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early childhood education

Maternity Leave can be a Lonely Ass Place

Maternity can be a very lonely place. You’ve finished work for Maternity Leave, the place you go to everyday of the week and the place you most likely speak to the most people during the day.

Then suddenly your at home with no one, not doing any of the daily activities you are used to. And possibly can’t due to the size of the not so tiny human growing inside you.

Everyone else’s life’s continue on around you and you and little one get pushed from your old life and the life you know, and into a whole new world.

There’s the new life where you have no idea what to do. You have a newborn baby and no clue what to do, then there’s which baby class do I go to, when should baby be weighed, should we be doing more tummy time or sensory play…….

The first couple of weeks living in a new born bubble with your partner at home if they have taken paternity leave can be great. Your both there to deal with whatever’s going on and getting to grips with everything this new baby throws at you (literally!).

But then paternity leave comes to an end and your pretty much going it alone. It’s just you and Little One with no adult conversation at all. Sometimes just going to the shop can be nice just to say “hello” to the cashier and know that they understand you!

In comes baby groups / classes, there are mums that are in exactly the same situation as you. Just knowing that your not the only one sat up alone at night feeding baby for the 4th time as their going through sleep regression.

But sometimes you don’t have the energy after being up 5 times in the night to go out,and those long days in the house just the 2 of you with a mountain of chores building up can be tough.

Scrolling through social media and seeing what other parents are doing can have a negative impact on our mental health. Feeling guilty that we aren’t doing enough. Then forgetting to reply to every message that comes through as something else needs doing at the same time.

There are somethings that can help:

  • Going to baby group (face to face or online)
  • Having routine to the day
  • Having the other half do a specific baby task during the day so you can have 5 minutes to yourself
  • Having a chat whether that be a socially distanced walk or just a phone call with someone everyday so it’s not just you and the baby talk
  • Sometimes just getting out the house and going for a walk can really help as it takes you away from being trapped indoors and is really freeing for the mind.

Doing it all in the middle of a global pandemic can be really difficult as well! Hats off to all your newborn mummies (and daddies) as it has really not been easy on any of us!

early childhood education

How 2020 Changed Parenting…

2020 was probably the strangest year in and out of parenting. We were locked down and separated from our loved ones. Partners were furloughed or worked to the bone. In some ways it was nice to be able to spend so much uninterrupted time with our Little Ones playing and bonding, but in so many ways our Little Ones worlds changed beyond belief.

I’ve been reflecting over the past year and thinking how things have changed for us.

Support or any classes were given online instead of face to face

I had to cancel classes that I had planned to run. The classes that I attend with my Little One were cancelled. Our whole schedule was rearranged over night and having to tell those new mummies that we couldn’t do our classes was heartbreaking. I love taking my Little One to groups so she can mix with other children and have lots of new experiences with me, so having to tell someone that they couldn’t come to my classes as I have had to cancel them, was devastating. It’s lucky we had Zoom to keep some kind of adult contact.

Many classes have closed

Unfortunately, some classes have had to close as they just couldn’t make it work so some parents in some areas are missing out on learning new skills and meeting other likeminded people in their area.

The support network has changed

They say it take a village to raise a child, but during lockdown it was just one or maybe two parents. Gone were the 5 minutes of peace where you could sit and have a cuppa while Grandparents played and kept Little One entertained. It was all video and phone calls that kept us in contact with the outside world. For any parent that just needs to speak to another adult this can be difficult as having a face to face conversation is always easier, especially if your Little One is climbing up and trying to get the phone off you. You couldn’t even pop in and see the Health Visitor as normal, and you had to phone and have a telephone appointment or eventually get to see them.

Some babies didn’t meet their grandparents straightaway or didn’t have grandparents for months on end

Cuddles and kisses are off limits (but you try not to tell your children too many times to stay away for fear of them not going back to normal). Older children may have understood a bit more but toddlers had no idea what was happening and babies missed out on the extra cuddles. Then things got even more trickier when we could start to see members from outside our household again, as children don’t understand social distancing.

