pillow and a blanket. To my surprise, he tucks himself in that blanket and tells me “Mom, close the lights” and HE  SLEEPS. I’m not sure if he hates his crib that much or just want more of an open bed with no bars to hold him but he’s been sleeping well lately and that what matters to me I guess.
  • Potty Training – I hate it .. I REALLY HATE IT. Again I’m going to refer to Geek Mom’s post because it was hilarious, but let me talk about my experience. My son is confused why all the sudden I’m trying to get him to the toilet, he just gives me that confused look asking “What is this” “What am I supposed to do here” “You made me stop watching Minions for this ?” We stay in the bathroom for almost half an hour, singing all the nursery rhymes he memorizes and then read books. I sometimes get his toys to make him stay longer but nothing happens and he would look in the toilet bowl to see his invisible achievement. I would let him stay without a diaper so we would try again later, 5 minutes after that he pees his pants. It’s frustrating and it takes a long time to do but I can say there’s progress for sure, can’t wait for this to be done hopefully before giving birth.
  • TV Time – I love reading about all those researchers that advises against letting children have an extended tv watch time but at the same time I’ve seen so many parents let their kids watch tv for long time because it keeps them silent? Also I’ve seen so many parents give their children phones and pads to watch videos on YouTube to keep them calm while they finish shopping peacefully or just sit in the restaurant. I’m guilty for few of these incidents, honestly my son is obsessed with Minions so I let him watch the movie along with Despicable Me movies probably everyday. I also let him watch some videos on YouTube if we go to a restaurant and I just want him to sit and wait till the food arrives, I feel my son isn’t that loud or noisy so I don’t always use this method.
  • Broken Language – You might know that I’m Arab, so my son speaks Arabic but also English and he switches because some words in Arabic are hard for him to pronounce so he says them in English. Of course I constantly get judged by this because … I don’t think there’s a reason to justify that part, I wish I can just tell them shut up at least he knows two languages at a young age. I just think it gives a child a good base to start with bilingual background before going to school. It gets uncomfortable when my son for example says Hi or Hello to older people instead of السلام عليكم  (A’ssalam A’laykum) which is more of an appropriate greeting we have.

Okay I didn’t expect this post to be this lengthy, I guess I have plenty of fails to redeem with my second child.  signature