Congratulations! It’s time for maternity leave! New moms often have a big adjustment as they settle into their parental leave. Once you’ve gotten used to your new life and the sleepless nights and are starting to get into the swing of things taking care of your baby, you might feel ready to see the outside world again and have some fun.
This list is full of practical, fun, and essential things you can do while you’re on maternity leave. Use the table of contents to jump to any section, or read through them all!
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Practical Things To Do On Maternity Leave
Having a newborn is exhausting! Don’t feel pressured into doing everything (or anything) if you’re still recovering from the birth process. There are a lot of great options on this list for every stage of maternity leave but some maternity leaves are longer than others.
If you’re going to be on maternity leave for a short time, try to rest as much as you need to. Sleep deprivation is real… If you don’t have a lot of support and aren’t sleeping well, taking care of yourself should be your first priority over anything else on this list. I promise it won’t last forever.
Try Out New Recipes
Maternity leave can be a great time to test out new recipes. If you’re going back to work after your maternity leave has ended, you may enjoy some simple home-cooked meal options like crockpot meals and nutritious meals that you can prepare a large batch of to freeze and take out later as you need them.
Do A Parent & Tot Class
Look in your area to see if there are different parent and tot activity classes. Sometimes you can take a baby & mom art class or music lesson. It can be a great way to get out and meet other parents and new mothers in the same stage as you and try something different.
Some yoga studios, dance classes, and gyms have parent & tot fitness classes for a wide variety of different levels. If this is something you enjoyed doing pre-baby, it can be fun to incorporate it into your maternity leave and continue doing what you love with you new favorite human.
Treat your self! Baby was up all night crying? Sounds like a great time to order take out. Eating out at a restaurant with a newborn can be tricky depending on the temperament of your little one. Try ordering in!
Arrange For Return To Work Childcare
Although it’s not the most fun to think about, it is practical to make sure your little one is being looked after when you’re returning to work. While you’re on maternity leave ensure you have childcare arrangements taken care of and, if possible, back up childcare ideas in case your plans change. You might want to check out this article next on the best jobs for moms.
Inexpensive Things To Do On Maternity Leave
Have A Picnic
Having a picnic is a great, inexpensive way to have some fun on maternity leave. Take a meal on the go with your partner and spread out a blanket in the shade. Plan a picnic with your friends or family members; it can be great for your mental health to spend some quality time with people you love.
Go For A Nature Walk
Going for a gentle stroll is a nice way to get your muscles moving and soak up some sunshine and fresh air. You can try out a baby carrier for a nature walk or use your stroller on paved paths. Check out some baby carrier reviews here on Mama’s Buzz and learn the difference between Ergobaby carriers and Babybjorn carriers and see my review of the Tula Explore!
Go To The Park
Try out your local baby swings! Once your baby has some head and neck muscles at some point between 4-6 months of age, it can be a fun time to try a baby swing at your local park. If you’re on maternity leave later when your baby starts walking, the park really becomes a fun place to explore together.
Maternity leave is the perfect time to start a free audiobook trial. If you’re nap-trapped with a cozy baby, all you need is some headphones for some quiet or soothing entertainment while you’re snuggled up with your little one.
Mall Walk & Window Shopping
Grab your stroller or baby carrier and head to the mall. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or cold outside, the mall is always the right temperature. Invite a friend and do some window shopping, or go by yourself just to stretch your legs.
Baby Milestone Photos
Taking a monthly photo of your baby is a wonderful, inexpensive thing to do on maternity leave. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be special. Check out my article for a new social media caption for every month of your baby’s milestone photos, they also work great as baby letter board quotes if you’re using a letter board with your monthly photos.
Visit With Friends
My place or yours? Visiting with good friends is an inexpensive, fun thing you can do on maternity leave. Bonus points if they bring you a coffee!
Go To The Beach
Do you live near the ocean or by a lake? Can you take a day trip to see the waves roll in? The sounds of the waves might just act like white noise and sooth your baby off to dream land.
Go To The Library
Spending a little time every week in the library can be a great new hobby for first time parents. There are often parent and tot library classes you can consider registering for that are geared toward having lots of fun with your newborn. You can also get a library card and take out some books for yourself or for you to enjoy with your baby.
Fun Things To Do On Maternity Leave
Mom & Tot Groups
Mom and tot groups usually target moms in certain areas of each city so you can find other parents with children of a similar age and who are living in the same part of the city. A mommy group can provide practical information on baby care as well as baby fun. Some moms find lifelong friends at these groups and it can totally be worthwhile finding one near you to attend with fellow moms.
