I really wanted Book of Mum to make some good suggestions of things to do when you are on maternity leave. It can be a lonely and strange time for some so here are some tips of good things to do and places to go in your maternity leave that actually don’t mind children being in their vicinity.
Tabitha was born in May which was a mega amazing fluke and also a wonderful time to be outdoors. I hope she realizes when she has her spring time birthdays what a winner of a birthdate this is. Well done to the parents I say.
The following is quite London centric as this was my experience being a London dweller but most of my thoughts, musings and suggests would most definitely apply nationwide.
There are probably a thousand more ideas to add to this pithy 8 point list. So any suggestions people want to make below for other readers would be very welcome.
1.Baby Groups – Some folks love them. Some folks hate them. However, for some they are a complete lifeline to reach out to other Mummy’s. With a recent article on how having a baby can be a very lonely experience for many – it is great to get out there and meet other mums who can form your circle and have some friendly faces who you meet regularly. Some people may have already done the NCT or Hypnobirthing thing and have a group of Mums with babies at the same age – bravo! But some people may not so check in with your local childrens centres and libraries and online and see what there is for you and your ankle biter. There are all sorts of groups from council run baby massage down at your local library to baby sensory. Some are free and most are affordable. We love Baby Sensory and music classes too. Tabitha is great with the maracas. Almost as good as Bez.
2.Museums and galleries – They are mostly free and have wicked facilities and they give you a chance to get some culture should you be that way inclined. When else would you have the time to really spend the afternoon in these amazing spaces whilst baby sleeps or occasionally requires a feed in a museum café?
3.Swimming Pools, Lidos – just to get a tiny bit of exercise amongst all the madness of the first few months of ‘babydom’ is crucial I think. I would really recommend tag teaming with a pal and taking it in turns to look after the babies. I loved London Fields Lido whilst Tabitha slept in her maxi cosi under the watchful eye of her “aunties” aka my willing mates. I also think babies love the water so take up a swim class with your baby and you can meet other mummy mates that way also too. (You need special water nappies, I would have never known – thankfully someone gave me one to borrow (not used) – you guys probably know but anyway just a tip).
4. Parks – fresh air and walking saved me. Get your pedometer working and you feel like you are getting a workout whilst pushing your buggy/pram/stroller. Buggy fit I am also told is brilliant and a fun way to get fit with your baby… Everyone in the same position wanting to rid of their baby weight and do press ups on park benches. I can imagine as an experience it feels quite brilliant.
5. Holiday/Staycation – home or away – babies are free to travel in the first two years – so if you can get away do and make some memories. If not a holiday away why not have a staycation and holiday at home and snuggle down as a family. The clichés are all annoyingly correct so I would make the most of every moment and get Daddy’s/ partners to take some time off and hang tough en famille.
6. Find a good local creche – as your baby reaches 6 months plus – you may want an hour here or there to do some work or write some emails or even just sleep – just one precious hour can be so useful. I use my leisure centre crèche so as I can do freelance work or work on Book of Mum. This time is precious and also means that if I work out or work out on my laptop I have a break from being a mum and come back to my main job as ‘The Mumminator’ refreshed and feeling some sense of accomplishment. With this in mind I would also add if you do one thing a day for yourself you will feel good, no doubt. You also will be a better Mummy. This especially goes out to the high-flighers and achievers ahead of becoming a parent. Do ONE thing for you a day. It will make you feel good and make you less resentful of not achieving. This is something I needed to come to terms with, some days you will do nothing for yourself or your list of jobs will remain un-ticked. So the one achievement a day rule sorted me out and enabled me to get stuff done – at a slower pace – but still getting stuff/shit done – which made me feel good and then makes me better as a Mum.
7.Baby Cinema – ok, so you can go the cinema with your baby – feed it, let it crawl around, it can even scream and you are surrounded by other people that are in exactly the same situation? WIN! This is an excellent choice for rainy days. My local cinema calls their weekly baby cinema fest The Big Scream. Its bloody brilliant. Check local cinemas for information.
8.Family and mates – a lot of people work with flexibility and also want to be around you and your baby, call on them. Book in all those people you want to see and want to see you. Use your diary to make sure you are doing things and seeing the people you love every week. If you can get organised and book a week or two in advance. This has really helped me stop feeling any loneliness. I plan. I prepare. When else would you have a chance to have such quality time with your favorite folk?! Memories made for all involved too.