Maternity leave. A time for you to rest and recover after the birth of your little one. An opportunity for you to bond with your newborn and perhaps reconnect with your family, whether that be your partner, parents or older children. The first few weeks are likely to be a blur of excitement, a constant stream of visitors, various check ups for both you and baby (and let’s be honest, some serious sleep deprivation!)
However, what happens when everything starts to settle down, your partner returns to work, older children are back at school, and life for everyone else seem to return to normal? You may find yourself staring at the walls, craving some sort of structure to your days, not to mention a bit of adult conversation!
The team at MOTR know the feeling well, so we have put together our top 10 things to do whilst on maternity leave in Gibraltar.
1. Get online
Social media is an absolutely fantastic tool for new mums. Especially if you are feeling too exhausted to take a step out of the house, or a little alone whilst doing the night feeds. There are so many online sites providing information and a chance to chat to like-minded parents in the same position as you. Here at MOTR, we post articles we feel to be specifically relevant to parents based in Gibraltar, including product reviews, notifications of any up and coming parenting events and much more. In addition to these, we will soon be launching an online forum aimed at local parents. There are also many Facebook groups we can recommend such as Babystepps Gibraltar, Gibraltar Breastfeeding Association, Little Ones, Mummy and Me and Gibraltar 2012+babies. All of these groups offer lots of useful tips, advice or just the option to chat to other parents online.
2. Try going to a few ‘Parent-and-Baby’ groups
There are several parent-and-baby groups that meet on a weekly basis (or sometimes more) in Gibraltar. Try a few and find out which ones you enjoy.
- The Mummy and Me group meet on Thursday afternoons at Chiltern Court and offer breastfeeding advice in a relaxed environment. It is great for parents with newborns along with any older siblings, as there are plenty of toys around for them to play with.
- The Bumps and Babies group meet on Wednesday mornings and is based at Europa Point. This is another group that caters for both parents with babies and older children, with three rooms full of age appropriate toys and a mini soft play, along with a small outside play area.
- Monkey Capers (at the same venue as Bumps and Babies) is on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for 0-5 year-olds.
- PACS run groups aimed at different age ranges on certain days of the week, though these are subject to change, therefore check their Facebook page regularly. They also run a popular cookery club on Friday lunchtimes, 12.30-2.30pm at the Gladys Perez Centre which costs £2.50 a child.
- Finally, on Wednesday mornings Trinity Toddlers is held at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, which though more suitable for older babies/toddlers is still a lovely group to go to if your little one needs a bit of visual stimulation or you just fancy a coffee and a chat with other parents. There is playtime, story time, crafts, snack time and songs, as well as an outdoor play area.
For further details click on the links to find contact details, addresses and the price to attend (however most groups ask for £1 per child.)
3. Join an exercise class
Experts recommend that gentle postpartum exercise is carried out 6 weeks after giving birth (although it is always best to check with your GP if you are unsure as to whether you are ready to start). If you would like to participate in a class that keeps you fit with your baby in tow, aswell as socialising with other mums, then check out Babyfit Gibraltar for a list of classes available.
4. Meet friends for coffee/lunch
Ok, so this was how I naively imagined my maternity leave would be the first time round, endless meeting up with friends for a coffee and/or lunch with our adorable babies fast asleep in their prams, whilst we put the world to rights over coffee and cake. Well, the reality at first was that I had no friends with newborn babies to meet up with, and my adorable baby refused to sleep whilst out in the pram! (If you are reading this and feel like you are in a similar situation, then I’d urge you to read points number 1 and 2. Get online and get out of the house, this definitely worked for me with regards to making friends who were in a similar situation back then!)
Try arranging to meet up at perhaps Bistro 292, Biancas or the The Lounge or check out our soon to be launched Mystery Diner series which will be giving you the lowdown on the best child friendly eating establishments in Gibraltar.
5. Take baby to an activity class
The GASA Baby and Toddler swimming classes are very popular, and offer the opportunity for your baby to get used to being in the water and learn a few life saving skills from a very early age. Of course, these classes are also another option for new mums to get a little structure to their days whilst on maternity leave, and to interact with other parents with children of a similar age.
BabyFit also offer a few classes such as Baby yoga and Baby massage. These are aimed at younger babies and are a lovely way to bond with your baby.
6. Visit the Library
Admittedly, the children’s section within the library here in Gibraltar could do with some improvement (in my opinion!) However, there is a quiet space to sit down and read a few books from the selection available, with a few mats and beanbags for baby to lay on if need be. There is also a small cafe downstairs, offering a selection of light lunch options with an outside shaded area where you can stop and recharge whilst baby naps. For more on the library, have a look at Jackie’s article on her time there with her grandsons.
7. Go to the Park
If you are craving a bit of fresh air, then head down to one of the many parks here in Gibraltar. Alameda Park has a few small baby swings, and a lot of shade, so it’s perfect during the summer. There is also West View Park (behind Morrisons) which has several sections aimed at children of different ages, one of which has a large shade over it, so again a good option for the warmer months. A new addition to Gibraltar’s ever-changing landscape is the Commonwealth Park. This has large grassy areas, with winding pathways alongside the pretty lake and is surrounded by trees and flowers. We can definitely recommend heading down there, especially during the spring, with a picnic blanket for a few hours of relaxation with your baby.
Expecting a summer baby? Look out for a special feature on Beach Babies coming soon!
8. If the weather is bad, head to Kings Bastion Leisure Centre
When it is pouring down outside, or the wind is so cold that you don’t fancy heading out to a park, arrange a meet up with a few other mums down at the Kings Bastion Leisure Centre. The Rock Bastion restaurant has a large seating area with plenty of space for lots of prams, several highchairs and facilities for bottle warming and heating up baby food. There is also a toddler play area next to the restaurant, allowing crawling and/or toddling babies a chance to let off some steam if they start to get fed-up of sitting at the table. They may also be distracted for a short period by the lights and sounds in the children arcade area, or if they are sturdy enough, they can even try one or two of the rides on offer.
9. Drive to an indoor play area
For parents of a newborn and a toddler or pre-schooler it can often be difficult to find something to do that keeps both ages happy! Aside from the play area in Macdonalds, there isn’t a dedicated indoor play facility in Gibraltar (we can only hope!) However if you feel like venturing across the border there are some excellent places nearby. Check out our article ‘Top 5 Indoor Play Areas’ for some ideas.
10. If in doubt, shop!
Ok, it’s a bit of a running joke between the mums I’ve met in Gibraltar that whilst on maternity leave we spend a lot of time walking up and down Main Street, showing off our bundle of joy in the pram. It may sound a little silly, however if you have been at home for a few days with a colicky or overtired newborn, having a walk down Main Street for some interaction with adults as opposed to a newborn, is a real lifesaver. People will stop and coo over your baby, you could even bump into family members or friends for a quick chat. There are also some great products in Mothercare, ELC (who have a small area for children to try out a few of their toys) Dacta Galt, Mother & Baby, Baby Zone and Baby Love to name a few. Or if the budget is limited, then just window shop for yourself. A word of warning, make the most of this time when your baby is content to sit in the pram whilst you shop, before you know it you will have a toddler who may not be so happy to be strapped in whilst you browse the sales…
How do you pass the time whilst on maternity leave? Can you recommend any other things to do in Gibraltar? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.