Children have spent more time with parents (lots of quality time but sometimes too much)

Yes, it was lovely to spend so much time without rushing round, going here, there and everywhere with out Little Ones. We actually just played for a change. But sometimes it all got too much and 10 minutes away from each other was much needed. If you were like me, and your partner worked all the way through every lockdown, you are the one at home entertaining the children, it was sometimes a struggle. It can be hard work to entertain a child for months on end no matter what their age is. Our pushchair definitely repacked up some miles this year! All we needed at some points was (and to quote a favourite book in our house) 5 minutes peace!

It was the same for the children. My Little One couldn’t wait to see Daddy when he got home from work. Humans of any age need multiple interaction and stimulation. But I also found routine helped Little One and every afternoon we would go a walk on a nice little route I had found. Along the way we would find the horses or chickens on the allotments and this gave Little One something to look forward to.

Lots of people are now struggling with mental health issues

I heard recently that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic there is now a Mental Healthcare crisis and really this isn’t surprising. Whether you had children or not it’s been a tough time. All of us are used to mixing with different people in one way or another and even the quietest among us need interaction and conversation. Also having so much time on our hands gives us to much time to think sometimes and has maybe brought out worries or troubles from the past that people now need to start processing.

If you are feeling like you need any support or to talk to someone there are some amazing charities out there, such as Mind and Samaritans.

Or pop and see your GP as they can sometimes refer you or point you in the right direction.

Children have missed out on having fun with their friends

Children are even more social than adults and when you take away, school, nursery and parks they really miss other children and interaction with them.

The basic skills of friendship are formed during our early years, playing and exploring together, and the older we get the more we remember who these people are. Even at 2 my Little One remembers her little friends and tells us she wants to see them or her grandparents.

Masks how well children have adapted

I was thinking yesterday how well children have adapted to seeing us all now wearing face coverings. My 2 year old will remind you before you go into a shop to pop your mask on, even though she doesn’t wear one and the other day we were playing “shops” and I had to wear one in my own house as she wouldn’t serve me!

Obviously we have had times were Little One really doesn’t want us to wear our masks but we have just explained carefully that it is to keep us all safe.

The only worry I have with this is with Little Ones learning to read facial expressions and how the longer this carries on the harder it will become. A lot can be said for the look on someone’s face, and as the saying goes “if my mouth doesn’t say it, my face will”.

How have things changed in your parenting world?

early childhood education

Massage for the growing Child

A quick photo of my little one having a foot massage just become nap time.

As our babies start to grow they will most likely become less inclined to just lay down on the mat, lie nice and still and let their parents massage. However, the benefits of positive touch don’t stop just because babies a little by older. Oxytocin will still be produced and we can still help with any of those tummy aches and pains. In fact all of the benefits to massage are still there.

This is now where we either need to have it slotted into our routine so little knows what is coming next or start making it more fun for little one.

If we were making it part of our routine, it maybe best to start this early in your little ones life. I have heard a lot of parents that fit Baby Massage into the bedtime routine after a bath.

But if your little one is like mine, after a bath she was always starving hungry (even if she had milk/food before), you could try working it into your morning routine if you have time or during a late afternoon / evening nappy change.

The massage routine doesn’t have to be long and you don’t always have to do the full routine. If you find there are some massage strokes that little one just isn’t in to, then leave them out or maybe do 1 area of the body each time you massage to bring something ‘new’ to little one.

Making the massage routine more fun can be a little bit tricker.

But we can sing lots of songs, as there are lots of nursery rhymes that can be used with our massage routine.

Go with Little Ones lead. If they roll over to back or front change your approach and massage the area that has now become accessible. Most of the massage strokes we teach on our courses can be done with little one sitting up.

Get the family involved. If it’s usually the same parent that does the massage, change over and have the other parent massage. Baby will then like the change of parent and benefit from the extra bonding with both.

Include sensory toys and make it a sensory massage session. Something extra to keep little one more interested and a massage at the same time. Something as simple as a sensory scarf or a light projector on the ceiling will work.

Change the time you do the massage. You can add massage into your routine to suit everyone.

Have you got any other ideas or things you do with your growing children?

early childhood education

Separation Anxiety

Sitting here after the longest, busiest week ever and also the week where I have spent the most time away from my Little One since before lockdown started, and i’ve realised that I miss her and she misses me.

Separation anxiety is real for children and parents. I hate leaving my Little One even though I was working, and she was with family.

