The right to maternity leave is to leave the house and meet friends for coffee or a walk.
But for many parents, the struggle to find a place where their children can be safe and stress-free can be challenging.
Now, thanks to my mom, Co Antrim, you can find a kid-friendly picnic or restaurant with just one click.
First-time moms Holly Hamilton, 28, and Catherine Moon, 27, are on a mission to identify the best hiking trails, cafes, restaurants, and activities across the country, then share their perspectives with others.
The Newtownabbey couple created a dedicated Instagram account called Exploring Babies NI, where they posted their tips for where to eat, drink, swim and more.
Speaking to Be, Holly explained that after a bad experience at Christmas, they avoided the four places where they were offered food and alcohol because they had children with them.
“Although it was Tuesday afternoon and there were no seats occupied, we were not allowed to enter with children. So, after this experience, we decided to explore the places suitable for children.”
Catherine admits that it’s hard to find places that make it easier to take prams into your home.
She said, ‘My boyfriend had a baby boy who was 10 weeks younger than Rory and our girlfriend was coming from college on the weekends to see her. I’ve written to them at several places in town saying there will be two strollers, and they just said ‘a wheelchair you can leave outside’.
“You can’t really leave in March. So they offered to put them on a high chair, but I told them they were still too young for them and they just said they couldn’t help it.
“We just thought, why can’t we have lunch with the kid on a Tuesday afternoon?”
Catherine continued: “When you’re dealing with kids’ Google issues in Belfast, it comes out like the Titanic Quarter and the W5, and you don’t want to bring young kids here, and everyone knows about these places too, so we wanted to find new places…”
The two, who met through a mutual friend while pregnant, now travel regularly to cafes and restaurants and even take walks with 20-week-old Rory and 18-week-old Jonas.
“We got a message that they tried the suggested seats and liked them, which is pretty good. We also wrote about Loughshore the next day and made sure to bring our parking info because it’s easier along the parking lot. By the way, would you rather someone like us go through all of this to see if It was worth it.”
“We know how difficult it is to be outside with the whole team and the kids, so you want to make sure all that effort isn’t wasted.
“It means a lot when employees are on their feet and you feel welcome, so we want to talk about these places,” Holly added.
The moms also studied kid-friendly businesses that won’t break the bank.
“You don’t want to constantly sit in a bar to leave the house. Some baby lessons are great, but they can be expensive and if babies are sleeping or crying all over the place. Think of it as a waste of money and maternity pay is very low, so it’s okay,” Holly said. Find free items.
Kids’ Lessons in Libraries are excellent and completely free, so it’s well worth a subscription.
“We tried a 5kg baby pillow, which was only 50p per session, and it didn’t really fit us, but it was a great crack as we met many mums which is very important.”
The couple urged other fathers to get in touch with the new proposals and also urged those considering maternity leave to be somewhat isolated.
“We’re so lucky that we have each other and some of our friends have kids but some people just don’t have any support, so it’s good for mums to explore places where you can meet other moms you can meet,” Holly added.
To find kid-friendly places and activities that Holly and Katherine recommend, you can view their Instagram page here.
I’m an experienced news author and editor based in New York City. I specialize in covering healthcare news stories for Today Times Live, helping to keep readers informed on the latest developments related to the industry. I have a deep understanding of medical topics, including emerging treatments and drugs, the changing laws that regulate healthcare providers, and other matters that affect public health.