I’ve been meaning to write this post for about three months now, since my time as a “new” mom is coming to and end now that my son is 10 months old. (gah! stop growing!) I’ve felt like since I had my son, I’ve re-learned the city in so many new ways. Instead of discovering the best restaurants and bars, I’m now a quasi-wealth of knowledge on the top mommy-and-me classes and how to find a last-minute babysitter. It’s taken me months to compile all of this expertise, so in case you’re a new mom or mom-to-be, I’ll save you a whole lotta time by simply bookmarking this page. Here’s a rundown on the best resources in Chicago for new moms.
One of the hardest parts about having a baby is leaving that baby with a total stranger. But it’s also one of the best part because it can literally save your sanity to go out with your hubby or girlfriends for a few hours. I have used Care.com to find long-term sitters, but for a random night out I love Chime. It’s a service that lets you book background-checked babysitters with references, educational qualifications, and reviews directly online, and they almost always have someone available. One caveat: it’s only for date nights — if you want a daytime sitter you have to make a special request.
Think of this as Class Pass for baby classes. Genius idea, right? As a mom you’ll quickly learn that you can plan the days’ activities literally no more than an hour in advance because of naptime, crabby time, snack time, the time it takes to get yourself out of the house, etc. Pearachute is great because it gives you a list of dozens of available baby classes in the city on any given day, and lets you sign up for a class until 15 minutes before it starts. It also gives you the luxury of trying out everything from open play-time, to music classes, to swim lessons, without having to make a long-term (or $300) commitment only to find out your kid hates the water.
Bump Club & Beyond is an awesome group that started in Chicago but has expanded and now hosts events nationwide. The “club” puts on all sorts of informative, fun events for moms and moms-to-be that not only teach you useful things like what gear you need for your child, to how to make baby food, but also give you the chance to meet women in the same stage of life as you. Crucial.
Chicago also has a ton of free and cheap activities for babies and toddlers. Almost every public library in the city offers free, weekly playtimes and music classes for kids. Many of the fieldhouses and parks in the city (like the Wicker Park fieldhouse) offer playgroup sessions that meet twice a week for 8 weeks (I think it’s 8, it might be 10?), and they’re only around $60-70 for the WHOLE 8 (or 10!) WEEKS! Compare that to the hundreds of dollars it can cost to register for a regular music class and that’s a serious bargain.
Also, I’ve met so many great moms at the park & libraries!
It’s a drop-in daycare center! The novelty of this won’t really hit you ’til you need it. I don’t care if you work from home, work outside the home, or stay at home, you’ll run into a time when you need backup childcare because your nanny is sick, or your daycare is closed, or you just need a day to yourself. I’ve tried a couple of drop in centers in the city, and The Nook, in Bucktown, is the best. For one, they usually have availability, unlike many of the other “drop in” centers I called. Plus, you can see the availability and book your child into the center right online. What I really love is that it’s also a regular daycare center (some drop-ins are literally just a room where someone watches your baby, and they don’t have nap facilities, the horror!). A regular center means your baby follows the same schedule as the full-time kids, which means they’ll get activities, naps, snacks, story-time, etc. throughout the day. Note that you have to get a health form from your pediatrician before your child can attend!
Am I missing any great mom resources?! Please enlighten me if I am, I’m always looking for new ones.