Today I attended what I believe was the first Belfast 'nappucino' in Belfast City Hall, and had a great morning courtesy of Cloth Nappy Library NI. Luckily, they have decided to make this meet up a regular thing, at the end of each month. I was thrilled to hear that, and can now add this monthly meet to my list of mummy and baby activities that Isabelle and I partake in.
(Nappucino: a get together of people who use cloth nappies)
I am not an organised activity kind of girl. When I was younger, I detested any groups my parents tried to send me to. Brownies - not for me. Sunday School outings - dreaded them. For some reason, I just have a 'thing' against people who have not really much in common being thrown together and expected to have a good time.
Despite what most people would believe, I am actually quite shy, so the thought of going somewhere where I know NOBODY and trying to integrate myself makes me come out in a cold sweat. But, I knew that when Isabelle came along I would have to make an effort to go to some mum and baby groups. I knew it was important for us both - for Isabelle to become better socialised amongst adults and other children, and for me to get out of the house and have people to chat to. I also wanted to make some new 'mummy' friends - people who are at the same stage of life as I am, and who understand the life I now lead as a mother. Isabelle arrived, and after four weeks I knew it was time to start getting out and about to some new groups.
And I am so glad I did! I mentioned in my last post the breastfeeding group I attend each week. This was my first venture. My sister-in-law (Her again! In case you can't tell she is my "go to" on all things baby related!) had enjoyed her breastfeeding group, so I knew this would be a good place for us to start. I arrived the first day with that 'clenched' feeling in my stomach. What if nobody spoke to me? What if everyone HATED me? Luckily, that could not have been further from the truth. The other mums at the group were warm and welcoming, and they were so easy to chat to about everything baby related. As most of the women at the group have babies under 6 months, we are all very much in the same boat and have lots of tips, tricks and sympathy to share around.
It was from this group that I actually learnt about Baby Sensory. A mum on Facebook had posted pictures of her and her little boy at Baby Sensory, and then it was mentioned at the breastfeeding group. Baby Sensory classes are designed to help you baby develop their different senses, and provide them with different experiences to aid their overall development and communication. After checking out the website, I decided to go along to a class nearby. Cue the dreaded "clenched stomach" feeling once more. But again...no need to worry. Everyone was warm and welcoming. This time however, the focus was really on the babies rather than us mummies, and I loved watching Isabelle take in all the new sights and sounds. I signed up for 10 classes, and know that I will extend this when the 10 are up. I love how these classes challenge and extend Isabelle mentally, and give her a range of experiences I may not be able to provide her myself.
Baby sensory classes are run around the UK, and I take classes run by Baby Sensory Belfast.
|Isabelle enjoying "Colours" week at Baby Sensory|
As we ventured to these groups, I found out one thing right away - I'm no longer heading out alone. Even if nobody else talks to me, I have Isabelle to chat to and fuss over instead. As strange as that sounds, it's really eased my fear of going to new groups and being the 'new girl', as I no longer feel like I'm facing things by myself. My little buddy is right there with me the whole time.
If breastfeeding, nappucinos or baby sensory aren't for you, there are lots of different classes run all around the country. Popular choices include baby yoga and baby massage classes, which are both geared towards relaxation of you and your baby. Swimming classes are increasingly popular and run in most local pools. And then there are the traditional Mums and Tots which are found in church halls and community centres nationwide. A top tip is to check out Facebook pages. I've found that these are more frequently updated than websites now, and much information on websites is out of date. And one Facebook group will easily lead to something else in your area as well.
I've found it great to attend groups which are based on the type of parenting I believe in. Both the breastfeeding group and the nappucino have been based around two parenting styles in which I am a very strong believer. This means that it's likely to be similar minded people I meet up with, so we'll always have lots to chat about.
So, if you haven't given any mum and baby groups a go, try to find something that you think suits you. Try it out once and, like me, you might just find that you love it and can't wait to for the next week to roll around to see your new friends and their babies again. Next up on our list: Rhythm and Rhyme at our local library. Better get my tambourine out...