Go To The Zoo
Your baby is likely a little too young to go ape for the animals! But exposing your little one to new sights, sounds and smells can be good for their quickly developing brain. If you have older children, this idea is definitely a winner as it will give you something to occupy them with and a nice day out of the house.
Go To A Botanical Museum
A botanical museum or even a greenhouse can be a great place to visit on maternity leave. They can be a peaceful and calm environment where you can soak in the beauty of your surroundings. Botanical museums often have specific activities for children to engage in that would be fun for older kids who are with you on this maternity leave.
Go To A Childrens or Art Museum
A childrens museum usually has fun activities and play areas for toddlers to hang out in and engage with. This can be a great idea if you’re on maternity leave with a second child. An art museum geared towards adults can be a fun place just for you!
Head to the pool for a mom and baby swim lesson, or just hang out in the shallow end and watch your little one learn to splash.
Go To The Splash Park
If it’s summer time, head to the splash park to cool off with your baby. Near the end of your maternity leave, when your baby is a little bigger and older, they might enjoy dipping their toes in for a splashy surprise.
Maybe the splash park is closed down for the season but you live somewhere with snow. Once your baby is old enough to bundle up all cute and cozy, sit them on your lap and slide down the hill. My one year old really enjoyed sledding this year.
Play In Your Yard
Get a splash pad or a baby wading pool. If your baby loves the swing at the park, maybe it’s time to get one for your yard? Investing in a few outdoor toys is a great idea; you can spend a lot of time in your yard for an easy way to get some fresh air.
Infant Activities To Do On Maternity Leave
Read Books Together
It’s never too early to start reading with your baby. Start with some baby books that have high contrast images. You can find my list of favorite black and white books for babies here. Nursery rhyme books and touch and feel board books with flaps, and textures are two other great options for reading with newborns and young babies.
Singing can be a magical tool to help sooth your newborn. Try putting on some music that you know the words to, or have fun learning some new rhymes and songs that children love. This can be part of your bedtime routine or put this idea in your tool kit for moments that seem to make your baby irritable. If your baby fusses during diaper changes, singing can help redirect them and make things fun again.
Singing is also amazing to help with language learning. It can help babies understand speech pattern and help with repetition of words and phrases.
Taste Safe Sensory Activities
Giving your baby new sensory activities to explore can help boost brain development. If you’re not big on sand because it will end up in your baby’s mouth, try a taste-safe activity like using crushed cheerios to play with.
Infant massage is another good choice for an activity you can do with your newborn on maternity leave. Use a gentle, baby friendly lotion and soft touch for a sweet bonding experience.
Infant Ball Pit
My kids still love their ball pit and it’s a definite highlight when their friends come over to play. If you have space in your nursery or playroom for a large fun toy I highly recommend an infant ball pit for hours of fun. As an added bonus, a ball pit is fun physical activity that promotes gross motor skills for your child’s development as they get older (and they have such a good time doing it!)
Tie a helium balloon to a clothes pin and clip it to your baby’s pants for a floating balloon kick activity. I don’t recommend tieing the string directly to your baby’s wrists or ankles for obvious reasons.
Many babies are mesmerized by the floating balloons that move when they move! Give it a shot for a fun inexpensive activity at home with your baby.
Special Things To Do On Maternity Leave
Baby Handprint Or Footprint Keepsake
One of the best things you can do with your tiny baby during your maternity leave is to take an impression of their hand and foot in clay or foam to make an ornament. Or make a handprint or footprint keepsake.
You’re going to look back on how tiny and sweet they were every year and compare it to how big your child has grown.
Massage For Mom
Your body has just been through a rollercoaster between pregnancy and birth… If you can, take time for a massage and do something special for yourself while you’re on maternity leave. Some providers even specialize in postpartum massage. Massage not your style? What can you do that you’ll enjoy? Pedicure, spa day, manicure? Find something you’ll enjoy and make it happen.
Start A Baby Milestone Book
You can start a baby milestone book by writing in a physical journal. Or start a new album on your phone for your ‘highlight reel’ of the best photos you take in your baby’s first year. It will make it so much easier to print a digital baby book out later if you keep track a long the way.
Start a time capsule
Are there any little things you can’t bear to part with but don’t know what to do with? Try starting a time capsule for your baby’s first birthday. They can open it on their birthday when they become an adult and you can reflect on their first year of life together.
Mat leave can be such a special time for a mom and baby to be together and form new routines. Near the end of maternity leave you may feel up for a new adventure and really enjoy some of the activities on this list! Whether you’re a working mom and you are trying to make the most of your leave, or you’re not returning to work but still wondering what to do in those early days with baby, there are so many great options here to choose from.