Things to do while on maternity leave

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I feel very lucky to have had my babies in the UK and be entitled for a full year maternity leave. Although I don’t get a salary through part of it, I think this time I get to spend with them is precious.

Unfortunately pregnancy and motherhood left me a bit slow in the brain and I missed out lots of things I could have done with both since early weeks. I decided to write this post after trying to enroll in several activities just to find out that it is too late for a few of them and having a friend who just gave birth in New Zealand in mind. I wished I had someone to tell me certain things from day 1 I got pregnant.

NCT classes – I heard of it after having Laura and promised myself I was going to attend when I was pregnant again. Then, around March, I decided to look for a group near me just to hear from my boss that it was already too late, that I should have joined NCT just after the 1st trimester. I was very frustrated. NCT is a charity for parenting here in the UK and they run pre-Natal classes as well as other stuff. The best thing about it, in my opinion, is to get to know mothers in your area that will give birth around the same time as you. These mothers then gather to do things together after their babies are born. I just dropped my local NCT a note to ser if there is anything for mothers with young babies that I can join.

Baby massage – another one that I joined a little too late. Although the instructor told me there isn’t a real age limit (as long as baby isn’t walking), I find it quite hard to massage Bea when all she wants is to roll and look at other babies. I can see that the younger babies – 4 to 12 weeks – enjoy the massage more than Bea will ever enjoy. So, in my opinion, best age to start this is when baby is around 6 weeks old. Price for a 5 week course: £55 (I’ve seen more expensive ones but also seen free ones, from the council).

Baby yoga – I was looking at baby yoga classes to replace the baby massage classes once this is finished, in 2 weeks time, and also found out that it is recommended for babies between 6 weeks up to crawling. Well, Bea is very close to start crawling – she is already on her knees and moving back and forth on spot, exactly how Laura was a few days before she started crawling. From £6/session.

Baby sensory classes – this is way more flexible, and there are different age groups: the one I’m looking at the moment is for babies up to one year. There are other activities for older babies, who are walking. Prices vary from free (council – very basic) to £6-£8/session.

Baby music classes – same as above. I’m going to try one on the 5th november. Prices from £8/session.

Baby swimming classes – same as above. But I wasn’t very lucky with Laura. She was 4 months old when we went for a mum and baby class but the club near me was small and the dressing room wasnt very baby friendly – I had to leave her on a bench to get myself dressed, which was very dangerous and stressful. She wasn’t sitting but was rolling. Also, I found the water very cold and so was the dressing room, and Laura seemed to have a constant cold after we started swimming. I’m planning to give it a go with Bea at the new place I go to the gym, but only next year, as I have to pay for 10 classes (weeks) in advance and I’m not sure I want to commit to it just yet. Each class costs around £7.

Baby ballet – starts at 18 months. Laura is really enjoying her ballet class and I will definitely put Bea in as soon as she turns 18 months. We found classes on Saturdays, which is perfect for working parents. Each class costs £6, but you have to pay for a full term (6 classes) in advance.

Playgroups – there are various and for all age groups up to pre-school age, including free ones in libraries and other council buildings. I have only been to one yet with Bea because the ones I found are on Fridays and I had stuff to do. Sessions can be as little as £1 per
child, when charged for (see free options above).

Activities for mums – I mentioned the gym with creche on a previous post – there are other options like bootcamps where mums exercise with their babies and buggies. I’m also attending a “Family Meal” workshop for two hours a week and Bea stays in their creche. This is organized by our council’s Children and Family Centre. When this is finished, I will start a photography for mums with baby workshop for 3 weeks. Prices varies a lot, going from free (council) to £90 (photography). My gym membership costs £30/month (+ £3.5/hour for the creche).

At the moment Bea is at that age where she is too old for certain things and too young for others, but I don’t want to get to the stage I got with Laura, where I wouldn’t leave the house because I had panic attacks and post-natal depression. Forcing myself to do things with Bea has helped me not to go crazy and with winter coming, there are good chances I go mad if I don’t have stuff to do.

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