The first advice I always want to give new moms is that they need to get out of the house, fill their calendar with social activities, and find activities they can handle with a baby in tow. I’m not saying to push a jogging stroller on a 10K run at Week 7, but if you really love running… maybe you should.
Here are five activities to slot on your maternity leave calendar. They are not designed to overwhelm you, but rather to stimulate your mommy muscle groups– accomplish these things and you’ll build courage, confidence, and camaraderie.
- Bring a seasoned mom friend on a recon mission. Explore your favorite shopping destination together with the goal of identifying places to change your baby and nurse if you’ll be wanting a quiet corner. Tip: try a bookstore with a children’s section. It just might have a changing table in the restroom and a comfy chair that you can turn to face whichever direction makes you feel comfortable.
- Go to a new mom’s support group or breastfeeding support group. Your assignment is to get another mom’s digits so that you can make plans to meet at a coffee shop or go for a walk. If you feel shy, use an ice-breaker, like “I was thinking about buying that stroller/carrier/pacifier leash. How is it working for you?” Your hospital or La Leche League are good resources to find where new moms meet. LLL is not for everyone, but they will probably know who else in your area runs new moms groups.
- Head for the grocery store. On your first post-baby visit to the supermarket, buy just one thing – to prove you can do it. I won’t judge you if a carton of Ben & Jerry’s is the “one thing” you need. Hey – it’s calcium!
- Visit your partner or a friend at work. Whomever can take a decent lunch hour is the lucky person who gets a mid-day snuggle with your baby. He or she can even hold the baby while you go to the ladies room!
- Develop a mental baby-centric map of your neighborhood. From where you live, can you identify smooth surfaces to on which to push your stroller? Even a bench where you might sit down and read while the baby sleeps? City moms, you can likely walk to a decent snack spot. The first few months involve a lot of quiet time. Fresh air will keep your spirits up, so make sure you know how to get it.
EXTRA CREDIT ACTIVITY: Get your hands dirty at a paint-your-own-pottery shop. They are all set up to help you get a tiny footprint made of baby. Place his painted foot on a frame or a tile and add the date for a keepsake. (This one was made and photographed at Brushstrokes Studio in Berkeley, CA.)