Mother and baby groups can conjure up a number of images.
Of course they can be great for babies development; learning lots of new skills and experiencing different surroundings. For mums it can be the chance to meet other like-minded folk with similar worries or aspirations, spark up some new friendships or at the very least, a way to stop going stir-crazy from staring at the same four walls for days on end.
However, they can also put the fear of god into someone like me, who although very sociable, can be painfully shy when it comes to meeting new people. Would I walk into a group to find a competitive coffee-drinking clique who would tut at my silly questions and obsess over our feeding and sleeping habits?
The Lazy Daisy Chain
E was only 6 weeks old when I attended the first group which was part of the Lazy Daisy franchise. (You may have heard of Lazy Daisy via One Born Every Minute or if you follow Tom from McFly’s wife, Giovanna Fletcher).
I’d heard that Baby Massage was good for babies with reflux (which E appeared to be suffering from at the time) and as none of the free classes were running locally I thought I’d bite the bullet and sign up for a paid class.
Most classes that you have to pay for aren’t cheap – which is why I’ve not attended many – unfortunately statutory maternity pay doesn’t really stretch that far! This one worked out around £6.50 per class for 5 weeks and each class lasted around 45 minutes – with time before and after to get settled, chat to the other mums or just sit with a cuppa and a biscuit (included in the price thankfully!)
The Lazy Daisy classes were nice and relaxed – and very much baby led so any feeding/crying/nappy changes could be dealt with, without feeling you were interrupting anything. The sessions included various songs/nursery rhymes to accompany the baby massage sections, and a little added exercise at the beginning for mum and a relaxation session at the end. It was all very gentle and natural and quite a calming way to spend an hour.
I didn’t go with the intention of making any new mum friends which is just as well as I didn’t! It was a very small group, and don’t get me wrong they were all lovely, but I could tell from the first week that there wasn’t going to be any lasting relationships made. Perhaps it was just new mum nerves but no one in the group seemed to click and we all went our separate ways at the end of the course.
Surestart Baby Massage
Several weeks later I attended another baby massage course which was more local to me and it couldn’t have been more different! This was a free course run by Surestart at our local children’s centre. (Check out what’s going on at your nearest children’s centre in case you’re missing out – some of our local ones are fantastic!)
This course was literally just about massage so the techniques were much more in depth than the Lazy Daisy course and I really enjoyed doing it. We were also given a booklet to take home, which included all the various positions/techniques so we could carry on doing it at home.
The mums who attended were all very different – from all walks of like but all very down to earth and very chatty. There were one or two who didn’t come back after week 1, however those of us who stayed all got on and it was nice to see them each week. At the end of the course, I stayed in touch with another mum, who in fact only lives around the corner from me and since then I have seen her and her little boy quite a few times. We’re a similar age and seem to have similar things in common and it’s been lovely to spend time with them. Not a bad result from a free baby group!
Baby Bounce and Rhyme
We’ve occasionally attended another group together at our local library – Baby Bounce and Rhyme. Basically half an hour of Nursery Rhymes and music suitable for singing to your little ones by bouncing them up and down on your knee. It’s also a free class that is run by the local authority – SMP stretches further when you can make the most of the freebies!
I don’t go to this every week, but E does love it. There’s songs which she loves that I’ve never ever heard of – but I’ve swiftly had to become an expert at them seeing as she enjoys them so much!
If you’re thinking of attending a group but aren’t sure I’d just say go for it! Certainly try out any free groups that get the chance to.
If you don’t like it, you don’t need to go back and you’ve not wasted any money. You might love it and it might become part of your weekly routine, and you may meet some lovely new friends. You’ll never know unless you try!
I don’t think groups are something that will become a regular part of our lives but having the opportunity to try them out has been great – and I now know where they are if I ever just need to get out and do something a bit different.