If you’re a brand-new mum, the concept of boredom may seem very far away. You are probably neck-deep in shifts of 3 hours intervals consisting of feeding, changing, sleeping (way too little) before the cycle starts again. However, I promise you that if you have taken a year-long parental leave like a lot of mothers in Germany, there comes a time where you are dressed before 11am (yes really!). And spending the entire day alone with a baby, no partner and no plan becomes daunting. You can of course enjoy the time with your little one, the long walks with a take-away coffee in one hand and the stroller in the other. If that’s too little action for you then read on. Maybe you can explore some of the options below…take a look and tell us what you think!
Volunteering is a great way to feel good and meet nice people. The group Super Mamas helps new mums by putting them in contact with other mums in their area which can bring them freshly cooked meals. Once you’re able to find a couple of hours in your routine, it’s a nice way to meet new mums, part with your newly-found knowledge and make some connections in your area! Another idea is the organisation Welcome Mamas, where mothers help pregnant refugees or new mums find their way around Berlin. A godmother (who can speak German and the language of the refugee) will therefore assist a pregnant refugee over a number of months during and after the pregnancy. Such a rewarding experience and also a great way to put your German skills to the test.
Becoming a mother often makes you question your current job / professional activity and the work/life balance you have been experience. Your work may involve too much travelling, too many working hours, it might not be rewarding or not fulfilling enough. With a new family routine, you may want to reconsider your options. Now is the time to look your career in the eye and give it some thought. There are a number of career coaches who can help you figure out which direction you should take and / or if you already have a business idea, help you decide whether it is a viable option. We’ve worked in the past with:
- Melanie Fieseler (in English): specialized in empowering women’s careers (self-employed or in the workplace)
- Christiane Schild (in English and German): specialized in making your business plan rock-solid before you set off in the adventure of self-employment
One great option to consider if you are employed: working part-time on parental leave. For many parental leave means not working at all and looking after your child during 12 months. However in Germany every parent is entitled to 3 years of leave per child. And if your employer has more than 15 employees, you are entitled to working part-time during your parental leave. That frees up a lot of time for the required soul-searching and business-planning…
You should only start physical activity after consulting with your gynecologist or midwife. Start slow and remember that pelvic floor exercises should be part of any routine in the year following the birth of your child. Having said that, some mothers enjoy working out so much that they are not prepared to forego sports altogether. And they shouldn’t! There are many options for new moms to choose from in Berlin. The classical post-birth work-out class, Rückbildung in German, is a combination of light exercice and pelvic floor exercises. It is performed by midwives and is offered all over Berlin. This should be your first step after giving birth. You can partake with or without your baby. After this, post-natal pilates are great to strengthen your core. We love the post-pilates class in English by Juliette Savin at Wunderhaus (with childcare!) or at different places in Berlin. For the more outdoorsy mums, Laufmamalauf offers a great exercise program in groups, where mothers exercise together in a park with their babies in the stroller (in German). And if you want to go the extra mile, why not try a personal trainer? Claire Martin-Doyle is a British personal trainer based in Berlin and specializing in pregnant women and new mums.
Learn a language
If you’re anything like me, you maybe moved to Berlin with a couple of German words in your pocket and were keen to learn some more quickly. However, time passes, you meet expats, your colleagues in the office all speak English and before you know it, you’ve been in Berlin for years and all you can show for it are the same handful of words you knew when you moved here. Learning German may be important for you, it becomes even more so when you have a child. Soon you will need to deal with kindergarten and primary school teachers, and you want your language skills to be up to scratch. Relocation agency Archer Relation and nanny agency Extra Arms organize German classes with childcare on a regular basis. A great way to get started before finding childcare! The Volkshochschule (people’s high school in German) also offers German classes for parents of children between 3 months and 3 years of age. You can bring your child and learn German in a familiar setting. Several locations offer this service free of charge in Berlin. More info here: http://elternakademie-berlin-mitte.de/category/mutter-kind-sprachlerngruppe/.
What did you enjoy doing during your parental leave? Did you travel? Did you read books? What were your plans before and after and what would you do differently if you had the opportunity again?