July 10, 2017

10 'Out The House' Places To Take Your Baby

When you first have a baby, it can come as a bit of a shock as your friends often drift away and you find yourself suddenly lonely despite being with someone 24/7. I think looking back it would have done me so much good to get out more in those early days, but I was glued to my sofa in fear of the unknown, terrified of public feeds, nappy explosions and well, just other people.

Here are 10 places you may like to try to escape to with your new bundle if you too are feeling that same lost, lonely feeling. You can be as sociable or as unsociable as you like in terms of connecting with others, but it really does do you good getting out in the fresh hair, meeting other tired stressed lonely Mums & Dads and maybe even popping baby down with it's new mini pals whilst you grab a cuppa and a much needed sit down. Don't be scared, we've all been there!

1. Your local parks and woodland walks

Before having kids (or a dog) I wasn't keen on walking places. Having a baby to explore the world with with fresh eyes is just amazing. Somewhere like a local park can bring so much joy to your little one and as you start to point out those little things like squirrels, clouds and conkers, the more beauty you see in the world which can lift your mood, lift your spirits and you may even meet others doing just the same. If you have a park or nice green area nearby, you really should take a look as they're packed with great pavements for walks and delights you could explore with your new bundle. If your baby is very young, why not sit on a bench with an ice cream while they sleep, phone a friend or simply enjoy the change of space and quiet time. Exploring local woodland can be lovely, a complete change of scene outside with a peaceful setting, often with pathways or pavements perfect for an easy pram stroll.

2. Your local Sure Start center

Sure Start centres are hugely under rated. I used to think they were just for families in need, but they actually cater for everyone and in fact need as many people to go as they can muster as they are constantly under threat of funding cuts and closing down. In the centres you will find all sorts from baby massage, singing groups, family exploring groups, general play and crafts. You also have some friendly fully trained staff that are a godsend on a bad day where you may just need a little reassurance and parenting advice.

3. Church (or local) playgroups

Church type playgroups are great as they are usually held in a big hall, with lots of toys, with cake and hot drinks on tap as well as costing just a few pence (if anything) to attend. There will always be friendly faces and help with baby if needed. It can be daunting walking in to things like this on day one but you could soon make friends for life or at least have a relaxing hour while your baby plays, explores or gets cooed over by old ladies! I've not been to one yet that has any religious aspects either, so if you're not religious, don't be put off as they tend to be very much open to all. You might even find other baby & toddler groups held in local book shops, museums and schools.

4. Short courses

Every once in a while you will find parenting courses (usually through Surestart) which cover things such as paediatric first aid, stress management and healthy living. It's usually the case too that there is childcare, so baby can be looked after while you study, or just chat and rest for a few hours. Don't worry though, baby can stay with you and they will bring them out if they need you (Alf lasted ten minutes). I may have gone on to do a few courses largely for the break!

5. Meet an old pal for a coffee

This is an obvious one, but it's so easy to slip out the net when it comes to friendship groups. Often I think people wait to be invited but sometimes we need to step up and arrange something and it's really important to try this before too much time passes. Even if it's a friend without children, they will still love to see you.

6. Find a book, toy or sling library

Libraries in all varieties are great for getting out, meeting people and learning along the way. I'll start with toy libraries and if you're lucky enough to have one nearby, then they are brilliant for not only hiring toys, but trying them out before you buy, hiring soft play for parties and lots more. Regular book libraries can be surprisingly fun with kids too. Often now the dedicated children's section is far more than just a book zone, often with craft/story clubs for babies and toddlers, interactive toys and cosy reading areas. Libraries want the little ones to love books and so they are always welcome, even if just to sit on a beanbag reading baby a book on your knee. It's a small venture, but it's out the house and a change of scene for you both. Lastly, sling libraries if you are into baby carrying can be great fun. You can meet other like minded Mums, get advice on baby wearing and hire an often unaffordable sling for a few pounds a month. 

7. Meet other Mums/Dads

People seem to think it's uncool to ask to meet other Mums, but I think it's great. There certainly isn't anything cool about sitting in the house all day feeling trapped either, so why not hit up Facebook for some decent local Mum groups and ask if anyone wants to meet up? I know this is an utterly terrifying prospect, but we are all in the same boat and for the few people I've seen brave enough to post for 'mum friends', they have had an amazing response which just goes to show how many others feel the same.

8. Shopping

With a toddler, shopping can be pure hideousness at times, but with a baby the movement, warmth and light can often be calming for them if they are due a nap so don't be put off popping to the shops for a mooch or for anything you might need. If baby needs feeding and is a booby babe, have a list in mind of places you can go if you prefer to be out the way, and don't be afraid to feed out and about. 

9. Walk walk and walk some more

Getting out and just walking like a lunatic was one of the best things I did. Walking helped me strengthen my hips back up, get baby to sleep and clear my head with some much needed fresh air. If you have no plans just get walking, it can make you feel so good!

10. Soft play

I know the thought of soft play and giant kids screaming their way onto a rubber mat may be a little manic, but fear not there is usually a well placed baby and toddler area where depending on the age of your baby you may be able to explore with them. Soft play is a great place to meet others as there is always some background noise and distraction if you need it, plenty of bright colours and sounds to entertain a baby and again, usually an abundance of cake! Sold?

The main thing is that if you are feeling cooped up, you try and get out there as often the thought of it all can be worse until you actually brave it. You don't have to be a certain type of parent, you'll find others that you click with whatever the weather and even just getting out, having that change of four walls and some new noises can do the world of good.

*This is a collaborative post but all words and thoughts are my own.

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