Hartbeeps Mother and Baby Classes

So rather than new year, new me, I started 2018 focusing on all the new great things baby M could, should and would hopefully do in his first year of life (see 2018: A Year of Firsts). One of the main things I wanted baby M to experience was play and interaction with other babies, which is where Hartbeeps comes in.

I’d been looking at various classes, including the council baby massage and yoga classes which ultimately book out in about 5 seconds flat (where are these parents that are so bloody organised?!) So decided to see what else was on offer in our area. Hartbeeps immediately caught my attention as it focuses on baby play and letting them learn and explore at their own pace. Whilst other classes also offer this, it felt a bit different from the yoga and massage which focus on tested techniques with specific results – for example, some massage elements help digestion, breathing and so on, whilst some yoga moves help with the development of things like rolling, coordination and so on. So Hartbeeps essentially seemed like a break from all of that and a chance for baby M to have an hour to play with mum and a bunch of fun songs and toys to boot.

First impressions
Our first class was on 12th January and I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew there would be songs and bright colours but that was about it. Laura, the instructor, (or teacher? I’m not sure what the right term is!) was so friendly and welcoming right from the off. She explained the class was about mum and baby and not to worry about things like running late or sleeping babies. She also made it clear that this was a place for both mum and baby to forget about whatever else was going on that day or in general – no worries about laundry or groceries or visitors or anything. This class is designed as an escape for mum just as much as for baby.

What happens at class
Doesn’t necessarily stay at class. Parents are encouraged to continue play outside and sing the songs at home. Though part of the reason I signed up for Baby Bells is that it’s so easy not to play that way at home. Things like phonecalls and listen and cooking and all sorts distract us from getting completely lost in play. Also, I feel like I should always be doing something else. Play is most definitely vital for babies needs, growth and development but I was brought up to believe that play was what you did after all the other work/chores/school etc were finished. So I’m usually doing a load of washing or tidying up around baby M while we’ve got toys and playmats and all sorts out. I feel bad if I do and bad if I don’t!

Everything at Baby Bells was laid out and colourful, with mats arranged in a circle round the room. There are soft fleecy mats for baby to lie on and lovely circular ones for mum’s to plonk our bums on. In the centre of the room is the sparkly sunshine, containing a trove of baby fun underneath. With actual baby bells* and bubble machines and lights and feathers and much more, it’s hard to see how babies couldn’t get all their senses going at these classes.

*sleigh bells on a rattle

Baby benefits
Each class has it’s own theme, whether that be pirates and treasure or dinosaurs or anything in between. Songs and play then follow that theme. Basically each class is good for their imagination as no two weeks are the same. Some songs do get repeated (this is good for memory) but generally the set up remains the same with the journey different each time.

  • Songs are sung with actions which can include baby yoga or massage techniques, brilliant for development. There are familiar nursery rhymes like round and round the garden.
  • Dress up is one of my favourite parts not least because it provides a great photo opportunity. From sweatpants to frogs eyes and dinosaur tails, dress up accessories do wonders for the imagination and senses with new and different textures to touch
  • Tummy time each week over the big tummy ring, your lap or with a towel; however baby is comfiest. There are light-up toys, mirrors, shiny paper and different textures to discover
  • Quiet time at the end of class which involves putting out all the lights and having a lovely projected display, personal lights, bubbles and lullabies. This is perfect for calming baby after an exciting class and getting them ready for a nice long nap afterwards (thank you Hartbeeps!)

All in all, both Baby M and I absolutely loved Hartbeeps and now can’t wait for a Friday morning to go and play. All of the above benefits plus meeting other mums and babies makes for a happy wee boy and a happy mum going into the weekend. If there are Hartbeeps classes in your area I would strongly recommend giving them a go, particularly if you have someone like Laura taking the class.

