When I was on maternity leave, I barely did anything – I was a first time mom and definitely needed to get my bearings. But there are so many great things to do on maternity leave with a baby in the DC area. This goes for new and experienced moms alike!
Whether you want to do something active or just experiment in new surroundings with your newborn, check out these 11 things you can do while on maternity leave in the DMV.
1. Go on Walks in the Museums
Avoid the lines by putting your baby in a baby carrier and taking a walk through the National Sculpture Garden, National Portrait Gallery or even the Renwick. Go at off-times, and even if the baby starts crying, you can sit and feed them, or make a quick exit and walk the National Mall. Plus, many museums, like the National Museum of Natural History, have play areas specifically designed for young babies up to age five or six. And the updated Air and Space Museum has a gorgeous area for nursing babies and for diaper changes.
2. See the Tiny Tots Puppet Show
Glen Echo Park is a great place to bring your baby on maternity leave – check out the carousel for when baby is older! They also have a small playground and indoor aquarium – but for the littlest guests, catching a Tiny Tots puppet show is perfect entertainment.
3. Story Time at the Library
Sure, your baby might be pretty young for story time, but it’s a great way to check out the DC area’s great libraries for when they’re a little older. Plus check out some books while you’re there! The MLK library is a favorite if you have other kids when you go because they have a big slide inside!
4. Hike or Visit a Nature Center
Depending on the weather, the DMV has a variety of easy hiking trails you can master with a baby carrier (like these that work well for a toddler), and we even have free nature centers if it’s a bit too cold to walk around outside.
5. Go Plane-Watching
Head to Gravelly Point and bring a chair (or park and sit on your trunk) and watch the planes fly over and land at Reagan airport. This place has nice water views, too, and is great if you have a toddler or other kids to entertain one day during maternity leave because they can run through the giant field in addition to watching planes with you and the baby. If you’re by yourself, you can also go on a nice walk on the walking/biking path that goes through the area. Check out these places for more aviation attractions.
6. Walk in Georgetown…
Tudor Place or Dumbarton Oaks are great places for walks that aren’t a museum or nature trail. Go window-shopping on your way to each location, and see if you can figure out where the secret swimming pool is at Dumbarton Oaks – that will come in handy in the summer! You can even make plans with another mom friend to meet at a baby-friendly coffee shop or restaurant. Favorites in Georgetown are Levain Bakery, Baked and Wired, and Falafel Inc. The C&O Canal is right there for great water views, as well.
7. …or Alexandria
Similarly charming, walking with baby or meeting a friend in Alexandria is another great way to get some fresh air while on maternity leave. Walk along the waterfront or window shop, and meet friends at baby-friendly restaurants or coffee shops like Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Tap, Punch Bowl Social, St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub and Grounded.
8. Head to the Baby Pool
If it’s summer and the humidity is getting to you, take your baby to one of the many free DC pools and lounge with your little in the shade by the baby pool. Test the waters with your baby, literally. And try not to feel self-conscious of your body – you just gave birth to a bundle of joy! Moms’ bodies are amazing, and so are moms. You’re doing great. In the winter, check out these indoor pools!
9. Sign Up for an Exercise Class
There are great postpartum fitness options in our area. I loved Fit4Mom since it is a great organization offering workout classes in places where you can bring your baby. Their popular Stroller Strides classes, for example, conducts workouts with/next to your baby in your stroller. For my location, these classes were done in a mall. Not only do you move your body a little bit each week with your baby, but it’s a great opportunity to meet and socialize with other moms. And your first class is free, so why not try it out?
10. Connect with Other New Moms in a Mom Group
If physical activity with your newborn is a bit much right now, sign up for some local mom groups to meet other moms. Check out PACE, MOPS or post on Next Door for other like-minded moms to arrange baby playdates!
11. Visit Baby-Friendly Play Places
There are several indoor play places that appeal to babies under a year old, and what better time to scope them out than while on maternity leave. A few local favorites are The Wonder, The Lane, and Little Town’s Playseum. The Building Museum has a great large, carpeted space to have a picnic with fellow moms on leave. Wegman’s Wonderplace at the American History Museum has a fun baby area too!
But bottom line: savor your time bonding with your baby! Maternity leave is a special time and soak up those snuggles. And, be sure to take care of yourself! Take a walk, call a friend, drink water, eat nourishing foods, move your body gently, and congratulate yourself for having just brought a new human being into the world!