The Ultimate List of Things to Do While You're on Bedrest
I'm currently on pregnancy bedrest (for the second time) due to preterm labor and a handful of other issues. Bedrest is one of those things that has been around virtually forever but hasn't been proven to be particularly effective, not to mention it comes with its own set of risks. For those reasons, it's prescribed only when all other options have been exausted, and there just isn't anything else to do. While the idea of lounging around for weeks or even months at a time might sound like a luxurious vacation to some, believe me, it gets old fast. I've always thrived the most when I keep busy, and I love to be out exploring the city versus being cooped up indoors, so if I don't have some sort of a plan my mental state starts to suffer pretty quickly. That's where this list comes in, I began to compile it during my first pregnancy and wrote everything out in earnest as soon as I found out I would be prescribed bedrest again. Hopefully, if you find yourself in a similar situation it can be of some help to you, I've tried to include as many resources as possible along with the suggestions, so you've been warned, I'm not joking when I call it the "ultimate" list, it's long. I've tried to break it up into sections to make it easy to jump around and find what appeals to you, and you can always bookmark it and come back to it later.
One more thing that I want to add: there are a few things I have found I need to be reminded of in times like this, so I wanted to share them with you as well: one, is that your time still has value. It can be easy to get caught up in feeling like you aren't doing anything anyways but how you choose to spend your time matters. I find myself struggling when asked what I've been doing while on bedrest, as though I should have produced the next great American novel with all of my free time. The answer is much duller. I have at least three appointments a week that I still have to get to, and usually spend the rest of my day recovering. I spend countless hours on the phone between doctors, pharmacies and insurance and I try to give as much attention to my two-year-old as possible when I'm able. In short, just because I'm in bed doesn't mean all of my time is "free," and I have to get creative with how I do spend those hours in bed because I'm limited to a reclined position.
The second thing I wanted to share is to give yourself grace. If all you are up to is curling up in a ball and binge-watching your favorite show, that's ok. Some days are harder than others, some days your mind and your body just are not cooperating, and that's how you need to take care of yourself. There is nowhere else you need to be, and nothing you need to do. Give yourself permission to take a break mentally when you need to. I know one of my toughest challenges is missing my physical outlets, like taking a walk around the block, when we get a discouraging test result or things get a little scary. Just try not to stay there too long, ok?
Finally, invest in yourself. If there's something you've always wanted to learn but have never had a chance, now is a perfect time. Learn a new language, read up on a subject that interests you or pick up knitting. If you invest in a new skill or hobby, it will stick with you long after this season is over.
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Learn something new:
If you're the creative type, or just wish to be, Creative Live is a great resource. Brush up on your photoshop skills or learn about something new, with courses in everything from typography to painting to how to start your own business, you can watch a live session free or purchase a course from their extensive catalog to watch on demand. An added benefit to the live option is that it functions much like enrolling in a class, you have to show up on time to follow along which is great if you're craving a little structure to your day.
Brit and Co E-Classes
Another excellent source of e-classes, Brit and Co, focuses more on fun, easy to digest lessons in everything from taking great iPhone photos to hand lettering, there's even a course on how to create a digital illustration of your pet.
If you've ever wanted to learn a foreign language or oh, say, brush up on your Spanish skills after taking five years of it nearly a decade ago, Dulingo is a great free resource. You choose your language, set a daily goal, then can either start with an intro if you're a beginner or take a placement test if like me you're a little, ok, a lot rusty. The lessons are interactive and feel like a series of pop quizzes or games.
With short talks on almost every imaginable subject, over 2800 of them, Ted Talks was created to spread ideas. Speakers range to everyone from Elon Musk and Steve Jobs to JK Rowling, with titles from Neurobiologist to Cricket Commentator. Each episode is 18 minutes or less, and you can stream directly from the website or download the app to your device.
