Q&A: fighting the new-mom boredom

Deanna writes:

"My sister is expecting her first child at the end of January.  Due to my husband's transfer to a VERY faraway state (think pineapples) around the same time, he and I worked it out so that I could move back to Maine for about two months when my nephew is born to help my sister take care of her baby and then will go on to meet up with my husband later.  She and I are both excited about this and I can't wait to be an auntie, but we do have a big concern.  The problem is twofold, and we have already discussed the first aspect with our doctors: we both suffer from various forms of adult ADHD and depression.  The second is money--cash will be tight for her family and for me, and my sister lives in a very small basement-level apartment with low windows in an isolated complex.  We know that after the first three weeks or so, we will be experiencing massive cabin fever.  But how can we find things to do during the day for brief (maybe an hour and a half) outings that are a) free or cheap, and b) safe to take a small baby to?  We are confident that we can both manage the depression aspect--she is very comfortable discussing her fears about postpartum depression with her doctor and developing coping strategies, but we think we're going to drive each other bonkers sitting around the house all day.  If any of your readers have suggestions for national programs that would provide a reason to leave the house for a short period of time, or if any of them are from the Portland, ME area and have suggestions specific to the city.  I have no children of my own, so please feel free to tell me if the baby is just too young for quick trips out of the house in such chilly weather!"

I think you two are in great shape, and your being there will be the best thing that can happen to her. I say that because the number one factor in developing postpartum depression is lack of support. I think the researchers think that means that you're not getting any emotional support from your partner and family and friends, but I think it also just means being physically isolated. Talking on the phone and being on the internet are wonderful things that have probably prevented PPD for some women, but there's really nothing like being able to carry on a real-life conversation with another adult who's in the same room you are.

I wouldn't necessarily worry about the ADHD, since young babies do things in such short spurts anyway that it may actually be an asset! By the time you found the remote control to watch that 2-hour DVD, the baby would need to be fed again and you'd have another load of laundry to throw in. (I'm not trying to be facetious, but you really don't need to have any attention span to tend a young baby. And any attention span you do have will atrophy in those first few months anyway.)

My first couple of suggestion are pretty winter-specific and location-independent. You can always go out and walk around at the mall (assuming the baby's born full-term and doesn't have any respiratory issues). Your sister should wear him close to her body and not let anyone else touch him, poke at him, cough on him, etc. That's why you should go to m place like the mall with plenty of room so you're not all packed in together.

My other suggestions are your local bookstores and coffee shops. They tend to be gathering places for moms and caregivers and little kids, and you can sit and pretend to be adults for an hour or so while the baby sleeps on one of you. If your sister is nursing, they tend to be pretty safe places to nurse without worrying about the coats and diaper bags and stuff so that she can get him latched on without flashing the whole place, and if she does flash a little inadvertently, people tend not to notice.

I know someone out three's got to have Portland, ME-specific suggestions. Anyone with those, and also other winter-based ideas?