Being a mum is hard work and if you’re not careful you can get cabin fever and bogged down with nappy changes, teething and sleep deprivation. I think it’s great that nowadays there’s such a wealth of activities you can access and do with your child. Since Baby P was a few weeks old I’ve ventured out to various places and meet friends but also join in different groups and classes. I’ve made some great new mum friends as well developed stronger bonds with friends and acquaintances I already knew pre-baby.

I’ve had some groups I’ve regularly attended since little lady P was born, the first being my local NCT group I love this group, it’s held at my local church hall and is the chance for a warm cuppa and natter with like minded mums. Sometimes local business come and offer services/events such as pot painting and photography. There’s a great atmosphere at the this group and I’ve used it as a chance for Baby P to make friends, interacting with the other babies as really helped her development as well as provided me with the chance to informally get support and ideas on various different parenting techniques. There’s usually a breastfeeding support worker from the NCT at this group to help provide advice and support if needed. What I love the most about this group is that it’s a drop in session each week for only £2 so there’s no pressure to make it every week should anything crop up but as it’s inexpensive and regular, I’ve always got it there to wander down to should I find myself at a loose end. Plus, as Baby P grows up and I go back to work, we can still attend when I have time off int he school holidays as it has two rooms, one for babies and another for toddlers so we can grow up and keep in touch alongside the other members if we want to.

Another I’ve gone to since Miss P was young is the Sure Start Baby Play sessions ran by the local children’s services/centres. These run similarly to the other baby group I’ve mentioned, it’s a relaxed traditional drop in mum and baby group where you can mix with other parents whilst babies play with the toys and activities that they lay out. Once again staff and other mum’s are friendly and supportive and I’ve gained a wealth of informal advice as we’ve all shared tips, stories and sympathetic anecdotes about our mothering and parenting experiences. It’s also fun to go into the sensory room they set up and to watch little P’s face as she tries some of the finger foods they come round with and offer. This session ends with a good old group sing-a-long before we wander home and my little Pip-squeak falls asleep in the pram shattered after her fun-filled hour and a half. Again as she grows up we can progress onto the Let’s Play sessions they offer which also run in the school holidays for when I’m not at work.

Baby sensory was one of the first courses I booked onto with a good friend and her baby boy. She’d already done a term and highly recommend it. We had an absolute ball at this session. From superhero, Christmas, valentines and under the sea themed adventures, we sang, danced, played, read books and learnt some baby sign. This was more pricey than the other pound or two drop in sessions and you’ve to book on and commit to the course, however it was certainly worth every single penny and if you knew in advance that you weren’t able to make a session, the leader arranged with you to catch up by attending another on her timetable that week so you didn’t miss out. In fact, it was the leader’s warmth, creativity and enthusiasm that helped make this session so enjoyable and it certainly brought baby P’s development on in leaps and bounds! I highly recommend this course to any parents and babies out there.

The other day we tried messy play and boy was it messy! We had crushed up chocolate crispies/crumbs, soap foam, sand, paint, dry rice and plasticine to name but a few of the messy sensory experiences to play with and of course for my little madam to try and taste! We loved exploring this class and are definitely going to book onto the course after attending the trail drop in. The session is relaxed and you’re free to explore the activities at your own pace as the leader wanders around supporting all of you. Both her and the Baby Sensory leader were so welcoming and personable. She made the effort to come and talk to me and my friend as we messed and played, taking the time to get to know us and welcome us into the session. Messy Play also meant that whilst stimulating and allowing baby P to enjoy exploring new and exciting things, I didn’t have to clean up a big mess afterwards! Water, baby bath bubbles and tubs were provided so we could wash down afterwards and go home leaving the mess behind us! Again, although this is a course to sign up for a little more costly, it’s definitely more than worth the money you pay and you are able to take the 5 week course over 6 weeks so you are entitled to one catch up sessions should you have to miss one due to illness etc, which is always good to know when you have a little one! This isn’t just for babies either, you can send children up to the age of 5, so quite literally get stuck in and make a mess with your little one!

