13 low waste things to do on mat leave while your baby sleeps
Written by Katie
March 11, 2020
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on being a new mama bear! It's a wild, crazy, exhausting, wonderful, overwhelming, beautiful journey. For the first bit, when it's just you and your new babe during that initial maternity year, you'll spend a lot of time together! But, your baby will also sleep a lot, leaving you to fill some time! In the beginning, your baby will have 4+ naps a day! And even at 7 months, 2 long naps! Thats a lot of hours for just you.
And guess what, doing chores all day… not your job! Yes, it's good to keep up with the laundry and dishes so you aren't living in chaos - but those deep cleans in the bathroom or kitchen or sweeping and mopping the floor, that's a shared job between you and your partner! So don't you dare spend all day doing chores. Save that for the weekend or when your baby goes down for the night. You NEED time for yourself! To regroup, to rest, to do YOU.
You'll have 3+ hours of day light to find something to do for you. And I have some ideas that don't involve a ton of waste… so don't expect to find paper mache crafting tips here : P
** ALSO - this list isn't JUST for people on mat leave. It's really for anyone with extra spare time they want to fill.
…But first, let's set the mood! It's all about the ambiance after all. Ensure your house is comfortable, a happy place. Light a candle, put on a fire, get out your crystals, keep the coffee pot on, a good playlist in the background - keep the place nice and cozy so you always feel zen.
Type out your daughter or son's birth story
I thoroughly enjoyed this process. I think it's so important and special for your child to know how they came into the world, and more than that, for you to know every detail so you don't forget. Time goes quickly, and before too long, your kiddo will be 30 and asking … Questions about their upcoming pregnancy... what a perfect time to share your experience in the ultimate detail? I typed mine out and printed it off for my daughter, stuffed into an envelope that says "Happy 1st Christmas". I then placed it in her "time capsule" box that has other items I think she'll like to hang on to or look at one day.
Type out your love story between you and your significant other
Similar to the birth story, this is a beautiful exercise for you, your partner and your child. It's easy to tell your parents or kids the story of how you met... but they won't always remember the whole story, and you'll forget the sweet details, or the funny moments leading up to that moment. I typed up a 6-pa«e story of our "budding love" right up to the moment we became "girlfriend and boyfriend", then I ended on a "where are they now" section. That way, your love story will always remain, on paper at least! My husband and I had a fun time remembering back to our courtship, and I even added in journal entires from when I kept notes during that time. This also makes a great low-waste valentines gift!
On this note - call up your mother or grandmother and ask them about THEIR love story. You can take notes and write this out from them. A great way to keep connection with your loved ones, and again, makes a great gift.
Join a book club or, if you don't want to be social, read the monthly recommendations from from Reese's Book Club
If you are a reader, or simply like to be social, this is an awesome way to force yourself to keep up on reading, whether by audiobook or a physical copy. It also helps you keep in the know with the latest books, so your pop culture references stay up-to-date! If you join a book club, or start one with girlfriends, this also encourages you to meet up monthly and get out of the house for some great chats and a drink! On the flip side, if you are not one for company, just follow along with Reese's Book Club reccos, they are always top notch!
Watch trashy or reality TV on Netflix
I know, seems like a waste of time, but there's the thing, it's okay to sit back, drink some coffee and let your mind be harmlessly entertained. Don't feel guilty, ever, if you just don't want your brain to think! Some great shows out right now on the "trashy and reality" vein are Love is Blind, The Circle, The Bachelorette/Bachelor, Nailed It, Next in Fashion and SO MUCH MORE! ... there is no shortage, honestly : P
Start a project or something for yourself
Whether it's a blog, a podcast, knitting, baking, painting, sewing clothes - something that's just yours. Any kind of new project will keep you entertained and your hands or mind working at your own pace. In my case, I started this podcast and blog with my pal, Liv! It's a great way to chat and see her weekly, but also be able to do solo writing and work by having this blog. So test out a couple of options and find a few new activity… project that you've always wanted to do but didn't have time for... cause guess what, now you do! Hours of time!
Organize your photos
You have a ton of photos... in so many places! And you will only get more as your family grows and your need to take 30 photos a day of your baby increases. So, as daunting as this activity is, it NEEDS to be down! First, start by uploading all the photos from your phone, onto your computer, then organize those in whatever photo organizing tool your computer has. I use iPhoto, and organizing the photos by album! Then, you can delete al the photos form your phone and start fresh. Make sure you do this process every few months so it doesn't become too overwhelming! And while you are organizing photos on your computer, delete duplicates!!! You don't need 10 photos of your baby in that cute hat making the same face. 2 will do! Lastly, take all those physical photos in boxes, and put them in photo albums! They aren't doing anyone any good being stuck in a box in the basement. And if you want to go all out, write the names of the people on the back of each picture. My grandmother did this, and now that she's gone, I find it so helpful to see who was who, now that I can't ask her.
Your baby is asleep, so I totally get the need to do quiet activities, and the good thing is, there are still some great exercises you can do on a mat that keep you in shape and your baby asleep! Try yoga, stretching or pilates. Even some medication will do great things for your mental state!
Go for a walk while your baby naps in the stroller
I feel that a lot of mamas get too caught up with keeping the baby in one place, with the same music, or same sleep sack, that they fear any change will set them off. And if that keeps you sane, then you do you and keep the baby where they are - but, if you are a little adventurous, and your baby likes the stroller, than go for a nice long walk while your baby naps! If you can do this, it's a great way to give everyone fresh air and a change of scenery. I try to have at least one of baby girl's naps in the stroller so I can take myself, her and the dog out. I like to catch up on podcasts or audiobooks during this time too : ) win-win!
During your babe's longest nap, have a little spa moment to yourself. Shave your legs, cut your toe nails, paint your nails, curl your hair, put some mascara on, exfoliate your feet (we have a great scrub in our new ebook!) It feels good to look AND feel good! And hey, while your at it, put on some jeans instead of sweatpants! This of course doesn't have to be everyday, but on a day you feel not ourself, or just need pampering, just do it!
Games like crosswords (I play this online one!), solitare, colouring, jig saw puzzles are all a great activity to do for your brain and to keep your hands busy. Put a movie on in the background!
Write in your journal
This doesn't have to take long, or maybe you want to write long-form style journaling - but always keep a journal near by and update it when the mood feels right. It's a great way to remember small details or work out how you are feeling when you can't really put a finger on it. Even just a few words can go along way.
YES GIRL. Nourish yourself. Make yourself lunch, a snack, meal prep, bake cookies. Fuel your body with healthy, nourishing food, and a lot of it! Being a mom is a lot of work, and you need yummy calories to keep you going! Plus, it's nice to eat a quiet lunch or breakfast or dinner on your own sometimes. Using this time to make a big pot of soup and fill your deep freeze will also come in handy when you are completely OUT of time and need something fast. So yes, go and eat!
And last but not least, nap yourself! If you are feeling tired, mentally or physically, take the opportunity to nap when you baby naps, especially in the beginning when the nights are more broken up. I personally have never been a great 'napper" but if you are, take advantage!
I truly hope that this blog has inspired you to fill those hours of solitude with things that are meaningful to you. I have done every single thing on this list at least once, and it's helped me love my maternity leave so much! Never… or rarely… have a felt bored! Enjoy this time mama, you deserve it : )