My Little One has never stayed with anyone without me being there other than family, and by family, I only mean Grandparents or her Daddy. Even still I feel like I panic every time it comes to leave. I fuss over everything and explain about 1000 times that everything she needs is in her changing bag and what her routine is, even though everyone knows this by now.

It’s been a big week this week though as we have pretty much spent every waking moment together since March. We know each other’s routines and moods, and i can usually tell exactly what she wants if she can’t find the words.

Yesterday, me and Little One were separated for about 1 hour but when she came back and said “missed mum” I thought that’s it, no more working or phone until after your in bed and we’ve having playtime all afternoon. We both really enjoyed it after having such a busy week.

I think sometimes Separation Anxiety affects us parents more than the kids 99% of the time, but there are some ways in which can help:

💟Start with short little absences – This will help you and Little One understand that it’s time or ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’ to go now and by only going for a short while, you know you’ll be back soon and Little One can start understanding that your not going forever.

💟Start by leaving Little One with someone you know and feel comfortable with – If you leave Little One with a Grandparent or Best Friend to start with it might help you get used to the thought of leaving them when less familiar surroundings are needed.

💟Have a couple of trial sessions when you haven’t got to go to work and be unavailable (have a quiet coffee, do the cleaning without children running round) – Therefore if anything does happen and Little One really does need you, you can do pickup a little earlier.

💟Have something familiar with you and Little One – Maybe leave a soft toy with Little One that you brought (your always with them then) and if your at work maybe have the same small soft toy or a picture of them on your desk. I have a small passport sized baby photo of my Little One in the back of my phone case (yes, she’s my screensaver but there’s nothing like having an actual picture).

💟If your Little One is that little bit older and understands what is going on sit down and explain, that you have to go to work and you are going to pick them up later. Also if you drop into your everyday conversation that they will be going to Nanny’s or big school soon, they will get used to the idea and may even be excited when the time comes.

💟I have also seen some people draw a tiny heart or star on their hand and Little Ones hand, that way whenever Little One looks they feel a little comfort.

I hope by you seeing my story and some of the ways that I have found that help and relieve some of that anxiety, it can help you now or in the future.

early childhood education

Baby Milestones

While I’m sat here surrounded by birthday decorations and presents on the eve on my little ones 2nd birthday, it got me thinking about how hard Childrens milestones are for parents.

“2 tomorrow” I’m sat here thinking where have those 2 years gone and where is my little baby I brought home from the hospital. Stay little just that little bit longer.

With every milestone whether it be sitting up, rolling over, walking or talking your baby seems to get that little bit more grown up, but what does that do to us mums and dads.

Personally it makes me want my little baby back on arms where nothing and no one can hurt them. I’m all they need. I want my baby to develop and grow don’t get me wrong, but does time have to fly by so quickly.

It only seems like yesterday we were walking out of the hospital with our Little One tucked in her car seat, all of us nervous as hell as to what was in store for us.

That first night at home, we popped out Little One in her Moses Basket in the living room and just stared at her in awe, we couldn’t believe we could bring this Little Girl home and she was all ours!

Then Little One starts holding her head up, smiling, sitting up, even a little grab for a toy we held all broke my heart that our tiny little baby was growing up and quickly. Everyday I am amazed and heart broken by how much she’s changing and learning all the time.

But then on the other hand you start worrying that Little One isn’t developing properly. Should Little One be sitting or rolling by now? Are they happy, should they be smiling?

All babies are different they develop at different stages! I was worried as my Little One still hadn’t smiled for our 6 week check, but then the Health Visitor said as her reflux was terrible she probably didn’t have a lot to smile about. At the time I brushed this comment off and thought nothing off it and agreed, but sitting her 2 years later, I also remember thinking “why isn’t Little One happy, am I doing enough for her?” For some parents this would have been a real low comment to make from the Health Visitor.

All babies are different and will develop onto the next stage when they are ready and when they want to. We can encourage them and support them, but they are in control!

It’s a constant battle between worrying, excitement and fear of missing out!

Parents take that extra moment to watch them play, peep round the door when they are sleeping and just admire every moment we can spend with your Little One.

The housework can wait, the phone can wait.. your Little One growing up won’t wait.

Saviour all of those little moments with your babies, you never know when you’ll be sat there wondering where your baby has gone! Just always remember your not alone with these feelings!

early childhood education

What happens in a Toddler Yoga class…..

