If you’re one of the 5 million stay-at-home moms in the United States, you know the drill: feed, burp, diaper change, story time, play time, nap time, repeat. Sure, you have plenty to do to keep yourself busy but the monotony of caring for a child can be well, kind of boring. And talking to an infant or a toddler all day isn’t exactly intellectually stimulating like a business meeting or a night out with friends.
“Take the pressure off [yourself] a little bit and recognize that the boredom is totally normal and it’s part and parcel of being a parent,” according to Dr. Kira Bartlett, a clinical psychologist in New York who specializes in helping women transition into motherhood.
Bartlett says moms often feel an expectation to stimulate, teach, and entertain their little ones 24/7 which contributes to feeling frustrated, resentful, and bored. Instead, she suggests building unstructured play time into each day for your kids as well as some me-time for yourself. “You can’t expect to care for a baby unless you feel cared for yourself,” she says.
Moms Heather Flett and Whitney Moss recognized the need for mommy time when they started the blog rookiemoms.com. “We realized we weren’t the only people who found being a new mom disorienting,” Flett says. The site has ideas for activities categorized by age and with—or without—your baby in tow. Margarita mommies group, anyone?
Need to find your own inspiration? Here are five ways to add some fun to your day:
1. Get moving
Meet new moms and get in shape at the same time by taking a walk into town, at the park, or around the neighborhood. Buy a jogging stroller, join a fitness group like Stroller Strides, or enroll in a mommy and me class like yoga, dance, or swimming.
2. Take a trip
Go to a museum, art gallery, historical site, or nature center. Attend a story time at your local book store or library or just peruse the aisles. Visit family or meet friends for coffee. Even if the only thing you leave the house for is to run an errand, at least it’s an excuse to get out.
3. Become a joiner
Research mom groups or organizations for like-minded parents and attend their meetings and events. Check out meetup.com for groups in your area. Connect with other moms on Facebook, Twitter, forums, and blogs. Re-connect with moms you met at childbirth classes or prenatal yoga, or find out if the hospital you gave birth in offers mom groups.
4. Stimulate your brain
Take up a new hobby, finish a project you started before you were pregnant, or read a new book, even if it takes you weeks to finish. Volunteer your time to a cause you support or work a freelance job from home when your child naps or for an hour or two in the evening.
5. Give yourself a time out
Leave your child with your partner, grandparents, or a friend and take advantage of alone time to work out, go shopping, or meet your friends for dinner. Consider joining a babysitting co-op where moms rotate babysitting responsibilities for a few hours each week. Even if it’s at night or on the weekend, it still makes the days a little less monotonous and something you can look forward to.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, and women's issues, a certified Spinning® instructor, and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com