It would be fair to say that I'm a bit obsessed with podcasts and have been for nearly as long as I can remember. I love having something to listen to while I'm editing photos or crafting, it keeps my mind occupied without taking my eyes off the task at hand. NPR's This American Life is essentially the gateway drug of podcasts, and I love its humanistic approach to storytelling, plus it's has been around for so long you can listen nearly endlessly without running out of episodes. A few more recent favorites are The Longest Shortest Time, for parents, those about to become parents and, well, basically everyone and Startup, a great listen with a very meta feel as it lets you listen in on the inception of the company that is bringing you its podcast. Finally, if you're a creative, Raw Milk, and Jen Gotch is OK Sometimes are excellent for navigating the sometimes murky waters of what being a creative professional really entails, all while keeping your sanity intact.
Silhouette or Cricut Cutting Machine
I recently picked up a Silhouette Cameo secondhand for just $25 (insane, I know) and ordered this project book to go along with it. I've had one of these machines on my wishlist since I was planning my wedding and have wished I had one since at every birthday, holiday and event that rolls around. Aside from trying my hand at DIY decorations and cards, I want to try and create some of my own nursery decor as well.
My one and only foray into Macrame has been a DIY version of this Helix light and a matching extension cord inspired by the inimitable Windy Chien, it consists of only a simple knot for the entire piece so it's about as straightforward as you can get. I picked up Modern Macrame by Emily Katz to try and expand my horizons a bit (review to follow) and am looking forward to learning as I go. At the very least the beautifully styled and photographed tome will look fantastic on my coffee table.
After hearing a friend repeatedly rave about the Everyday Watercolor book, which gives you a project a day for 30 days, and seeing the fantastic results of her own practice, I caved in and bought it. Having gone to art school I'm not entirely a novice at painting, but watercolor is something I have always admired that has somewhat alluded me. I have a tendency to overwork everything, which can create muddy colors and soggy paper. Hopefully, the tips and techniques in these daily lessons will help me learn to go with the flow a bit more and embrace the results (a good life lesson for anyone, bedrest or not.)
Adult coloring books have taken off in recent years as a soothing way to relax and unwind. There are so many great iterations but this is one of our favorites. The only real question is, do you prefer markers or colored pencils to fill yours in? (We're firmly camp colored pencils btw.)
Knitting is another one of those activities that pair perfectly with binge-watching your favorite show or listening to a podcast or Tedtalk. The repetitive motion can be soothing, and you can purl your way to a cute baby blanket natch. We love these kits that come with the tools, materials, and instructions all included.
Hand lettering is something of a lost art that is having a bit of a resurgence as of late. I love using the pro-create app and an iPad with a stylus to practice and am looking forward to checking out the book By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering alongside a few of my favorite Tombow markers for a more analog experience.
As a college student, I was virtually inseparable from my sketchbook. It accompanied me to lecture halls, coffee shops and my favorite spot beneath a tree on campus where I used to pass the time between classes. While my scenery might not be changing much these days, I'm still considering breaking out my old Moleskin notebook and rubber eraser.
Woven wall hangings are a great way to add a bit of texture and visual interest to your space, and there is an abundance of tutorials around the web. I'm partial to those incorporating chunky yarn a la Meghan Shimek and am eager to learn how to create one of my own.
I've seen tutorials for chain stitch embroidery all over Pinterest, and it has me itching to try my own hand at embellishing a piece of clothing, I think a denim jacket might be a right place to start. I was especially inspired by these tutorials.
Recipe and Household Binder
I actually just finished putting both together using these printable from Tumbleweed Press. A “household binder” in my case contains all the pertinent info someone would need who is housesitting, pet sitting or caring for my child, including emergency phone numbers, basic operating instruction for appliances like the dishwasher and an outline of our usual schedule.
While you have your recipe book handy, you can make a meal plan for when you get off bedrest. We recommend keeping it simple for the first few months post-baby, but when you’re running low on sleep, it can be nice to have the guesswork taken out of it and streamline those trips to the grocery store with baby in tow. I use Pinterest boards to do much of my planning (you can check out my favorite recipes here), but there are also apps like Paprika and Yummly to help simplify the process.
Emergency Plan/Contact List
It’s always a good idea to have an up to date emergency plan and list of contacts on hand, it’s even more critical when you’re close to delivery and already have some littles (or pets) at home. I included info like the nearest pediatric ER and the number for poison control in mine along with info for our vet and pediatrician for our contact list, and you can find some great information on how to create an emergency plan here and create an emergency kit here. It's also a good idea to have a basic first aid kit and fire extinguisher in an easy to locate spot.
