Once you've been home from hospital for a couple of weeks with your new baby and your partner has finished paternity leave, the best thing you can do is to get yourself and baby out and about. I realised this after about 3 weeks and found that the days where i had no plans were the ones where i got the most stressed and fed up. It's hard when you're a new mum and it's not always the 24 hour 'love-in' with your baby that you think it will be, sometimes you can really feel isolated and wonder where your own identity has gone.
In the early days with Isla I would spend lots of time with my best friend and her little boy and also my new NCT friends who were really good at setting up weekly get togethers. Some mornings after a rough night of no sleep I'd really not feel up to leaving the house but I knew that once I'd closed the front door behind me and started my trip out I would feel better. I'd also have the fear of her crying when we were out. I think this is a common fear, we're worried about how other people see us dealing with our new baby.
Once I was a bit more confident with Isla I started looking into places to take her for play and stimulation (and a chinwag and cuppa for me!), as I realised we needed to do a bit more than just take a weekly walk to the see the health visitor! One of the things I loved doing was going Rhyme Time at the local library. It's basically a half hour nursery rhyme sing song. The first time we went she was only about 8 weeks old and spent the entire 30 mins snoozing, while I probably looked like a zombie singing The Wheels on the Bus. As the weeks went by though, she usually stayed awake for it and loved looking at all the slightly older babies and children and defintely loved the songs involving being lifted up in the air and swung around. A trip to the coffee shop would usually follow whereby the smallest coffee shop in my town would house up to 20 mums, babies and buggies, all huddling over 1 cup of coffee each and all asking for our bottles to be warmed up! It was so nice to be out of the house, looking at the four walls could really get me down, especially as the housework had taken a nosedive and our house was a sh1thole!!
The other good thing about the library is it's where you can collect your baby's 'Bookstart' bag. Bookstart is a national programme that encourages parents to enjoy books with their children from an early age. The best thing about the bag is it contains 2 board books. We love reading to Isla and she's always had bedtime stories since we started a bedtime routine at 3 months. She now knows when we're asking her to fetch particular books and can point out things within the books and name them. Her books of choice are 'Spot', 'In The Night Garden' and 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'.
We try to go to the library at least once a month now, either for Rhyme Time, where she interacts a bit more these days and imitates us singing the songs (Row, Row, Row and Baa Baa being her favourites) or just to let her roam around and look at the books. I know not all local libraries are that warm and welcoming but it's worth checking out if yours has mummy and baby sessions as it can be a really great way of meeting other people and sharing fun times with your little one!