What To Do When You’re On Maternity Leave

Hi friends!

How’s your day going? 🙂

All is well over here. In just about 4 weeks, I’ll be returning to work. Wow…

This upcoming reality has me reflecting on my past 4 months at home as a new mom and how I’ve filled my time (you know, because raising a baby isn’t time consuming enough, lol).

It’s crazy how long days and sleepless nights turn into short weeks and even shorter months…

I’m a pretty Type-A person. I like to be busy, get outside, and stay social. Whether you’re like me or not, you most likely will be finding yourself with some spare time when you’re home on maternity leave.

I never really thought to sit with my mom friends before my leave and ask them how they filled up their time. Of course there are feedings, diapers, naps, pumping (if you choose to), middle-of-the-night wake-ups, and everything else that comes with having a newborn, but there’s also—surprisingly—a lot of quiet (sometimes even lonely) downtime, where you wonder…. what the hell am I going to do today?

When you wake up at 6am and say, your partner isn’t home by 6pm, that’s a whole 12 hours alone taking care of your baby. At some point, you’ve got to get out there and seize the day! Or you’ll start to go crazy…

Really… you will. 😜

Here are some things I’ve done this summer/fall that I’ve enjoyed with my lil guy. These things have kept me busy, helped me meet other local moms, and gave me some much-needed me time and energy to get through what are often very long, very draining days.

1. Baby & Me Yoga at One Down Dog
I’ve had a lot of fun bringing Henry to this yoga group every week. I try to go once, maybe twice, a week – depending on his schedule/mood. Sometimes I can do a lot of yoga myself, while other times he needs me more for a feeding. Regardless, it’s lovely to get out, socialize with other new moms, and exercise a little bit.

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2.  Fourth Trimester Group at PlayLab in Pasadena
This group has been great! I’ve met some really amazing women here and their cute babies. Once a week, I go to Pasadena and we have 2 hours of community time in a cozy space with pillows, toys and chairs. Plus, it’s FREE—which is hard to come by in L.A. We talk about anything and everything when it comes to nursing, pumping, toys, baby development, local events, and more. You name it, and someone there has info on it!

3. Lots of neighborhood walks
Take your podcast on the go. Get out there. Fresh air feels so good when you’ve been cooped up in the house all morning. I’ve taken Henry to The Americana, The Grove, local parks and to Whole Foods for strolls. Even just a 10-minute walk feels like a nice escape from the confines of your own place.

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4. Lunches with friends
I love lunch dates with friends. It’s a welcomed break to the day and it forces you to eat something!! Believe it or not, you will forget to eat sometimes. Baby is always first and they require ALL of you. 😀  I aim to meet up around noon, once Henry is fed. He’ll more than likely be napping in the car and at lunch which means plenty of eating and chatting for me! Win, win.

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5. Coffee runs
Coffee is key during your maternity leave, at least it has been for me. ☕️ Once I feel like I need a little afternoon pick-me-up, I head out for some java. It’s a simple, 20-minute outing but it does me and baby good. Whether you stay at the coffee shop or get it to go, it’s nice to treat yourself to something sweet.

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6. Museums
What better time to get to a museum during a weekday than when you’re on leave? Seriously. Museums are quiet, clean, AC’d, and just nice to explore. I definitely should have done more museum trips… there’s still time I guess! Huntington Library and Descanso Gardens are really lovely too.

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7. Library Story Time
I wish I discovered this sooner, but Glendale Libraries have some great free-to-the-public story times for 0-18 month olds. Henry really loved the books, games, toys, and songs… even though he was the youngest one there and really had no clue what was going on. 🤣

8. Farmers’ Markets
Free, delicious, open air, and fun to walk around. Plus, so easy to use a stroller or baby carrier here. I love the Montrose and Atwater Village Farmers’ Markets.

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9. Baby Play Dates
I know about 6 women in the area with babies and I gotta say, it’s so awesome to be able to meet up with them for play dates so we and our babies can interact. I’ve met up with these women at the mall, park, pool, and even at a brewery once! L.A. is pretty awesome because there are so many things to do and the weather is just about perfect…. most of the time. 😉 New moms know what you’re going through so it’s extra special to be able to chat, vent, and bond with them over common experiences.

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10. Breastfeeding Support Groups
These are great and often either free (at the hospital or for your first visit) or fairly cheap to drop in ($5-$10). I found them extremely beneficial when Henry was young and I was struggling with breastfeeding. The lactation consultants were patient, knowledgable and encouraging—and the groups of women were supportive too. Breastfeeding is often more of a struggle for most women than you know, so what better way to feel inspired than by sitting in a circle getting tips from other new moms?

11. Read and/or nap
When baby’s sleeping, take advantage of the quiet time in your busy day to nap or read a chapter of a new book. You really deserve some “you” time, so get it where you can. Even 15 minutes of shuteye will help you get through the rest of the day with extra energy.

Hope this helps all you new and soon-to-be mamas out there.

Your maternity leave is an extra special time. It flies by. I would know. 😉 Slow down and enjoy the softer moments that you’ll remember years from now, even if your eyes are half closed, your tummy’s grumbling and you’re in over your head in laundry and dirty dishes.


Ari

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