For many, having the possibility of getting a maternity/paternity leave in Denmark is already as good as it can get. And to be honest, is perfectly understandable since this country offers some of the best benefits worldwide for new parents. In many cases, families are entitled to a full year of paid maternity/paternity leave. However, through personal experience and testimonies of many others, the financial aspect of it and even the time the parent gets to be with the new baby isn’t all there is.
This extended maternity/paternity leave can have an important downside for the parent taking it, and considering that in most of the cases is the mom who takes the longest leave, we will focus here on the advises to overcome the challenges this period of time can bring.
The key is to beat isolation
Loneliness, isolation and even depression are some of the words some mothers employ when describing what those months at home really mean. And perhaps you might be surprise at first by reading this, but it is a reality that very few are really willing to talk about.
Not many have the strength to accept that thoughts of sadness and/or desperation came after being with your new precious baby every single minute of your day for a long period of time. Yet, reality is another, and many women, taking this extended leaves or ‘barsel‘, face some serious episodes of isolation that most of the times are overlooked, having as possible consequences some psychological effects on both mother and child.
The key in order to avoid falling into a passive and even counter-effective leave is to beat isolation and reach out to others in case you feel you need some additional assistance. Kelly Pacheco, from Talking Works, explained in this article how to tackle this from the psychological aspect.
The following are some additional practical advises to keep yourself going while enjoying what could be one of the best experiences when joining the parents group!
1. Meet others
As simple and basic as it sounds, the first advise is to get yourself and the little one out there. Whether you are a newly arrived to Denmark or you have been here for a very long time, be sure to open yourself to new groups of people.
Now that your have entered the maternity club most of your acquaintances will continue having their normal schedules and most surely will have a very different pace from the one you have now, reason why is always a good idea to reach to others that are in the same page as you are, meaning other mothers in leave, or others with similar interests you as have.
The Danish system will assist you initially by providing you a mother group, however if this is not a fit or still you have the need for more, be sure to check other groups in your area. Take a look at some ideas of where to start here. Many of the groups and organizations you’ll find in the different cities in Denmark will be open for you coming with a little one.
2. Keep yourself active
Denmark will surprise you with how many organizations, businesses and initiatives there are thought for mothers with small children. An even when active can mean many things, I recommend you very much to stay physically active. Join a club, a fitness center or simply a group that works-out freely.
It has been proven over time that regular physical activity will not only allow you to help your body recover after giving birth, but it will also enable you to create oxytocin and other substances in your body that will boost not only your happiness and self-esteem but also your everyday energy.
In the city of Aarhus you can find places to train with your baby such as Copenhagen Crossfit, Aarhus Crossfit, DGI Huset, Fit Family and many other smaller business dedicated to this. From Yoga to TRX there is a place for everyone, and the most important thing is that you’ll be able to join with your little one to all these classes. It is a win-win for everyone! Check your local area and ask others about this type of places.
3. Be productive
Last but not least, I recommend you to keep yourself occupied. And yes the easy answer to this will be you already have every minute taken with your baby in arms, endless feeding sessions and countless diapers. However if you’ve had a small dream, a hobby or something you want to learn for yourself, then this is the best time to give it a shot.
Sure, you might not become a champion in that sport you’ve been dreaming for years or you might not master the skill you left ages ago, but I promise giving yourself some time to do something only you love will bring you tons of additional happiness that might give some spice to your everyday as a new mom.
For instance, in case you are an entrepreneur, see this time as a shot for you to revise a lot of those sides of your business you haven’t checked in a while. The break might enable you to make some changes or improve things so you are more than ready when you return to the market.
Remember it is normal to have different feelings about maternity, not two mothers experience it the same way so it is important not to think your thoughts are something to be ashamed of. Most surely when speaking out you’ll find many others wearing the same shoes, creating this way a safe space to thrive altogether.
In case you or your love ones detect symptoms, feelings or thoughts of depression be sure to contact your GP, home nurse or other health provider to ask for assistance. Remember your mental health is not only at stake here but also your baby’s and family’s wellness.
Happy maternity to everyone!