Over the last few weeks I’ve been not-so-enthusiastically getting ready for my impending return to work after one year of maternity leave with my son, Monty. While organizing childcare, trying to update my wardrobe from my usual sweat pant and t-shirt uniform, and planning Monty’s first birthday party, I’ve had some time to reflect on the things that I’ve gotten to do with him and the experiences we’ve shared together. However, I have to say as I was patting myself on the back for keeping our social calendar full I started wondering who our daily activities benefited most. Monty, or me? I’ve had a really good time and met great friends. Does that mean I’ve been selfish? Have I been a good mom?
From the day we got home from the hospital with him, I was afraid that I wasn’t going to stimulate him enough or expose him to things that would be necessary for his happiness or development. After all, I was a new mom with little experience with babies or childcare. So, I promptly hoped on the computer to find baby activities in our community.
We live in Yaletown and moved here when I was pregnant because of the close proximity to daily conveniences as well as being steps to many recreational activities, so Monty wouldn’t be stuck in the house and a trip to the store wouldn’t be a huge adventure in the car. This proved to be a wise choice, as my research revealed many baby friendly activities around town.
The following are the things we do on a weekly basis:
Parent and Tot Gym
Yaletown Round House Community Centre: This has been great for Monty since he was about 7 months old. There are lots of toys for infants and toddlers, including a bouncy castle for the older kids. We like to do this on a rainy day when the toys at home are getting a little boring and it has been a trusty ritual when dealing with a restless child needing a change of scenery from the living room of our apartment.
Vancouver Public Library: This is a half an hour of time where great leaders go through some really fun stories, songs, and nursery rhymes. As a new mom this has been very useful, as I have to admit I pretty much didn’t know any kid friendly stories, songs or rhymes.
Fit4Two Stroller Fit:
This is a workout for moms where you bring stroller and baby along. We would meet at the Roundhouse Community Centre and power walk around the seawall and make various stops to do some strength exercises that are friendly to the post-partum body. I found this a great way to get back into some physical activity while being sensitive to my still healing body. The owner and instructor, Melanie , knows her stuff and is absolutely fabulous with the moms and even better with the babies, encouraging you to tend to baby whenever necessary. This is where I met a great group of moms, who I still keep in touch with through playdates, and the occasional mommy wine night.
A gym that offers an absolutely awesome one hour workout. It has a mom’s class Monday to Thursday at 10am. The instructor, Taunya, challenges you while also understanding pre and post natal issues. I can honestly say she has made me find muscles that I never knew I had. Equally as fantastic is Megan, who looks after the kids. No matter the age or the number she entertains them and keeps them safe. The look on Monty’s face is priceless when he sees them both as we walk through the door, and watching him play with the other kids has been a real joy. We’re here so much that Monty actually took his first steps there last week.
So, as I take stock of everything we’ve done, I realize that while I may have intended to do so much in order to stimulate Monty, help Monty develop, and give Monty great experiences in his first year, I have really helped myself as well. I have realized I needed to take care of myself emotionally and physically in order to be the best mom I can be. I have realized that I needed to get out of the house, connect with other moms, and socialize with adults just as much as Monty needed to be stimulated.
So, just because our activities benefited me greatly too doesn’t mean I was being selfish, it means that I found things for us to do that gave Monty what he needed and also allowed me to take care of myself. And the result is that he is happy and healthy, and so am I. That’s all I can ask for.