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Whitney Moss and Heather Gibbs Flett, authors of "The Rookie Mom's Handbook," sip mochas in Berkeley as they chat about new motherhood.

Those first babbles, the first glowing smile — everyone expects the sweetness of life with a new baby. But staying home with a newborn is a startling adjustment, says Whitney Moss — especially the first, sleep-deprived time around.

"It's really lonely," says Moss, dandling daughter Scarlett on one hip as she orders a frothy mocha at a Berkeley coffeehouse. "You expected joy, but you're essentially by yourself, except for the occasional coos."

Three years ago, Moss and best friend Heather Gibbs Flett were both new moms wrestling with the same housebound angst that faces most first-time mothers — by the time the stroller is prepped, diaper bag packed and baby's bundled up to leave the house, she's too exhausted to move. Or it's almost naptime. Or feeding time.

So, they challenged each other to come up with a list of activities to get themselves out of the house in those early days — a walk, an errand, or a jaunt to Caffe Trieste to reconnect with a friend.

At first it was a way to preserve sanity. Then, it became a rapidly expanding, Berkeley-centric Web site, RookieMoms.com. Now, it's a new book — a boxy, lavender and melon-tinged paperback that tucks neatly in diaper bags and offers 250 activities to do with a wobbly headed infant, bubbly 6-month-old or curious crawler in tow.

"So many books and parenting magazines focus on what to do that's fun for your baby," says Moss. "We wanted to focus on what's fun for you as a mom, besides kissing (the baby) all day."


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Before kids, Moss worked for the high-tech toy company LeapFrog, Flett for a Berkeley start-up that publishes customized cookbooks. And what began as a survival tool for the two technologically savvy women quickly became an online community for new moms and dads, not just here but nationwide.

Bay Area-inspired outing ideas — a stroller jaunt through San Francisco's MoMA, for example, or a movie at the Parkway's Speakeasy Theater on "baby brigade" night — have been supplemented with reader tips for Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other cities.

Having a baby is a wonderful thing, says Flett, but don't forget to nurture Mom too, starting with neighborhood strolls, quick dips into cultural life and time for girlfriends. It's good for you.

And besides, she says, "That's what people do. And moms are just people who have children."

Contact Jackie Burrell at jburrell@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Rookie Mom activities
From "The Rookie Mom's Handbook" by Heather Gibbs Flett and Whitney Moss (www.rookiemoms.com). Read more on the aPARENTly Speaking parenting blog at www.ibabuzz.com/aparentlyspeaking.
  • BABY BRIGADE: Babies are welcome at "baby brigade" screenings at the Parkway and El Cerrito Speakeasy theaters. Tickets $6. Information at 510-814-2400, www.parkway-speak
    easy.com.
  • PRETEND YOU'RE in paris: Head for your favorite outdoor breakfast venue. Park the stroller next to you and breathe in the fresh air. C'est magnifique.
  • MEOW, BARK & TWEET: A supersize pet store is a stimulating destination for soon-to-be 1-year-olds, and a better bet than the zoo. The animals are displayed in eye-level cages and tanks, so you and baby can easily peer into them together.