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ROOKIE MOMS Hit the Road

By Jackie Burrell
Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 at 6:02 am in Babies & Tots.

Whitney Moss and Heather Gibbs Flett were fledgling moms three years ago, juggling newborns and that housebound angst familiar to every new parent. So the two friends challenged each other to come up with a list of cool activities that would get them – and their adorable new babies – out of the house and back in the human race. The results became the RookieMoms blog. Now, it’s a book – “The Rookie Mom’s Handbook: 250 Activities to Do With (and Without) Your Baby.”

The small melon- and lavender-tinged paperback is the perfect size to tuck in a diaper bag and it’s loaded with activities that are vastly “more fun than wiping someone’s tushy.”

Sipping lattes and mochas at Berkeley’s Caffe Trieste the other day, Moss and Flett chatted about the book’s inspiration. Every other parenting book, they said, focused on how to play with, educate or hasten the develop of your baby. Those books are all about fun for the baby, not fun for the anxious, isolated, sleep-deprived mom.

Sometimes all a new mom needs is a little encouragement to get out of the house, rekindle friendships and dip a pinkie back into grown-up life. And on this particular brisk morning, that’s exactly what the pair is doing: sipping frothy mochas (and getting their calcium the fun way) while Moss’ daughter, Scarlett, age 8 months, plays in a high chair. “Scarlett’s happy with a dixie cup and we’re having coffee,” says Flett. “It’s fun for yourself.”

Read the full interview here, then take a peek at this sampling of Rookie Mom activity ideas.

BABY BRIGADE: Get a little splash of cinematic joy at the Parkway or El Cerrito Speakeasy theaters on “Baby Brigade” night. Tickets are $6 for grown-ups and babies are free, plus the pub serves beer and pizza, so you don’t even have to cook dinner. Live somewhere else? There are baby-friendly theaters in other cities too.

ENJOY MODERN ART: Remember museums? You can still do that. Pack up the stroller and head for San Francisco’s MoMA  to soak up a little culture.

RE-AWAKEN YOUR BRAIN: Find a weekly class (pottery, wine appreciation, public speaking, Italian) to get your creative juices flowing again. “Committing to your own fun and enrichment can easily fall to the bottom of the to-do-list,” says Flett, “but paying for a class can bump it back to the top. We know one Rookie Mom who took a painting class while her husband put the baby to bed during cry-it-out sleep training.” Check out your local adult education program for class possibilities or the Berkeley Parent Network for recommendations.

HIT THE LIBRARY: Visit your local library for baby and toddler storytime. “Someone else entertains your baby with a new voice and stories while you just space out and relax,” say Flett and Moss. “As long as you’re already there, check out a few board books, big kid books, learning-to-sign DVDs and video rentals for grown-ups. With so many unavoidable parenting expenses, it’s nice to go somewhere where it’s all free. And air conditioned.” (Click here for Contra Costa County library storytimes and here for Alameda county libraries.)

MEOW, BARK & TWEET: “At this age, visiting a pet store is actually better than the zoo and the parking is easier too. The animals are displayed in eye-level cages and tanks, so you and baby can easily peer into them together.” (And when you’ve exhausted the possibilities at the big box pet stores and little indie shops, may we suggest … the East Bay Vivarium? Boas, pythons, lizards and more.)

LAUNCH THE FIRST ANNUAL CAMP GRANDMA: Plan an overnight trip with your partner, even if it’s just reservations somewhere close – a San Francisco hotel or on the Sausalito waterfront. “Ask your baby’s grandparents to come stay at your place while you’re away, so you won’t have to pack up all the baby’s things. Train grandma and grandpa to use the car seat, stroller and coffeemaker, then LET GO. In the long run, Grandma, baby, Mom and Dad will all look forward to this annual tradition, and you can add nights as baby gets older.”

Other ideas? Click “comments” and share…

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