Snuggling with your newborn and binging Netflix are mainstays for new moms but what after a week or two you might start looking for fun or productive things to do on maternity leave that get you out of the house and enjoying your time off work.
It’s really easy it is to blow your maternity leave budget on Starbucks and “window shopping” at the mall and next thing you know, you need to go back to work just to get your financial house in order.
The good news? There are tons of things you can do to alleviate boredom during maternity leave that don’t cost a bomb.
I had two maternity leaves and here in Canada, that means I had 2 years off work with my babies. We are so lucky and in fact moms in Canada now can get up to 18 months off to bond and spend time with their little one.
Whether you have 1 year or 1 month off work, your maternity leave should be the best time of your life, I honestly look back at those two years as my favorite times ever.
First and obviously, I didn’t have to work. No boss, no deadlines, no stress.
Second, life took a gentler pace. It can be tempting to create “routines” and be go-go-go on your maternity leave but this really is a time to relax and just enjoy your baby. Trust me, this time will fly by.
Also, remember that you are a new mom and are recovering from the postpartum period. Give yourself a break.
You might also be learning to breastfeed which can be tricky at first. You might want to stay close to home for the first days just for this reason.
If you need help breastfeeding, check out these online breastfeeding courses you can watch from your phone while baby sleeps.
Read on for some great ideas for making the most of your maternity leave without breaking the bank.
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MORE FUN TIPS FOR MOMS
25 Things To Do On Maternity Leave
Most of the things on this list are free or really cheap. One tip I have is to make the most of any community events for new moms and try to get out there and make friends.
Even if you are an introvert, it really does take a village and making new mom friends will make your maternity leave that much more enjoyable.
Some of my closest friends are women I met on maternity leave 6 years ago, it’s been fun to have playdates and watch the babies grow up together.
5 Things To On Maternity Leave Before Baby Arrives
Before you baby is born, you may have a bit of time off work to get ready. Enjoy this time! Assuming your baby doesn’t surprise you early, you can really make the most of this maternity leave time.
This sounds contrite but take naps and just enjoy relaxing and lounging around. Thank me later.
2. Pamper yourself
Get your haircut, go for a mani-pedi and do those cute Korean face masks that you got from Amazon months ago and didn’t get round to using.
Once baby is born, your attention will be focussed on him/her and self care will likely take a back seat.
3. Prep Some Food
If you have time to prep some easy meals now , it will make your first months so much easier.
Stock up on easy to handle snacks (you will often only have one free hand) and healthy but simple meals. If you are feeling ambitious, prep some of these freezer meals for new moms that actually taste good.
4. Meet Up With Friends
Sure, you will be able to hang out with friends once your baby is born but relish your free time now and become a lady who lunches!
5. Get Your Nest Ready
You probably don’t need me to tell you to do some nesting (I see you, frantically scrubbing the kitchen cabinets!), but if you have the time, do some cleaning so that you are on top of things before your baby arrives.
Anything that makes newborn life easier will help you enjoy your maternity leave.
20 Things To Do On Maternity Leave (Once Baby Is Here)
Now your baby is here – what can you do with them that won’t cost you a bomb?
First of all, be realistic, your baby may or may not sleep a lot and for the first few weeks you might not want to venture out too far. Once you get comfortable, you might start getting stir-crazy and need to get out of the house.
1. Go For A Walk
You probably won’t be cleared for strenuous exercise right away but you can start walking around the neighbourhood as soon as you feel ready.
Walking with the stroller is a great way to start burning off that baby weight and your baby will most likely doze off with the movement of the stroller.
2. Join A Mom and Baby Group
Many communities have mom and baby groups that will allow you to socialize with other moms on maternity leave while your babies can get to know others.
To find local groups, check out local churches and community centres. Google is your friend here.
3. Start A Blog
I have to add this in because I started Seaside Sundays when I was on maternity leave and it was the best thing I ever did!
If you have always wanted to start a blog, now is the perfect time. I worked when my baby napped and sometimes in the evenings if I wasn’t too tired. You could start a blog recording your new mom life or about any topic you like.
It’s super cheap to get started and you might even make money on maternity leave! Here is my step by step guide to starting a blog that makes money.
4. Take Lots of Photos
This may sound obvious but with so much time on your hands, you can really enjoy taking cute photos and videos of your new baby. Look on Pinterest for inspiration and have fun recreating some of those professional photos.
5. Baby Barre Class
If you are not quite ready to leave the house but want to stay fit, try some free baby and me workouts on YouTube. I especially liked the barre classes where I could put my baby into a carrier like the Ergobaby 360 carrier.
6. Make Some Keepsakes
Get a head start on your Christmas or Mother’s day shopping with some cute handprint artwork. You can buy a clay kit like this one or you can grab some paint and salt dough and make your own.
Here are some ideas:
7. Show Off Your Baby
Is your baby really cute? Of course she is! Why not sign up to get them into commercials or magazines?
