A blog by Dr Lin Day



GUEST POST - From massage to music – how we became baby group pros! By guest blogger Natasha Al-Atassi

As soon as I clocked off work for my maternity leave, I began to look forward to the groups I could attend with my soon-to-be-born baby. I loved the idea of leisurely carrying him/her in their car seat to and from baby massage, baby yoga, fitness and music lessons, smiling in the knowledge that their mind was expanding as they absorbed all these fantastic interactive classes.

But I didn’t quite appreciate that sometimes – especially at the beginning – it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

In fact, only a few days after becoming a mum, I realised baby groups may be a long way off, as even just leaving the house seemed tantamount to climbing the Himalayas!

 

Our first group – Finally getting out and about

Admittedly, Moo* was only three weeks old when I took her to her first baby group. In hindsight, I can see she was still only a little dot, but at the time I felt I had endured 21 days of being relatively housebound and I was itching for people to see and things to do.

I know what you’re thinking though, what can a baby really learn at three weeks old? Well, our first group together was baby massage, a free class run by our local Sure Start Centre. So really it was an opportunity for me to pick up skills, not my little angel who spent most of the course feeding or crying if I took her clothes off.

At the beginning, I was really conscious that I barely did much massaging during our sessions as Moo was always tucked under my top, but I came to realise that none of that mattered. I really came to see new faces, talk to people, complain about colic, and have a structure to my day.

It didn’t matter that Moo sometimes stayed asleep in her car seat, or started scrambling off as soon as she could roll over. What was important was that I was building strong friendships already, seeing other mothers during the difficult early days.

That’s one of the greatest rewards of baby groups – being able to support and gain support from other mums when you need it.

That and learning how to help your baby bring up wind, of course!

 

Next steps – Finding the right class

Once I became confident going to classes alone, I decided to try a few different ones – outdoor fitness sessions (admittedly more for me), sling dancing, music, swimming, baby gymnastics. You name it, we tried it!

But it took a while before we settled on the right ones for us. I soon discovered that it’s not just about whether you and your child like the class, it’s also about which ones fit into your routine.

So many were at the wrong time, too far away so she’d be sleeping on the way back (which was a good or bad thing depending on how many naps she was having), too expensive, or meant you had to wrestle with the car seat too many times in one day – something that often clinched the deal.

Also, I didn’t quite appreciate in my dreamy carefree days of maternity leave that our needs would change over the months. So if a class was at the right time in June, come August when Moo had dropped a nap and was weaning, it’d fall at the worst possible point during the day.

When this happened, I just learned to roll with it and enjoy the groups that did fit in with us. It wasn’t until my baby girl was about six/seven months old and was on a steady two naps and three meals a day that we had a good routine and could settle into classes for long stretches of time.

Although this meant we constantly had to change classes, we also got to make lots of friends, try many new things and find groups we both really loved!

 

Getting out of your comfort zone and making friends

The main reason for new mothers to come to groups is also one of the biggest things to turn them off – having to socialise.

I relished the opportunity to go out, see new faces, apply a bit of make-up (when possible!), and sometimes wipe away tears and put my ‘brave face’ on just to make me feel a bit stronger.

But I also had those days when I didn’t want to talk to strangers or pretend I’d had a stress-free morning, and I was only there because it was easier to have someone else sing to Moo for an hour than me having to do it… again.

Despite the fact it can be difficult to put your exhaustion to one side and cheerfully talk to people you don’t know, it’s well worth it. You soon realise you’re in the same boat – which for first-time mums is such a relief – and even laughing about some of the more stressful moments can make you feel better.

 

Now a toddler group pro

All in all, I achieved what I intended to with our baby groups. We tried a lot, disliked a few and settled on a handful we love, so much so that we still go to them now Moo is a fully-fledged toddler!

But best of all, I’ve made some fabulous friends who don’t care if I’ve got traces of dry shampoo in my dark brown hair, sick on my shoulder, or a toddler who’s trying my patience, simply because they’ve been there since the very beginning of my baby’s life.

And that’s something you won’t be able to say about a lot of people.

 


Loading