Ever wondered what happens during a Toddler Yoga class? Or what Toddler Yoga is?

I’ve broken down my class format to help explain and for you to understand what is involved.

I normally arrive at the venue around 20 minutes before the session starts to ensure that everything is setup in the room and to ensure that the room temperature feels right. If I was doing the class online, I normally panic put my little one to sleep and take over her playroom to setup for the session. An online session looks like the below:

Due to COVID-19 haven’t managed to complete a face to face class yet, but i am hoping in the near future that this will change!

Everyone feels included in my sessions as I do encourage parents to join in and support / encourage their child.

The classes are really relaxed and toddler let. If your child needs anything during the session, please feel free to take them to one side and help them.

Please talk to me prior to the sessions if your child has any vaccinations coming soon.

There is lots of singing during the session and we learn about different breathing techniques.

The class structure usually follows:

  • Health form completed before joining the session
  • Welcome / Introduction / Health & Safety points
  • Welcome song
  • Warm up for toddler and parents
  • Stretching and waking up our bodies
  • Story or theme walkthrough with yoga poses
  • Sensory play
  • Relaxation & settling down

To allow your child to feel more comfortable, I do encourage parents to join in with the complete session. The theme will be different every week, but the structure of the session will be the same.

The yoga poses will start to become familiar over the course of a term.

early childhood education

Setting the Scene at Home

If you wanted to do Baby Massage or Baby Yoga at home, what would that look like. We want to make a nice cosy environment for you and baby and to ensure that baby feels safe.

First you want to make to sure room is warm enough for baby to be undressed. You can usually gage this, by seeing if the room is warm enough for you to sit comfortably in a short sleeved top.

Then we want a nice soft area for baby to lay down. You could use a nice soft blanket or a changing mat on the floor.

If the room is darker or it’s part of your bedtime routine, you make want some soothing lights for baby to look at.

As we want baby to feel as secure as possible while lying down on the mat, keep a hand in contact at all times and use their favourite toy to soothe them.

I have used:

  • Blanket – for baby to lay on
  • Light & Sound Polar Bear – soothing melodies and changing lights on the ceiling
  • Teething Toy – if baby was teething to help them
  • Soft toy – baby’s comforter
  • Sensory Scarf
  • Tummy Time Pillow – if you were doing Back Massage this could encourage Tummy Time for baby as well

Remember to always ask permission before starting your massage and only perform on a baby who is awake, alert and generally well.

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Benefits of Toddler Yoga

There are a number of benefits of Toddler Yoga for Children and Parents. As well as being encouraged to participate together and help each other.

Toddler Yoga benefits for Children
• Develops a feeling of being loved, respected and secure
• Can alleviate trapped wind and constipation
• Supports bonding and attachment
• May reduce tantrums
• Promotes positive toddler handling
• Works with toddlers natural movement
• Teaches positive loving touch and gentle movements
• Develops body, mind and awareness and coordination
• Helps to regulate and strengthen the digestive and respiratory system and stimulate the circulatory and nervous systems
• Promotes relaxation
• Improves quality of sleep
• Strengthens and tones muscles
• Builds a lifelong pattern for exercise
• Offers opportunity for socialisation in groups
• AIDS and supports development
• Encourages mindfulness
• Helps language development through songs and stories
• Boosts immunity
• Teaches routine and structure
• Encourages listening skills
• Encourages body awareness and coordination
• Increases confidence and self-esteem

Toddler Yoga benefits for Parents
• Excellent way of connecting with your child
• Gives parents practical tools for common aliments
• Can alleviate the effects of postnatal depression
• Helps parents to have a more positive interaction with their child
• Enhances parents confidence and competence in dealing with their child
• Helps parents communicate with their child
• Helps parents to understand their child’s cues
• Teaches positive loving touch and gentle movements
• Helps parents become aware of their child’s body
• Promotes relaxation
• Promotes nurturing instinct, through the stimulation of the hormone Oxytocin
• Improves the quality of sleep
• Offers opportunity for socialisation in groups
• Helps parents become aware of their developing child
• Encourages mindfulness
• Encourages parents to sing to their children
• Encourages parents to play with their children
• Introduces parents to yoga and movement