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What to do on Maternity Leave

Maternity leave/the newborn stage is a crazy time. You just birthed a tiny person and it has totally rocked your world. On one hand, the new adventure is so exciting and that little person has stolen your heart, but on the other hand you are sleep deprived and mourning who you were before this monumental event. I found that getting out and connecting with other moms really helped me to enjoy this special period of time. In this blog post, I am sharing some resources for things that I did when I was home with my newborn baby. I provide links that are specific to Chicago, however, similar activities likely exist in an area nearby you!

Join a New Mom’s Group 

If you are in Chicago, I could not recommend enough the Chicago New Mom’s Group. I actually participated in this group TWO times, after each of my kids were born. Linda, who facilitates the group, is a licensed clinical social worker, certified sleep coach, and a mom herself. Each week Linda picks a topic that is relevant to the newborn stage, like sleep training, and moms share their questions, concerns, and experience. It is truly a no judgment zone. I made some wonderful friends from participating in this group. This for me was the highlight of my maternity leave and if you are pregnant and local to Chicago, I recommend signing up. 

I have not tried it personally, but I have heard many people recommend the new mom’s group through the Neighborhood Parents Network. You can learn more about it here.

Bubbles Academy, a Chicago parent favorite for baby and toddler classes, has a 4th Trimester Village especially for moms and babies in the newborn stage. It meets once a week and you can drop in for a single class or register for the entire session. Each class focuses on a different theme and features a child development expert or offers parents and babies a chance to bond through an experience like baby yoga or a music class. 

Attend a Music Class

I’ve attended a LOT of baby and toddler music classes over the last few years. Here are my favorites. 

Lullabies and Wiggleworms at Old Town School of Folk Music: They have a few locations so you can pick what works best for you. They teach you all the classic baby songs. Babies love it and it’s great for adults to get a refresher. 

Stages Chicago: If you like musicals, movie soundtracks, or Disney, this one's for you. Each week in the session, the artists perform songs from a different musical or movie soundtrack. The artists wear costumes, there are lots of props, and always bubbles. This is a fun one for parents and babies alike. They also do birthday parties. They came and performed at my son’s first birthday and it was a huge hit!

Mr. Dave Music: Mr. Dave is a Chicago legend in the baby world. He has a studio on Division in Wicker Park where they have classes daily. He also does pop ups at bars and restaurants around the city as well as parties. These are some of our go to classes from birth through toddlerhood. 

Shop at Monica and Andy and attend a Tunes with Tim music class: As a new mom, I loved popping my baby in the stroller and paying a visit to Monica and Andy. They host a variety of mom and baby classes including Tunes with Tim. I  loved attending music class and then browsing the shop for cute baby gear. 

Go for a Walk or Try a Mom and Baby Workout Class

Take a walk at the Lincoln Park Zoo:

As a new mom and then a second-time mom to a pandemic baby, I did a LOT of stroller walks. Walking is free, easy, and you get some low impact exercise in. I highly recommend taking a walk at the Lincoln Park zoo. It’s free and if you go during the week, you can find easy street parking in the neighborhood and then there are lots of great things to look at while walking around. 

Mommy and me workout and yoga classes:

Once cleared for working out, I really enjoyed trying some of the mommy and me fitness classes that I found in the city. 

Prenatal fit: At prenatal fit, I attended a mom and baby bootcamp (and made some life-long friends) at this class. I also tried their mom and baby yoga class. 

FIT4MOM stroller strides: I did the FIT4MOM stroller strides class a bunch of times. This was a nice mix of quick walking with the stroller, resistance exercises with body weight or bands, and chatting with other moms. I loved the outdoor classes in the summer months to get some fresh air and a bit of scenery but they move inside for winter months so you can do it then as well. 

Sweet pea studio baby and me yoga: A few of my new mom friends and I checked out Sweet Pea studio for some gentle mom and baby yoga. This definitely wasn’t the hot sculpt yoga I used to do in my prebaby days, but it felt great to move my body in a way that was safe and in an environment that was warm and understanding.

Wander around Nordstrom or Target: These might sound like odd suggestions for a “what to do on maternity leave” list but as a new mom, it can be tough to get out of the house and a trip to a place like Target or Nordstrom can help make you feel like your old self again. 

  • A lesser known tip is that Target actually has fitting rooms designated for nursing moms (big enough to bring a stroller inside) so you can try on some clothes, feed your babe in a private place, grab some essentials, and grab a coffee too. 
  • Nordstrom is super easy to navigate with a stroller since it has elevators. Nordstrom also has a designated nursing space as well as changing space inside the woman’s lounge outside the children’s section. You can shop and if you find yourself needing a quiet and somewhat private space to feed or change your baby, they make it very comfortable.
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