When I have a long stretch of unstructured time, I just about lose my mind. My first maternity leave was like that, but compounded with hormones, a little one, and a lot of self-doubt. To find my new normal, I made tiny goals to leave the house every day.
I like to have goals and a to-do list, even if it’s someone else’s list. Maternity leave–whether for six weeks or six years–is a tremendous bonding opportunity with a new baby (plus, it can be a fun time off from work, too!). My best tip for maximizing your own enjoyment with this beautiful gift of time is to set your to-do list aside and create a new set of goals.
(And yes, I realize I just asked you to make a new list in exchange for your old list.)
Here are some baby-friendly outings to work into your week:
- Walk around the block. Sounds easy, right? And yet I personally know some moms with five-month-olds who haven’t managed to tackle this feat yet. (Let alone, solo.) Come on, you can do it!
- Enjoy a pot of tea or a latte. Once you’ve mastered the easy round-trip, try to sit and relax in a cafe. Pretend you’re in Paris, with your little bébé.
- Do some reconnaissance. Scout your old favorite places for the perfect baby comfort zones (places to change, feed, calm) and build your intel.
- Create a memento. Are these to-dos too easy for you? How about painting some baby footprints on a ceramic tile? Or getting a hand-print squished into clay?
- Hit the grocery store for one thing. If the whole shopping trip has you freaked out — as it should — start slow and aim for one or two items.
- Find a yoga class you can do together. Search for post-natal classes that offer a supportive environment.
- Wheel through the farmers’ market. Push your stroller around and find a healthy treat for both of you to munch on.
- Enjoy a movie. Weekday matinees are pretty friendly to babies if there are no dedicated showtimes in your area.
- Take your sidekick shopping. Window shopping with a restless baby can be a money-saver if your hands are full.
- Visit someone at work. Interrupt Daddy’s workday and then go to lunch or show off your little one at your office.
- Bonus: start a Ladies Night or Moms’ Night Out. Every month if possible. You deserve it.