Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Go outside and play, Mom!

New motherhood can be an isolating experience. Yes, it’s true that you’re now joined at the hip with another human being, but until they can talk, the early days of maternity leave can be lonely and boring. Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning there were days when I hardly had time to brush my teeth between feedings, diaper changes, doctors’ appointments, having my washing machine repaired (yet again) and trying to catch a nap after a long, sleepless night. In fact, the first few months of my baby’s life, I calculated that I spent an average of six to eight hours a day breastfeeding, especially during growth spurts. But there came a day when feedings became shorter, diaper changes fewer and further between and I realized there was simply no way that my baby would nap for stretches longer than 30 minutes at a time. Suddenly I had more free time on my hands and I wanted to get out of the house!

I’m fortunate that I had a few other new mother friends and family members that I could call on for company (and those numbers are growing – yay!) but I’m a social butterfly and I needed more. So here are some of the things that I found in my neighbourhood that helped me cope and still do, to this day…

Hit the gym
Before baby, I used to be pretty religious about working out and going to the gym at least four times a week. I even did prenatal aquafit and yoga when I was pregnant (not that it stopped me from gaining 55 pounds, but I digress). So one of the first things I did when I could was sign up for stroller aerobics twice a week at the YMCA. It was a great way to help shed the baby weight, not to mention getting out and meeting other mommies.

Now that baby is bigger, we’re also doing something (also at the Y) called Aqua Parent and Baby. It's basically an aquafit class where your baby joins you in the pool, floating around in a little “boat” made of heavy Styrofoam… okay, that might sound dangerous, but it’s completely safe and there are least three lifeguards on duty, I promise. Plus, the instructor, Loretta, has seven children of her own (and grandchildren)... need I say more?

Take some classes
One of my favourite spots in Pointe-Claire is a centre called Belles Mamans. It’s a pregnancy and parenting centre that offers classes, workshops, informational support, playgroups and yes, coffee. They offer everything from fitness classes (mom and baby yoga or salsa, anyone?) to workshops on subjects like introducing solids, baby massage, infant CPR, etc… Just last week, baby and I attended a fun afternoon there making handprints and footprints…something I might have attempted to do at home, but in this case, someone else provided the art supplies and did the cleanup! We also take a music class there once a week, which both my son and I love attending. I think this a pretty unique place and I love it. It would be great if more resources like this existed for moms everywhere. If you live in Montreal, I highly recommend visiting Belles Mamans.

Catch a flick
Once a week, Cineplex theatres show movies for mommies with their Stars and Strollers offering. Parents and babies can hit up their local Cineplex theatre to catch a movie in a baby friendly environment, including stroller parking and a change table. It can get a little noisy in there when the baby orchestra gets going (why is it that when one baby cries, all the others want to join them?) but as parents, I’m pretty sure we’re capable of drowning out a little noise as we escape with the latest Brad Pitt movie!

Those are some of my favourite playtime activities… what are yours, moms?

PS – I wasn’t compensated by any of the abovementioned companies for endorsement. I just like 'em!

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