 

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Returning to Exercise After Having a Baby

One thing I was really craving during pregnancy wasn’t food related, oddly. Towards the 8 month Mark, when I’d given up my exercise classes, I would have given anything to be able to do a sit up or a burpee. And I bloody hate burpees.

I was craving this and general exercise to the point where I would get quite down if I couldn’t so much as get out for a walk in a day. So my 6 week post-partum check up couldn’t come quick enough for me after baby M arrived.

Quite literally the next day I’d booked myself into an exercise class for that night. Having not been in 4 months, I was apprehensive as to how much my body had changed and was no longer capable of doing, so I decided to ease myself back in with Clubbercise.

Clubbercise is one of my favourite ways to exercise because It’s so much fun that it doesn’t feel like a chore of a workout. You get all the cardio alongside some basic toning, while raving to some top club tunes with glowsticks, whistles and UV lights.

First time back
My first class back was in mid November, and as suspected it was a bit more breathless than I’d been used to but overall it was a lot like I’d imagined it would be. Some of the routines were still lodged in my brain from months ago so that was helpful and reassuring.

One thing I was shocked to realise though is how much your pelvic floor exercises matter. If I hadn’t been squeezing those exercises in (No pun intended) where I could, there easily would have been a mess on the floor to contend with. This is especially true for Clubbercise as there’s a lot of jumping around and raving, and let’s just say I felt the pressure a couple of times on my first day back!

Diving in deep
After I’d done a couple of Clubbercise classes, my instructor announced she was running a new fitness class; Deep Hau2. Full of – you guessed it – deep house music, this workout focuses more on your core and toning, using interval training but at a much lower intensity than something like metafit. I was eager to get back to toning, not liking or wanting to get used to the sagging tummy I’d been left with post-pregnancy.

The only trouble is, this class takes place straight after Clubbercise. Not wanting to back out of my favourite night of the week, I’d signed up to both classes when Deep Hau2 started in mid-December. Oh dear Lord it hurt. Double and even triple classes back to back were a fun challenge pre-pregnancy, and something I felt confident doing even up to around 6 months pregnant. However after only 3 real attempts at working out, the combination of Deep Hau2 exercises (think planks, press ups and other stomach-killing moves) and extended period of workout left me defeated. I tried my best but realistically probably only did about 1.5 press ups and felt like I’d been assaulted the next day.

I love to push myself and know that it’s better to try and struggle than not to bother, but boy was that a reality check on my fitness levels. There’s no doubt about it my body has done some incredible things in the last 12 months but it will take a lot of work to get to the same level of fitness I had this time last year.

New year, new expectations

So going into 2018, I decided to take things a little more gradually. On Wednesday I returned to Clubbercise which was just the cardio boost needed to beat those winter blues. Today I had planned to return to Pound; another one of my favourites which uses weighted “Ripstix” (giant green drumsticks) to help you tone as you rock out to some fab tunes. However it seems the winter flu bug has struck and the class was cancelled. So instead I carted myself off to Piyo at 8.45am on a Saturday. Ordinarily an achievement in itself, exercising at that time on a Saturday doesn’t feel so early when you’ve been up since 6am.

Piyo is a combination of Pilates and Yoga (geddit?) which helps improve core strength, flexibilty and balance. As a bit of a Pilates virgin, I was keen to see what the fuss was about, not to mention try to get back some flexibility post-baby. It was interesting to see how much of my body could still actually bend and stretch, though a bit depressing to find out all the bits I couldn’t do. The most difficult bits were definitely the burpees and anything involving pulling myself up from downward dog/low lunging positions. But I’ll get there, as long as I keep going back and pushing myself that bit further each time.

Next up is Strong by Zumba, on Monday. Related to Zumba only in name so I’m told, this class is more high intensity training in time to the music. I’m not confident I’ll be able to do a whole lot, but I am confident I’ll give everything a try at the least. If there are no more posts after today, you’ll know it has defeated me!