Make a Budget
What better time to review your household budget and make a plan for the coming year that when you’re about to welcome a new member to the family (and a lot of extra expenses). You can create an excel spreadsheet or sign up for a budget management app like Mint. Either way, investing some time in financial planning is always a good idea.
With my first pregnancy I was determined to still plan my daughter’s nursery because, hello, I live for things like that. With a little help from some software, I was able to do just that. I asked my husband to measure the space out, plugged the measurements into a floor planning app then used it to create a layout of the area with the pieces I was shopping online. I also used Pinterest to source inspiration and Photoshop to build an inspiration board.
Update Address Book for Christmas Cards/Baby Announcements
Another bit if housekeeping you’ll be grateful for later, especially if you're planning to send out announcements. I love the address book feature on Postable, you send out your unique link, and your recipient fills the pertinent info in themselves.
Digitize Your Wardrobe
With apps like the Stylebook and the recently launched Finery by Brooklyn Decker, you can live the dream a la Cher’s closet on Clueless by digitizing your wardrobe and creating outfits from your device. You can import stock images from the web or, in the case of Finery, let it do the work for you by searching your email for any recently purchased items to auto import.
Write Thank You Cards
Alright, this one really is for me because I seriously need to get on this. If you've recently had a baby shower or just received a few gifts in the mail, a handwritten thank you is always the best way to express your appreciation, just ask Emily Post.
Do Your Grocery Shopping Online
One of the most frustrating parts of bed rest can be feeling like you're no longer a productive member of your own family. With a ton of great options that let you do all of your grocery shopping online like Amazon Fresh, Instacart and Good Eggs depending on your location, it's one task you can accomplish without needing to leave your house. Just be sure to schedule a delivery time when someone else will be there to bring the groceries in and put them away.
Do Your Holiday Shopping
Yes, I know, it's August, but I'm still planning to make a list and start scouting a few ideas because once I have both a newborn and a two-year-old, it's going to be a much more challenging task to accomplish. It also gives me a productive opportunity to indulge in a little online retail therapy, which can otherwise be a dangerous hobby when you have time on your hands, and it gives me plenty of time to set some sale alerts on sites like ShopStyle or CamelCamelCamel.
Start a Bullet Journal
In case you've never heard of the Bullet Journal, it's a method for organizing your life and setting goals with a simple notebook and a pen. Beyond the basic formula of the method is a lot of room for creativity, you can find some fantastic, inspiring examples by following #bulletjournal on Instagram.
Make a Baby Book
If you're anything like me and have an existing child, putting together a baby book to document the first year went straight out the window when you instead spent that year trying to keep said baby alive. Get caught up and do yourself a favor by setting up a system for next time, services like Chatbooks are perfect for this as they do most of the work for you.
Organize (and Print!) Those Family Photos
Speaking of preserving memories, there's nothing like seeing your family photos in print. Whether it's printing up a few 5x7's to hang on the fridge (and sending a couple to grandma at the same time), getting your favorites framed to hang on the wall or finally printing your wedding album (guilty!) now is a perfect time. An added bonus is reflecting on all those warm memories can be a much needed pick me up when bed rest is getting you down.
Put your handwriting and illustration skills to work to create friendly, handwritten postcards to send to voters in key races to remind them to get out and vote. Sign up at Postcards to Voters (Democrat).
Call Your Local Officials
If there's an issue that you feel strongly about often the simplest and most direct way to let your voice be heard is to make a phone call. Here's the official database to find the number to reach out to your local officials on every level from Congress to your town's mayor.
Volunteer to Make Calls for a Campaign or Cause
Phone banking is a great way to get involved with a campaign or cause you care about, you can volunteer to make calls for organizations directly like the Humane Society, or search sites like ActWorthy and Common Cause for opportunities to get involved.
Create a Moodboard on Pinterest
Whether you are still designing your nursery, planning your dream kitchen or just want to indulge in a little fantasy (I’m partial to the one where I have a little writing cabin somewhere in the woods) create a mood board on Pinterest and start gathering inspiration. It can be a great mental escape, and you may begin to find you’re honing your personal style at the same time.
Follow Your Favorite Bloggers on Bloglovin.