Once my little Popsicle reaches the age of 6 weeks we were able to attend baby Yoga. Two of my friends had gone with their little ones to the baby massage sessions this lady ran and suggested I joined them, however after attending for a couple of weeks I felt it wasn’t for us. As a dance teacher I’ve attended yoga a lot myself and do really enjoy it but this particular series of sessions was not for me. I can’t really put my finger on what it was, but the sessions just seemed a bit flat, samey samey and just not our cup of tea. This did surprise me as I do love a good yoga session but these baby yoga sessions seemed very far from what I’ve done before and just didn’t seem to engage me or baby. Unfortunately this course was just not for us but I’m glad we tried it, everything is always worth a go, it’s just a shame you had to sign up for the full 6 week course rather than try a drop in first like we were able to with Messy Play and Sensory.

A three week Reflexology course held at a local childminder’s was so useful. Although only 3 sessions, this very informative and helpful. I learnt foot massaging techniques to aid digestion, provide relief from reflux, colic or constipation. I was taught ways and areas of baby’s foot to sooth and calm her, aid sleep (YES! I still now do the obligatory air grab to this method) and boost immunity. I came away from this with a little goody bag of leaflets, information, holistic treats and toolkit of knowledge on how to help me get through some of the testing baby times! This was worth signing up for so that I have some go to strategies for when my cheeky monkey is unsettled.

Recently, I went to a new drop in group Soupermums! This quite literally is soup-er! Ran by volunteers of the church where the session is held, you turn up, have a good chin wag with the other mums, play and cuddle with your baby and enjoy the social time. High chairs are provided so you can feed your baby comfortably if you need too. Then the one thing that any stay at home parent or mum of a small baby needs once a while happens, you get a little break! If you wish every week the offer of lunch is there, the volunteers make soup, provide bread rolls and tea/coffee and cake but best of all they insist that you let them cuddle, play and watch over your little darlings whilst you have a short break to refuel. They even set the table ready for everyone so you can sit together and enjoy a precious few moments of a warm lunch without try to juggle your little one, grabbing it on the go in the midst of playing, nursing and it going cold as you eat one handily! These volunteers (who generally seem to be retired people) love the babies and are so warm and kind, they really welcome you into the group, take the time to get to know you and your baby, looking after them lovingly whilst you have lunch. The first time I felt guilty leaving my baby to be watched across the room from me by someone else but the lady cooing over a kicking, rolling and giggling Baby P wouldn’t take no for an answer and insisted I enjoy a short break and truth be told these volunteers adore looking after all the little ones even if it is only for a short time. They end the session by bring your baby over to you and having a lovely sing song and dance which Baby P is mesmerised by! There’s no cost to this session but donation bowls are left out in order to keep in running, then any left over money is donated to children’s charities and recently they donated it to one of the other mum’s who’s child has been diagnosed with medical issues and various equipment and treatment is needed to be paid for. Like I said, this group is soup-er and a feel good start to the week!

Baby P absolutely loves music and we’ve tried a couple of music sessions such as rhythm time and a singing/sign language class. My favourite has to be the Music Bugs class I found advertised and offered through children’s centre services. Again suitable until age 5, this session is 35minutes of noise! There’s singing, actions, props, percussion instruments, dancing and so much energy, you’d think we were all going to take off! It’s the perfect way to end a Wednesday morning and ensures baby P is ready for a good nap before lunch! This is a drop in session rather than a sign up course and just oozes fun, smiles and enthusiasm! Every kid gets a sticker at the end too, because who doesn’t love a sticker!?! I loved loved loved this baby class!

As you can tell, I’ve really grasped the opportunity to get out about during maternity leave and absorbed as many of the activities on offer for me and Baby P. They are so worth it though, they’ve got us out of the house, out and about making friends, bonding with each other and learning so many new things! Who doesn’t love a good baby group or class? It’s hard work being a mum but these things have helped me through the tough times and added to the fun of enjoying my daughter!

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