2018: A Year of Firsts

Happy New Year! How did it get to 2018 already? In fairness, the last month has flown by in an unexpected rush, with Christmas and lack of laptop (and other things which I’ll get to later) taking most of the blame for lack of posting in December.

But, it’s a new year so to new beginnings and all that. Whilst I’m not exactly proclaiming any specific resolutions as such, I am preaching positivity and fairly excited for the year ahead. There’s a lot to look forward to, including many firsts to come.

2017 had its fair share of ups and downs, but also many firsts along the way, like having my first baby and all the wonderful firsts that come with the first few months of parenthood. Sure, first dirty nappy and first hospital trip weren’t exactly highlights, but they were necessary and all part of that new parent experience. However there’s still plenty to look forward to in 2018, both with baby M and without.

Here are the firsts that top the list:

First swim, massage and yoga
There are a wealth of great baby classes out there which both help baby’s development and allow mum’s to meet other parents. The most popular in my area are baby yoga, baby massage and baby swimming lessons. Due to baby M’s birthday falling at the beginning of October, he was unable to start any of these classes in 2017, as by the time he was old enough, everything was beginning to wind down for the festive season. I’m excited for him to experience these classes, in particular massage, as this is meant to be extremely useful for colicky babies. I’m also open to any other fun and useful classes that would help with baby’s development, stimulation and just generally to make him some baby friends!

First sleep in his cot
Due to some pretty unforseen circumstances, we haven’t been able to try baby M in his big boy cot bed yet, not even just for a trial. However, he’s growing at such a rapid rate, I can’t see him fitting in his moses basket much longer. By the end of January he should hopefully be sleeping in his cot bed, and finally getting to enjoy the mobile attached to it too!

First tooth
Already baby M is teething, with dribble and soaking mittens a constant factor of daily life. If those were the only symptoms of teething, I wouldn’t care if he didn’t cut his first tooth till 2019! Unfortunately his teething also comes with pain, meaning a routine of discomfort, bonjela and unexpected cries of pain in the middle of the night, which are, quite frankly, heart breaking. He’s too small for teething rings as they don’t quite fit in his mouth yet, so seeing his first tooth appear and knowing that’s the beginning of the end of his mouth pain will be a great moment.

First day back at work
Ok, so this first won’t officially happen till June, but I’m both excited and terrified of the prospect of it (much the same way I felt about labour and the anticipation of motherhood if I’m honest!) On the one hand I can’t wait to get stuck back in, catching up with colleagues, clients and cracking on with the workload. Yet on the other I’m worried I’ll have more separation anxiety that the wee one will! Hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in some KITT days, meaning I can ease back into the workplace in a less dramatic or stressful faahion.

First family trip
I’m not visualising Disneyland or anything yet. In fact, we haven’t even got anything planned. But I’d like to take a trip with the other half and baby M this year, even if it’s just for one or two days away at the other end of Scotland. Every time we leave the house it feels like we’re packing for a holiday anyway, so we might as well take a wee break before I make that proper return to work.

First family home
This one is more of an ideal world scenario rather than anything. At the moment we have a 2 bedroom flat, which is absolutely fine, but not what either myself or other half visualise when we picture “family home”. The flat itself was great for the first 2 years but you never know how un-family friendly your home is until you have kids! Clunky old external stairs make for less than fun pram time, complicated bathroom layouts make for difficult bath time for baby M and just generally we’ve found that there isn’t anywhere near enough storage space for all the stuff that comes with babies. So, if all goes to plan and we can both save and see somewhere we fall in love with (front and back doors with a kid-friendly yard are goals), then hopefully we will have our first proper family home.

Other exciting firsts I’m looking forward to are baby’s first steps, first words and first experience with food! Although I’m not looking forward to the first new nappies after the latter! Plus each child grows at their own pace so if my boy wants to be lazy, or doesn’t find anything worth talking about in 2018, I won’t sweat it.

Hope you all have a great year of firsts or new experiences too, however big or small!