While it drives me nuts when I follow a link from Pinterest and am prompted to log in to read a post, Bloglovin on its own is a great platform to follow and interact with all of your favorite bloggers in one place. Not sure where to start? You can find me here... be sure to say hi!
Find a New Hashtag on Instagram
One of my favorite things about Instagram is all of the amazing niche communities that you can One of my favorite things about Instagram is all of the amazing niche communities that you can find on it if you know how to look. Whatever your interest from hiking, to gardening to astronomy once you stumble upon the right hashtag there’s a wealth of inspiring images to scroll through and like-minded people to connect with.
Plan Your Dream Trip
Need a mental vacation? Try planning your dream trip (or just a weekend away). Look up sights you want to see, places to stay and how to get around then save it for later. Just looking at images of a beach can be a mental getaway and it’s a great reminder that this isn’t forever and that you’ll be back out in the world enjoying the things you used to before you know it.
Youtube Beauty Tutorials
If you've always wanted to learn how to draw the perfect cat eye or master a messy fishtail braid, there's a beauty vlogger for that. From tutorials that will give you a full face of makeup a la a Kardashian to easy to master tips and tricks, there's something for everyone. Not sure where to start? We love Barefoot Blonde (Amber Fillerup) hair tutorials and Nikkie Tutorials unfiltered personality and incredible transformations.
DIY Nail Designs
Give yourself a manicure and try your hand at some DIY nail art at the same time. You could always check out Pinterest and Instagram for some inspiration, or you could just check out our recent post on how to create a simple, negative space manicure.
Do a Sheet Mask
Sheet masks are perfect to do on bedrest. You apply them to clean dry skin, lay back and relax and once you’re done there’s no need to get up, just remove and pat the remaining “essence” in, no rinsing required. We love the ones by Tony Moly both for their effectiveness and affordability.
Book an in-Home Treatment
While making it out to a spa or salon may not be an option, with services like StyleBee and Soothe you can have them come to you at surprisingly affordable prices. Just be sure to let your tech know you're pregnant, and if you have any special considerations, it's recommended you avoid foot and leg massages while on bedrest because of the increased risk of blood clots.
Do a Maternity Shoot
My sister insisted on taking a handful of photos when visiting during my last pregnancy and while I wasn't feeling my best at the time, I was so grateful to have them later. If you don't have a friend or family member who can take some for you, many professional photographers will happily book an in-home session.
Soak in the Tub
Check in with your doctor first on this one. In early pregnancy, a long warm bath was a lifesaver to naturally soothe aches and pains but is off limits for me now that I've started to dilate. If you're allowed to take a bath, make the most of it with a luxurious bath bomb, some candles, and a good book.
Diffuse Some Essential Oils
Whether you're a die-hard believer in the healing power of essential oils or just find the scented mist soothing (I fall somewhere in the middle) diffusing some oils at your bedside can be a treat. I've also noticed that unlike synthetic scents which are intolerable when I'm pregnant, they don't bother me or trigger my nausea. In fact, some like citrus and peppermint actually seem to help. We're personally crushing on the beautiful diffusers by Saje but you can pick up a more affordable version on Amazon or at Target.
I'll be honest here, the only time I do this is when I'm on bedrest. I'm usually one with the tendency to either let my mind wander or fall asleep during Savasana at Yoga. When I'm struggling either with stress that I have no outlet for or to breathe my way through painful contractions, however, I turn to the Calm app for a simple guided meditation, or I use their breath bubble to consciously slow down my breathing.
One of the best things that I did for myself this pregnancy was investing in some cute, comfy clothes that I could wear around the house and in bed. It helps to keep the days and night from blurring together and can be a confidence boost when you start to feel like a blob. Leggings and tunics are a good combo, and I love relaxed joggers and cozy cardigans.
Earn Some Cash:
While as a professional photographer I'm personally represented by Stocksy, who I love, even if you're a novice there are many sites where you can submit your iPhone images. The Stockimo app is a branch of the much bigger Alamy agency where you can submit pictures directly from your phone. I'm also a big fan of both VSCO and the Color Story app to edit those images on the fly.
