Twelve months ago I'd just started my maternity leave; I had plans of X, Y & Z to do during my 'time off' *biggest eye roll ever* but here I am with three weeks left of what's easily been the quickest year of my life, writing a reflective post on what I've actually achieved during maternity leave.

Before I left work I wrote down a plan of what I was going to do whilst on maternity leave which included eight poignant features, which I'm going to discuss first... Before we get into the deep stuff!

1. Swimming with baby.
We booked Amelia onto a six week baby swimming course when she was two weeks old, which in hindsight was way too early for her. That being said it was a lovely bonding session for her & Dan, and I'm 99.9% sure it helped with what could have been disastrous bath times.
We've since taken Amelia to our local swimming baths a handful of times & she enjoyed a lesson with LilypadSwim, however in the last few months we seem to have gotten out of sync with it all - She loves being in the water & both Dan and I enjoy it too, so we really need to get our butts in gear and get back to the swimming baths - That's definitely on the to do list for 2020.

2. Read all of the Harry Potter books.
Confession time. This one has probably been the biggest fail in the history of fails. I began reading the philosophers stone & I'm a good 75% of the way through it, but I just haven't been reaching for it.
I can't say that I haven't had the time to read, because I have, I just haven't been prioritising it. Maybe this could be a resolution for 2020 - Less screen time & more time with my head in a book.

3. Learn calligraphy.
Learning calligraphy was something I really wanted to do when I began maternity leave. Unfortunately I lost the bug half way through the year & have only just picked it up again last month.
So far I've really enjoyed putting pen to paper & actually having something for me, that isn't anything to do with the internet & something I actually find rather therapeutic. I suppose that's what I wanted from re-reading the Harry Potter books, I've just taken it in it's more creative form.

4. Get outdoors.
I've absolutely loved getting outdoors since having Amelia! Although I found it quite tricky in the newborn days, getting outdoors has been brilliant for my mental health & something I'd recommend to any new mum out there.
I try and get out of the house once a day, even if it's just to nip out to the shops, it's always beneficial. We do have some days when we're just chilling at home in our comfies, and that's totally fine, but let me tell you, they are long ass days & by the time we reach bed time I'm always regretful & craving fresh air.

5. Huts in the Hills.
I need to #PRRequest myself a trip to these shepherds huts, because in all honesty, I think that's the only way I'm actually going to get there. Huts in the Hills in Northumberland are some of the most gorgeous shepherds huts I've seen, but the logistics of getting away for a couple of nights without the dog or the baby is crazy. Not to mention having the spare cash, I've definitely been surviving, rather than thriving on my maternity wage.
If we did get to have some time away, something like these remote shepherd huts would be ideal. I love the whole nothingness that there is to them, no wifi, no signal, no TV - It sounds bliss!

6. Create a capsule wardrobe.
I am SO happy I've been able to create a capsule wardrobe this year! I've redefined my personal style since becoming a mum & have found some amazing pieces which work SO with my new postpartum body.
Admittedly it took me a good six months to get to the point where I was happy with how I looked, but now I'm here, I'm so happy and I'm actually feeling inspired by fashion again. It's the little things like that, that make me feel like me again.

7. Girls weekend in Berlin.
Leaving my baby when she was four months old for a weekend away in Berlin was a hella emotional time for me. I'd been mentally preparing myself for the trip before Amelia was even born and I knew that if I wasn't spontaneous and didn't pay for it upfront, then I probably wouldn't end up going as I'd be too anxious!
Looking back it was the best decision. I needed a break, Dan needed to spend quality one on one time with Amelia & I needed to feel like me again. There were plenty of tears, before, during & after, but a good time was had by all and I'm so glad I went as I had the best weekend with the best girls... And remember, a happy mum makes for a happy baby!

8. Grow my blog.
Over the last twelve months I've really transformed my blog & the content I produce on here. I don't write beauty reviews like I used to & I've pinpointed my niche to something I'm 100% passionate about. I've grown a community of women who are in a similar position to myself & I'd like to think I've become somewhat of an aid and a confidant to others which fills me with so much joy.
I've not made enough money to pay the bills from my blog (boohoo), but this has been my best year doing this whole online thing by a long shot - And I'm really flipping proud of that!

4 out of 8 isn't bad right?
Something I've really struggled with since being on maternity leave is my sudden lack of productivity -  It turns out you don'y actually get all that much done whilst on maternity leave, the baby kind of gets in the way of things.
I've found this really frustrating at times and have shed many a tear over feeling like all I am is a slave to my baby. There have been many moments where I've gotten inside my own head over the last twelve months and really beat myself up over my lack of productivity and achievements.

As a first time mum (as I'd assume with so many others) I went into maternity leave with a rather naive mindset, thinking I was going to have a super constructive year. Over the last year I've definitely learnt to lower my expectations & although in some ways I feel like I haven't achieved a great deal, there are many different reasons to say otherwise.

So, what have I actually achieved?
Firstly & most importantly, I have a very happy, very healthy baby (anyone else read that in Dr Hamster the vets voice?), who I've managed to keep alive for the last year! Looking after a child is no mean feat as I've come to realise over the last twelve months, so I'm standing here, giving myself a huge pat on the back saying 'you did this gal, you survived'!

I've started my phased return to work & everything so far has ran really smoothly. The back to work fear was real, especially as I'd had so much time off, but I was really pleasantly surprised with how well returning to work after maternity leave has been.

I don't have a huge friendship group at home and of the friends I do have none of them have babies, so we've definitely been best friends with Dr Google when it comes to raising Amelia. That being said, I've met the most amazing women online & constantly surrounded by so many fantastic mamas out there that I can always depend on to only be a quick DM away. Social media gets a bad rap sometimes, and although there are parts to this argument that I'd strongly agree with, I can't fault the fact it's brought me together with some amazing people. If only we all lived closer! It'd be bloody beautiful!

Finally one of my biggest achievements this year is finally becoming comfortable in my postpartum body. My body's had a big old transformation over the last couple of years and it's only within the last few months that I've finally thought 'you know what, she's actually alright' - Who I am now is actually amazing!
I've learnt to big myself up in the same way I'd big other people up - In fact I think more people need to get on this self-appreciation train and be a little kinder to themselves. Go on, do it I dare you! That actually reminds me of Queen Beady's #HappySelvesChallenge - Another train you should definitely be on!

In conclusion.
So that's my year wrapped up into 1500 words. It's been long, but it's been short - I've failed, but I've achieved - I've let go & I'm happier! And I'm going into 2020 with my baby & the attitude that I'm going to absolutely smash it!

What have you achieved this year?


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