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Thursday 6 December 2012

Maternity Leave is Wasted on Babies

Babies, eh? Cute little, adorable, needy creatures that rely completely on you, and you alone for all their needs. Right?


Apart from the whole breastfeeding thing (let me state at this point that I'm a big advocate, so this is a major flaw in my entire argument, but we'll handily gloss over that for the sake of my argument), let's face it, most babies couldn't give two hoots who provides them with clothing, nappy changing, feeding, bedding, bathing etc etc. Anyone can do it. Yeah, ok, there's a certain bonding element, but you're not going to love your child any less simply by outsourcing some of these activities to someone else on occasion.

Babies are fundamentally boring in the very early days, and not even you broody types can tell me otherwise. For the first few weeks, all they really do is pooh, cry, feed and sleep-at-all-times-except-when-you-really-want-them-to.

Number 2 daughter proves the benefits of box-sleeping
I remember before I had children of my own, a colleague with two daughters who were then roughly the same age as my own two daughters are now said to me that secretly she wished she could have had her maternity leave then, instead of when they were tiny. While to some it may be sacrilegious to admit it, I can totally see her point.

Now that my children are at school, I hear a lot of mums who have stayed at home until now say to me that it might be time they also now looked for a job. My tongue-in-cheek advice to them; don't do it. Yes, you may have a couple of extra hours free in the day while your offspring are at school, but believe me, you will need this time to do all the added administration that comes with school-age children. Dentist appointments, playdates, after-school clubs and school forms don't magically arrange themselves!

Then of course, once they have finished with the school day, there are extra-curricular pick-ups and drop-offs to be negotiated. A logistical nightmare with more than one child, as you can guarantee they won't ever be in the same place at the same time. Hockey practice will clash with choir rehearsals, and Brownies will never handily be at the same time as Rainbows... Plus there's always the odd child who will insist on having a birthday party on a school day. Try telling a 5 year old that they have to go to after-school club instead of a birthday party because mummy's working!

Plus, one major (dis)advantage a school-age child has over a baby is of course the power of speech. Yeah, so maybe your baby will cry when you drop them off at nursery or with a childminder, but a nice cinnamon latte with your colleagues later, and you kind of get over any guilt you're feeling. A child, however, can look you in the eye and ask the question all working parents dread; "WHY MUMMY?". Why can't you drop them off at school every day, why do they have to go to childcare, why can't you come and help in class, why can't you come on a trip... They're manipulative little beasts that know exactly which buttons to press and which heartstrings to tug for maximum effect.

And yes, they are actually more fun - you can do so much more together! My daughters like rollercoasters, and music and riding bikes, just like I do.

Finally, working full-time is a real bummer for your social life. How are you supposed to accept invitations to blogging events, pop round to your neighbour's for a cuppa and a natter, or meet up with lovely blogging friends if you have to book a day's holiday to do it?!

So, yeah, maternity leave is wasted on babies. Who's going to sign my petition?


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