I had been working full-time for nearly 8 years, launched several businesses at certain times over the course of my career, and established a consultancy business last November. Work was always a big piece in my life and although I’m the constant questioning type, I never really paused or stopped to explore other options since I started. I had a focus and just kept moving forward.
Lately though, I had started to question if this was the direction I wanted to keep heading towards. Did I want to shift gears or explore other areas that could interest me or perhaps try different work models? Did I want to focus on the consultancy business? This especially picked up speed when we moved from Turkey to Toronto last August and I saw this big move as the chance to make big changes in every aspect of my life. However that didn’t go exactly as planned. Since we were new to the city and had millions of expenses to deal with, I didn’t have the freedom to quit my job and reset my career just yet. Few months after the move though, I learned that I was pregnant and instantly, I knew maternity leave would be the ideal time for this existential reset for my career (and of course life as well!).
Little did I know how difficult it would be to fully comprehend and transition into maternity leave after working full-time for such a long period.
Ready…Set… Onto the maternity leave!
Fast forward 8 months, I was very glad that I kept my regular full-time job and therefore could take the long and dreamy maternity leave (with EI benefits) that the Canadian government kindly offers. As of last week, I started my maternity leave and no matter how much I loved my job(s), I can’t tell you how much I’ve looked forward to it because of the reasons I’ve mentioned above. Sometimes you just have to stop everything you’re doing, erase your previous knowledge, judgements and conditions and just look at everything from a fresh perspective. I see this period as that time in my life!
Clearly, I don’t plan to use my maternity leave only to gain a new perspective on my career! I can’t begin to tell you how much I look forward to experience life with a beautiful baby and devour every moment with her. But at the same time, I know the fact that I’ll have my life turned upside down and shaken sideways will be a great opportunity to look at things from a different angle.
So, what happened when maternity leave actually started?
Friday was my last day at work and I spent the weekend as any regular weekend. When Monday came, I woke up at the same time as I always did, had my regular morning routine (which I really enjoy) and as soon as Barış left for office around 8.30 AM, I was like… ‘sooo, what’s the plan today?’ 🙂
Few minutes later, I noticed I had turned on my laptop and was working on my blog and content for the week. Few hours passed by like that and I noticed I was… um… WORKING!!
Reality of the transition
I was on the first day of maternity leave and was working like it was a regular work day. I realized I had to just relax and spend time on simple stuff, self-care activities, slowing down, reading, exercising, etc. Just like I had written down on my materniy leave bucketlist, right here. And I realized that I had to commit to doing these things because it didn’t come as naturally as working does! Work had simply become a HABIT over the years and I had literally forgotten how NOT TO WORK during ‘work hours’.
As silly as it sounds, I had to make an effort to do other things during my days and started creating silly-sounding activity blocks during my days for non-work activities. So much so that my ‘dedicated reading hour’ became a phenomenon among Barış’s office mates! 🙂
It’s been a full week as of today and although its funny that I had to make a conscious effort to maintain this, I’m very pleased with the balance I was able to keep between work and leisure over the past week. I had a very productive week, but at the same time, my mind feels quite rested and I’ve been able to allocate more time to things like exercising, cooking, reading, seeing friends that I wasn’t able to do so very flexibly before.
The art of adapting to a new schedule
I have some more time to fully transition into a freer mind and focus 100% on the baby’s arrival, but I feel I’m slowly getting the hang of balancing work and non-work activities and letting go of my tight 9-6 work hour mindset. Which is amazing!
I’m curious to know… How have you felt during your transition from a full-time work schedule onto maternity leave with no regular schedule? Any similar feelings, confusions or silly moments like a reading session all of a sudden turning into an inspiration moment and blog writing? Let me know in the comments below!