On maternity leave and addicted to your smartphone? Read this.

For the second time in my life, I am a mother to a healthy, beautiful little girl. This time around, I can safely say that I kind of know what I’m doing; this time I was armed with vague memories of what it was like to be a sleep deprived zombie, trying to understand a tiny demanding human that I was blessed to call my own.

Through all the feedings, the diaper changes, the precious moments of quietude and bonding, I’ve noticed one thing – I am much more addicted to my smart phone this time around. Perhaps giving birth to my daughter in the dead of winter and choosing to stay confined to my warm, heated home has something to do with it, but I’ve found myself constantly browsing my many social media apps on my iPhone, specifically Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. These apps offer entertainment and an escape, however I’ve come to realize that they aren’t doing anything for me. I’m simply wasting my time, and often dreaming of spending my hard earned cash on new outfits, new makeup, traveling and upscale restaurants due to the influence of the accounts I follow.

How to Have a Productive Maternity Leave

My daughter is only 2 months old, and I have already tried to have an “intervention” with myself regarding my alarming use of time-wasting social media apps. If you’re in the same boat as I am, and are struggling to keep yourself entertained or at the very least, remotely connected to the outside world at all during long feeding sessions, trust that there are ways to keep connected without having to be sucked into the dangerous (and often brain cell-wasting) lure of social media. Below are a few suggestions that I’ve tried, or plan on trying in the next little while to help you dig yourself out of the time-wasting social media rabbit hole.

1. Turn on your screen time monitor

On your smart phone, you likely have a screen time monitor that you can activate (Screen On Time for Android users, Screen Time for iPhone/iPad users). This app tracks how much time you spend on your device, and even offers you a breakdown of how you’ve spent your time: browsing social media, checking emails, etc. With this monitor turned on, you can set alarms for when you’ve reached your limit for the day. This is an alarming way (pun intended!) of realizing just how much time you spend on your phone on a day-to-day basis. This could be the wake-up call you need to start minimizing your time in the “digital world”!

2. Start a journal

Starting a brand-new journal dedicated to recording your memories of maternity leave is a wonderful way to document your life as a mother, especially if it is your first time entering the wonderful world of parenthood. Jotting down how you feel, what you’re thinking, your plans for your baby and family, and your goals as a parent is a productive way to keep yourself busy while your babe naps. Not only are you keeping occupied, but you’re creating memories that you and your children can reflect on in the future.

3. Create a scrapbook

Similar to the point above, creating a scrapbook of your maternity leave memories is another way to keep yourself occupied. This suggestion is for the creative types who love to express themselves through crafting, and it’s also a wonderful way to save keepsakes such as locks of hair and photographs all in one fun place. You can take your time designing it, building it from scratch. There are so many beautiful options for scrapbooking these days available at your local dollar store, which won’t put a dent in your maternity leave savings!

4. Take a walk

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I feel the need to emphasize this suggestion to moms on maternity leave. It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine of having a baby at home, that the thought of taking that baby and that routine outside of the house can seem daunting.

However, changing your environment every few days will be good for you, and for baby too. Taking a brisk walk to buy some groceries or grab a coffee gets you out of the house, and off your phone. If you’re stuck indoors due to poor weather conditions, consider driving your child to the nearest shopping mall to get some walking done indoors. Not only will this be a refreshing change of scenery, but you’ll also be working off any lingering baby weight.

5. Head to the library

If you’re lucky enough to have a library nearby, I strongly suggest dropping by on a weekly basis with your little one in tow. You can borrow books for both you and your child, and spend time reading to him/her while you’re there. Catch up on the latest magazines, borrow books that can teach you a new skill or hobby – the opportunity to learn at a library is virtually endless.

6. Exercise your brain with puzzles and brainteasers

Sometimes spending hours upon hours with children can leave a mom craving a different kind of mental stimulation. Crossword puzzles and brainteasers have helped me get through lulls in the day, as well as keep my mind sharp. They’re also amazing ways to make time fly by; I often find myself so immersed in puzzles that two hours pass and I don’t even notice! The best part is, you can download many of these activities for free, but I actually prefer doing it the old-fashioned way with a puzzle book!

7. Take your child to community classes

More often than not, municipalities across Canada offer free infant socialization and activity classes held at recreation or education centres. Taking your baby to these classes is another great way to shake up your routine, and meet some moms too. Mothers can always benefit from meeting other mothers who are in similar situations, and finding a good network can be beneficial especially when going through trying times in parenthood. Check your local city or town’s website for class availability; you’ll likely find Mother Goose classes, and even infant yoga!

8. Browse LinkedIn

This suggestion might seem a bit strange, especially since LinkedIn is considered a social media site. The reason I suggest it is because the articles seen on LinkedIn are often extremely educational and useful, especially for mothers looking to enter (or re-enter) the workforce after having children. I’ve spent hours reading and learning new things on this website, and find that although LinkedIn is a social site, the quality of articles is very high. If you don’t have an account, sign up for free! It never hurts to keep an online network that may benefit you in your career.

9. Take an online course

These days, online courses can be found at any educational institute, or even for free. I’ve found sites like Coursera and Udemy offer a wide variety of free online courses that you can sign up for at any time. I realize that taking a full educational course may sound daunting to a busy mom, however there are light course options that offer personal growth and education as well, such as courses on happiness and time management. Many of these courses are “at your own pace”, offering moms a no-pressure way of educating themselves. It’s always a good idea to feed the brain, especially during a time when our interaction with others and access to in-person education can be minimal.

10. Listen to audio books and podcasts

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks are a relatively new thing for me, and I’ve fallen in love! With these two options, I’m able to manage the juggle of child-rearing and housekeeping while listening to a thrilling story or entertaining podcast. You can access a wealth of free podcasts and audiobooks via your native device apps or through apps such as Audible and Spotify. What I love the most is that I can easily select something to listen to that matches my mood – sometimes I want to listen to a comedy show, other times I’m craving a psychological thriller. You’ll definitely find something you like. An added bonus – the audio will often lull my baby to sleep!

Have you ever considered a social media “intervention” for yourself? If you try any of the suggestions above, we’d love to hear how they worked out for you. Share your thoughts in our comments section below.

Stephanie Casino EsguerraStephanie is a wife, mom of two, dog mom and a creative content specialist residing in the GTA. Armed with a degree in fine arts, and experience in graphic design and digital marketing, Stephanie is always looking for her next creative project/inspiration/obsession. On any given day, if you can’t find her online, you can find her with her family, thrifting, cooking, or squeezing in a quick workout.