Jenn in Toronto is working her way through our Rookie Mom Challenges with her son Sebastian and sent us this wonderful week of fun as her response to Challenge #17 (become the cruise director). A huge Merci to Jennifer for sharing her picks.
If you live in Toronto, here’s a superfun way to spend your maternity leave:
Monday: Mochas and music
Start the week off with some play and music for baby. Spend the morning at Lil’ Bean N’ Green. It’s a café and play space for babies over 4 months old ($5.00/day) . Babies and children can play with their equipment (hammocks, swings, reading corner), and if your little one is on solids, they sell local/organic baby food for less than $2 per serving.
In the afternoon check out a music class designed for babies. Most infant/toddler music programs allow you to come for a free demo class, and you can find many classes around the Greater Toronto Area. Play along with instruments as you learn new songs and build your repertoire. Some music programs to check out are:
Tuesday: the Arts
Find one of those paint-your-own-pottery places and go have baby’s feet painted. At the Clay Room you can select a piece (a trivet is always easiest and inexpensive), and they will help you stamp your baby’s feet onto the pottery. You can also buy a frame for the trivet to complete the look. Your piece will be ready for pick up one week after your visit.
Tuesday afternoons at 1:30pm, Gymboree runs a 0-6 month Play and Learn baby class. This class is also offered on Mondays and Thursdays. These classes are 45 minutes long and include songs, tactile and visual stimulation, tummy time, bubbles, puppets, a parachute, and parent discussions. There are also classes for older babies and children up to 5 years. Play and Learn classes are $88.14/month which include drop in gym times. They also offer a free preview class to new families. If you’re planning on getting a membership, keep an eye out. They have introductory specials from time to time so your first month is at a reduced rate.
Wednesday: Exercise then movies
If baby is older than 6 weeks, workout together at a Strollerfit class. These classes are offered by a number of different teachers and organizations throughout parks in the city. One class on Wednesdays at 10am is offered by Mom and Baby Fitness. The class is an hour long and is followed by a parent discussion. A single class is $20.00.
If you get tired just thinking about a Strollerfit class, maybe check out a mom and baby yoga class instead. Breathe Yoga Studio offers post-natal yoga classes on Wednesdays at 1pm at their Junction location. You can work on your core while bonding with your baby. This class has the added bonus of allowing you to attend when baby is as small as 3 weeks old. Drop in is $22.00.
In the afternoon, take your baby on a date to the movies. Movies for Mommies is a popular Mom and Baby movie group that has showings at theatres around the city on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at either 1 or 1:30pm. They provide stroller parking, a diaper changing station (with diapers and wipes), and offer free samples of other baby products. The cost ranges from $7.00 – $9.50 for you and no charge for baby
Thursday: Strolling and supper prep
Take a morning stroll in the city. High Park is always a hit. There are many paved pathways to walk along and enjoy. For older babies, Mike Holmes recently lead the building of a brand new beautiful playground after the original playground was burned to the ground in early 2012. If you go in April, be sure to check out the cherry blossoms. They’re only in bloom for a short period of time each year, and are a stunning sight to see.
Or check out the Toronto Botanical Garden, another stroller-friendly space to walk with baby. The gardens are open daily dawn to dusk.
Admission is free to both High Park and the Botanical Garden.
In the afternoon, pick up some food for baby at a Farmers’ Market. There are Farmers’ Markets daily at different locations around the city. Two great ones to check out on Thursday afternoons are at Dufferin Grove and East Lynn Park. Both markets are open 3-7pm and if you’re in East Lynn Park, they even have a Kids’ Corner with sing-a-longs and crafts around 5pm.
In the evening, let your partner watch the baby while you prepare some meals in advance at Supperworks. Choose your entrees online and then book a session to go prepare these freezer-friendly meals. They are perfect for nights when getting dinner on the table seems like an impossible feat. There are three Toronto locations to choose from and this is also a fun outing to do with another rookie mom. Ask about their Stork Special. For the first two months after baby is born, they will prepare your meals for you in advance and all you have to do is come pick them up. Added bonus – if you prepare your meals during an evening session, they’ll offer you a complimentary glass of wine.
Friday: Library and more
In the morning check out a local library. Many libraries offer morning Baby Time Story Time programs for babies birth to 18 months. Though advanced registration is required, this program is free and includes songs, stories, and rhymes for baby.
In the afternoon find an Early Years Centre that offers a Baby and Me program. The Toronto Danforth location has one on Fridays at 2pm and is also free, though advanced registrations is required. Each week an early childhood educator runs an interest program for moms and babies up to 12 months. Sample programs include Mom and Baby Yoga, Salsa Babies, Circle and Play time, Early Literacy, and each month there is at least one program with a public health nurse if you have any questions about yourself or baby.
Saturday: Me time
Saturday is all about mommy. Treat yourself to a spa service at Sunny Mummy Spa and Boutique. The first of its kind in Toronto, Sunny Mummy Spa is a child-friendly spa that also has a childcare room. Using Aveda products, they offer services such as facials, massage, manicures, pedicures, waxing, or a number of different packages designed for mommy. The spa is generally open 11am – 5pm or by appointment. Supervised childcare is available on site for an additional $5.00 per visit.
After your spa treatment, take your little one and indulge in some shopping. If you have little willpower when it comes to cute baby items, buyer beware. These stores sell adorable clothing, toys, and accessories for babies and toddlers:
Finally, if you’re up surfing online during a late-night feed check out www.babysteals.com. Twice daily they offer high-quality, brand name baby products at a significantly discounted price. Shipping to Canada is usually reasonably priced and quick.
Sunday: Pandas and monkeys
Spend the morning walking around the Toronto Zoo. There are stroller-friendly paths throughout the zoo, and baby will enjoy the new sights, sounds, and smells. General admission from May – October is $25, and children under the age of 3 are free. Generally, the zoo is open from 9:30 to 4:30 in the winter and 9:30 to 6pm in the summer or over March Break. This year, the Toronto Zoo is getting a panda exhibit with 2 giant pandas that will stay at the zoo for 5 years. It will be an amazing outing for little ones to be sure!
On a warm afternoon, put baby in some Splashers and check out one of the city’s many many splash pads. Splash pads are free, unsupervised water play areas located at various parks and playgrounds. They often include engaging water features such as shower heads and spray jets that will keep baby entertained for hours.
Jennifer is a French and social studies teacher in Toronto on maternity leave this year with her son Sebastian who was born last May. She’s been working her way through the 52 Rookie Mom Challenges with Sebastian, her husband, Rob, and other rookie mom friends in the city. We can’t wait for the full report.
[Photos from Jennifer B and Yelp]