Contribute to a Blog
If you have a specialized area that you're knowledgeable about or even just a unique point of view, there are many websites that will pay for guest submissions. One great place to start is the Medium Partner program where you're paid based on your readership, and here's a list of over 100 websites that pay for articles and blog posts.
Take a Survey
While you won't necessarily earn much this way, with websites like Swagbucks you can get paid or earn gift cards by participating in surveys from your phone.
Become a VA
If you have administrative experience or a relevant skill set becoming a Virtual Assistant can be a flexible way to work from home. Upwork is a great place to create your listing and find the right client.
Design a Digital Download
If you're creatively inclined put it to good use by designing a digital download. From table numbers and fill in the blank checklists for weddings to printable artwork or cards, to nursery organizers or recipe cards the options are endless. You can sell your work through Etsy's Digital download feature or on a site like Creative Market.
Find a New Series to Binge Watch
Whether it's watching every season of Top Chef in its entirety or the latest binge-worthy HBO series, this is the one time where you can get seriously comfortable and indulge guilt-free. We recommend picking a project off of our craft list to work on at the same time.
Watch a Movie (or Three)
Check out a new release or pick a theme, say, 90's rom-coms or under the radar cult classics, and run with it. Or if there's a trilogy you've wanted to check out, it's a good way to fill a day.
Get Into a Good Book
If you're anything like me you have a running list of titles you've meant to check out but have never found the time. Pick up a page-turner and relax with a cup of tea. We're getting ready to check out Crazy Rich Asians.
Pick Up a Magazine
While I know some say print media is dead and there's a good chance that the last physical magazine you read was in your doctor's waiting room, I still love flipping through them to get inspired and keep my finger on the pulse of trends in a way that's difficult to replicate. The other aspect that I love? They aren't too precious so you can tear out pages to save for later or just dog-ear them to your heart's content.
Whether it's an old-fashioned crossword puzzle or sudoku, a spirited game of bananagrams with a family member, candy crush on your phone or a video game; playing games can be both a great way to keep your mind active and lose yourself in something for a little while.
Find Your Tribe on Social Media
There is a group for almost every interest online, and it has never been easier to connect with like-minded individuals. Whether it's your birth month group on babycenter, a skincare subreddit for the product obsessed, a fan fiction site or the forums on basenotes, exploring your passion with like-minded people can be a great way to feel a part of a community (no matter how odd) and remind yourself of what makes you unique at the same time.
Join a Support Group
Another great use of online forums is to find support. Keep 'Em Cookin' has great threads for bedrest mamas, and there is private facebook group dedicated to nearly every complication you might be facing. Connecting with others who are in the same boat as you can go a long way towards making you feel less alone, as feelings of isolation can be one of the toughest aspects of bedrest for many. You can also potentially learn a lot from a group of people who have been through similar situations to your own (although if the question is, should I call my doctor... always call your doctor.)
Invite a Friend Over for a Visit
Yes, your house may be a mess, and you might be lounging around in glorified pj’s but invite them over anyway. Nothing beats having a good friend over for a visit whether you’re sharing some tea and pastries or just watching a movie together. When I start to struggle with my mood, this is the number one thing that will pick me back up.
Schedule a Playdate
If you have small children and are up to it, invite your parent friends to bring their kids over for a playdate, then enjoy the adult company while your kids play together. Yes, this will likely result in your house become even more of a mess, but it's usually worth the trade-off and a good lesson in learning to "let it go..."
Participate in "Family Time"
While you might not be able to participate in all of the day-to-day activities in the way that you used to, get creative and spend time with the family any way you can. Color together with the kids, let them put on a show for you or even snuggle up and watch a cartoon. It will go a long way both towards creating a sense of security for them and bringing some comfort to you. If it's currently just you and your significant other the same applies, have dinner together on a tray on the bed or watch a movie you've both been wanting to see, make sure you find a way to stay connected instead of just letting them fall into a caregiver role.
Call or FaceTime a Friend
When you can't invite someone over in person, or just lack the energy, the next best thing is a phone call. I'm not always the best about this as I'm so accustomed to communicating through text, but I still feel better afterwards. It helps to both prevent those feeling of isolation from creeping in and allows you to maintain relationships when you can't leave the house.
*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, click here for our full policy and disclosures.