For many of our Tots Play families, 2018 was a year to remember - the year they welcomed a new little member of their family into the world. Whether you had a January or December baby, or your little one has already passed their first birthday, I know you will be distinctly aware of how fast time moves and how quickly children grow up. For this reason, we need to savour every moment we can with them; it won’t be long before those neck nuzzles and open-mouthed kisses are a distant memory.
Today we explore 3 ways you can enjoy the journey of parenthood in the year ahead and create treasured memories that will last longer than 365 days.
1) Be present
Moments come and moments go. As parents, our to-do list seems endless and it can feel like an on-going challenge to keep everything ticking over. There are also a lot of things that could potentially make us feel anxious: our baby’s health; sleep patterns; nutrition; the news; money; judgemental looks from strangers in the super market…
How much time and energy you put into worrying about these things is your choice. What we focus on becomes a bigger issue in our mind so try to keep your attention to the things that bring you happiness and joy.
It can be difficult, but one way to break through the new parent anxiety is to actually take some time to practice being in the present moment. When you are alone or with your baby, just stop for a few minutes and be aware of your surroundings.
Feel the cool air of your breath as it goes into your body and the warm air as it leaves.
Notice any sounds around.
What can you see? Look at your child (if they are there) and pay attention to every small detail.
Feel your feet on the floor, grounding you.
This process is proven to reduce stress levels if done every day; it stops the mind’s narrative and just allows you to be in the present moment.
There are many moments to look forward to in 2019, don’t let them pass you and your baby by.
2) Be grateful
Actively practising gratitude is proven to be one of the most effective ways to live a happier life. The more you take notice of what is good in your life, the more good you will find. As parents, one of the biggest challenges we face is sleepless nights. Lack of sleep affects the mind and body and makes it harder to appreciate this magical time as you struggle just to keep your eyes open.
Although tiredness might be a very real challenge, it does not mean it has to stop you feeling grateful, even if at times you are just grateful for an hour’s kip!
The key to any real change you make in your life is to find a practice, routine or ritual that you can do consistently for years to come. Some popular gratitude practices include:
Morning gratitude - as you begin your day, brushing your teeth or showering, spend some time feeling grateful for the day before or the day ahead.
Evening gratitude - just like with the morning, find part of your routine you already do daily and use this time to think about what you are grateful for. This could be taking your make-up off or getting undressed. The success of these practices revolves around making it routine.
Gratitude journal - some people find writing itself really therapeutic; a gratitude journal can be filled out daily or weekly and will give you the opportunity to reflect on your blessings regularly.
Gratitude friend- find a friend who will enjoy getting positive messages every day and who is keen on improving their own happiness levels too. Make a commitment to message each other daily or weekly to share what you are grateful for.
Even on those bad days, there will always be something to be grateful for. It may just be a simple baby smile or a cup of tea drunk hot, but these are the little things that, when added together, make life great!
3) Go to a baby class
There are many reasons to head to a baby class in 2019, but one of the key benefits (leading to lots of others!) is that it gets you out the house. When there is washing-up to do, toys to tidy and dinner to make, it can be hard to focus on just the two of you. At a class, you can focus completely on your baby and enjoy the structured time together, promoting the bond between you.
Going to a baby class also gives you the chance to make friends who understand exactly what you are going through. Many classes are designed for children of a particular age, so your children will be going through the same phases at a similar time and you get to experience the journey together, and realise that most of the challenges you are facing are completely normal.
Often the friends you make at those baby classes become so solid that they last longer than the class itself, and form a wonderful support system for you as you go through your parenting journeys.
Another benefit to baby classes, which you may not find at traditional parent and toddler groups, is that because of the structure of the session there is no need to feel shy or worry about any awkwardness if you don’t know anyone there to start with. The class activities are a distraction and give you something to focus on instead of just chit chat. Real friendships have the opportunity to blossom in this environment.
Classes also provide the opportunity for you and your baby to learn new skills together. Whether it is music, sensory play, baby massage, baby yoga or baby sign language, all have their own benefits, plus the extra benefit of spending time together and having the opportunity to bond.
Wondering which class to choose?
Perhaps you like the sound of all the activities we have talked about, and are wondering which to choose. A Music Class? Yoga? Massage? Physical Play? Baby Sign Language? Sensory Play?
With Tots Play, there is no need to choose: you and your baby or toddler can enjoy all these experiences and more in one programme.
All our activities, and our wide variety of brightly coloured, age appropriate equipment, are chosen for their contribution to the development of a whole range of skills and abilities for each child as they grow from tiny baby to busy toddler, and to provide a bright, fun and loving environment where you can spend special time playing, laughing, learning and enjoying being with your little one, while sharing in their amazing achievements.
Many of the activities you learn can be replicated at home too, helping you make the most of every moment you spend together.
Every Moment Counts
Just think where you and your baby will be this time next year: how much bigger will they be? What skills would they have learnt? What will they be saying? Who will they be? Your baby and your year is like a blank canvas at the moment - fill it with magic!
Find a Class
To find a Tots Play class near you, click HERE, and get in touch with your local class leader to book a place.
A New Start
Perhaps becoming a parent and the start of a new year has made you think about making some other changes in your life. If you are looking for an opportunity to work around your family, doing something fun and rewarding that you can build into a great new career, then our franchise programme could be just what you are looking for. Find out more about starting your own business bringing the Tots Play programme to families near you HERE, and fill that blank canvas with a brand new start for you too!
Happy playing and a very happy new year!
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