Mind blown with bubble wrap.
It took a little time but having a baby has opened up a whole new universe of friends to me. I didn't do National Childbirth Trust (NCT) classes, where many new parents meet each other, because we couldn't afford it and at first I thought I'd made a big mistake. At the end of Frankie's first 8 weeks of life, after the visitors had left and the cards stopped coming, after my mister got busy with work, and Frankie-Rose started to settle in to a routine, I started to feel a wee bit lonely. Shortly after this, we joined baby swimming classes and I forced myself to be brave and ask other mums if they wanted to meet for coffee and it sort of spiraled from there; I've met friends of friends of friends, their families, their NCT groups, yoga groups etc. This is one of the many reasons that having a baby in London is brilliant, I think. Just a tiny bit of effort and I find myself in the midst of a group of new friends.
When Frankie-Rose was still tiny, I met some other mums who wanted to organise a group focussed on sensory activities for our babies. Word spread and after a flurry of emails, 12 of us found ourselves organising a weekly baby group that we each take turns to host. The host chooses the theme each week and organises a few baby activities, and everyone turns up with biscuits and cake.
Here are some pics of our little group over the last year. (Not all of these photo's are mine)
Playing with silk scarves
A ball pit!
Sensory bottles (water, food colouring, olive oil and glitter, I think)
Bubbles! Lots of bubbles.
Crinkling tissue paper. (also sporting a bib I made)
Some potato printed goodies- this was more fun for the mum's I think!
Salt Dough hand prints
Crappy instagram pic of my 'space snakes' (spaghetti and strips of plastic bags plus blue food dye) and 'radioactive space swamp'! (glittery red jelly)
Our little baby group has become one of the highlights of my week and I have loved everyone's creativity. The babies have ridden a submarine under the sea, taken a musical trip to animal farm, and enjoyed a metaphorical trip around London to the rhythm of an amazing made up song. We have brandished flags in celebration of Albanian independence and covered the floor in food. We've waved silk scarves over the babies heads, acted out stories for them, bounced them along to lots of different music, bent and stretched their tiny limbs in yoga moves, sang Geordie folk songs to them and taken them on a 'bear hunt'.
One afternoon, I filled an array of plastic tubs with jelly and cold spaghetti and plastic bags, and ceremoniously named one tub Space Snakes and another Space Swamp. The babies plunged their hands and feet into the gelatinous, e-number coloured goo with glee. Another day we let the babies loose on a basement filled with musical instruments, including a full sized drum kit.
The group tends to last for hours, with everyone enjoying a good excuse to chew each others ears off about baby stuff, politics, partners and life in general.
The same group has just set up a babysitting time bank too, whereby at least two people go to your house and look after your baby for between 2-3 hours to give you time to do something on your own. It's heavenly. You give two sessions to receive one and everyone is loving it so far. If you're in a similar group and are in need of a bit of a break- suggest this! It's great!
What do you think? Are you part of a baby group or 3? Would you consider starting your own? Did you find it easy to meet other people?