There are special modelling studios for babies and you can often find audition calls on Facebook and Instagram. This is one of the most fun things to do on maternity leave to make money but even without getting paid, it is a fantastic experience.
8. Library Story times
Most libraries offer community programming such as baby story time and sing-a-longs. They are normally free and are a great way to start exposing your baby to music and reading while you make new friends.
9. Go Swimming
Ok, you will have to wait a little while before you take baby swimming but there is something so cute about a little baby floating about in the pool.
Look for local baby swimming classes to get your little one used to the water or just go to open swimming times.
10. Start a Baby Book
Believe me, if you don’t start that baby book now, you never will. Especially if you have more than one kid. Filling out the baby book is one of the most productive things to do on maternity leave that you will love for years to come.
Don’t have a baby book? I like this one as it takes you from newborn right through to age 5 so you can capture their first day of school too.
11. Go To The Movies
Many movie theatres hold special mommy and me movie showings so you can watch an adult film while your baby (hopefully) sleeps.
The great thing about these special sessions is that its full of other babies so you don’t have to worry if your newborn cries or fusses.
12. Plan Your Childcare Strategy
Ok this is one of the most boring and productive things to do on maternity leave but it’s really important to start thinking about booking a daycare slot sooner rather than later.
Many centres have waitlists so if you don’t get going on this quickly enough, you might miss out on your preferred place.
Need some help choosing a daycare? Check out these Important Questions To Ask A Home Daycare Provider (Free Printable).
13. Catch Up On Netflix
Not everything you do on maternity leave has to be super busy and productive. This may be the only time in your life (until you retire in 40-50 years) where you can just do nothing and not be judged for it.
Snuggle with your baby and binge all your favorite shows, guilt-free.
14. Make Some Money
If your leave is unpaid or you just need some extra cash, you are probably wondering how you can make money while on maternity leave.
You can make some money for gift cards by using sites like Swagbucks. I routinely make $25-50 a month that I use for funding my Amazon habit.
15. Bring baby to meet coworkers at the office
You might not want to ever think about work again but taking baby to meet the team is actually really fun. It’s also good to give you a reality check that real life is still continuing while you are in your new baby fog.
Repeat again for your partner’s office and you have two awesome days filled with people cooing and admiring your progeny.
16. Attend a Stroller fit class
Once you are feeling up to it, look for a stroller fit in your neighbourhood. Obviously this will be a fair weather activity but it is fun to get out and exercise while your baby naps in the stroller.
A quick Google in my area brought up a bunch of different stroller fit classes so you should be able to find one easily.
17. Facetime and Skype With Loved Ones
If you have friends and family living faraway, spend some time catching up via video chat. Lots of us got used to this in 2020 and it is a fun way to keep in touch and let everyone see how cute your baby is.
I’m adding this in because while you may envision your maternity leave to be full of activities, you will be tired.
Even if your baby sleeps through the night from day 1 (quick, buy a lottery ticket, you lucky girl), you will still be recovering from childbirth and possibly a c-section.
The key with successful napping is to not expect too much. Most of my naps on maternity leave consisted of laying on a recliner chair with baby sleeping on me in a carrier after I tired her out during a barre class (all those squats are great for both your thighs and getting baby to sleep).
Don’t expect a luxurious nap in the bed every day but enjoy whatever sleep you can get at this stage.
19. Build Your Milk Stash
I get it, you only just got started with breastfeeding but if you are planning to pump while at work when you go back, it is a good idea to work on building up your supply now and ideally creating a freezer stash of breastmilk.
This will ease a lot of your stress if your supply dips. Need help building up your supply? I exclusively pumped for 6 months with my second baby and was obsessed with supply.
Check out my top tips:
Using formula? You can also consider building up a stash on the cheap by taking advantage of coupons, cash back and sighing up for as many free baby samples as possible.
20. Do Some Salsa
This may sound crazy but a class like Salsa babies is perfect for new moms who want to get active and meet new friends. You can take classes once your baby is 6-8 weeks old and there are locations across the US, Canada and the UK.
21. Fix Your Families Finances
Maternity leave might not seem like the best time to save money but it can be a good opportunity to take stock of your financial house, especially as you will soon have college to save for.
22. Look After Yourself
I’ll be honest, I hate the term “self-care”. However, there is something to be said for taking some time to look after yourself after your baby is born.
In some countries, especially in Asia, new moms do not even leave their bed for the first couple of months. Their baby is simply handed to them every few hours for feeding and bonding.
In the western world we are pretty hard on new moms, expecting them to look great, breastfeed, keep the house looking ok and keep baby alive all while experiencing a huge life change.
Make sure to book some time for yourself, whether it is for a bubble bath or a coffee with a friend, sans baby. The book below has 150 tips for looking after yourself while taking care of everyone else. It should be a must-have new mom gift.
More Tips For New Moms