Island life for the new mummy… part 2

An aspiring tiger mom myself I have my little lady at classes everyday and why not when the choice of classes is so phenomenal for such a small area.  There is everything from yoga to sign language to mandarin lessons for the babies of today. I have reviewed a few of my faves for you below.

IMG_2456Yogabellies is an institution on the island with just about every class you can think of. There is antenatal, mum and baby yoga, baby massage, yoga kids, yoga belles, monthly lunches and the occasional girls night out all run and organised by the fabulous Sharon. I first met Sharon last year when I was about 16 weeks pregnant and started off with her Friday night prenatal class. I never thought I would be giving up the ubiquitous after work drinks for the yoga mat, but I did and so happy I did too – even now, I miss the Friday night zen aura I had walking home from class. The mum and baby yoga is run on Friday afternoons in the Barkantine Center and is a gentle practice for you to enjoy with your little one. The class starts with a personal highlight sharing every week, which is great because sometimes you just need some advice, which always generously offered by Sharon and the other mums, we then have some singing and stretching for the babes and there are simple poses and sequences you could easily learn and repeat at home. Then there is mummy practice and we end with a calming mantra and affirmation. My little lady is always fast asleep after class and just as well as we always tend to go for post yoga coffee and cake, we are a social lot here on the island aren’t we. You will find yogabellies mums everywhere and everyone knows Sharon, we go for lunches monthly and nights out too, so it is way more than just the classes – it’s a mummy network!  You can contact Sharon at Yogabellies or check out her Facebook page.

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Sing and Sign is a great class and has been proven to advance speech development. The class is run across the borough by Sukie and she offers trials if you’re not quite sure if it’s for you. The class is a singing extravaganza and teaches your baby everyday useful signs to go along with popular nursery rhymes. I find myself singing the songs across the week to my little girls delight. And there’s a very cute postman pat-esque black and white cat called Jessie that my little lady tries to grab every week. Jessie even has his own FB page and is running the London Marathon this year too! My fabulous nearly 2-year-old niece started making actions when we would sing nursery rhymes to her, we all assumed it was something she had picked up in nursery but lo and behold she was actually signing every single step and had picked it all up from the sing and sign DVD that she would watch completely mesmerised. I’ve seen developments while in the class with my little lady, even at the initial taster at 4 months she started blowing raspberries and we nearly had her crawling in class last week, so it’s one class I really do recommend. The classes run on Tuesday mornings in a new gorgeous location in Burrell’s Wharf and you can contact Sukie for more info on her FB page she runs a number of classes throughout the week across the borough.

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Waterbabies is one of the more expensive classes available but also one of the best in my opinion. I absolutely love the water so want to make sure my little lady is more than comfortable poolside. Classes are held all across the country in hydrotherapy pools in schools, specialist facilities and even hotel swimming pools. The classes are roughly 30 minutes and start with a warm up, lots of jumping on your part, a few underwater moments and plenty of splashes. It is pretty daunting when you first have to dunk your baby in the water, it feels sort of unnatural but you soon see how easily they take to water – these babies are a lot braver than we think. My little lady can be screaming down the changing room but the minute her tootsies hit the warm water she is as happy as a cupcake. Lets not even get started on “splish, splash, splish, splash, around in a circle and up in the air” – that little mantra can calm her down even on dry land!! Swimming is great for your baby’s health and development, it stimulates heart, lung and brain development. A German study even found that swimming babies had advanced motor development, social skills and intelligence. I clearly recommend the classes and the facilities at George Green School near Island Gardens Station are fantastic, the pool room is warm and cosy and the babes have the best naps after swim class. For more info on Water Babies locally visit the NE London page for all classes in the Docklands and Isle of Dogs area.

Baby Sensory is brilliant but can be pretty intense especially for the younger ones. We took our little lady to a Christmas special and I guess she must have been the youngest at just over 3 months and I think it was far too chaotic for her – bubbles, balloons, blow up christmas tree’s, tinsel galore it was confusing even for me. However, at 7 months we got the chance to attend another class with the NetMums group and it was just brilliant. Anna leads the class across the borough, she is engaging and obviously very creative. The venue is not the most charming but once the class gets started you could be anywhere. The theme for our class was under the sea and I assume Anna must create these magical tinsel laden canopies (see picture) for each class or theme. She started off with a lovely welcome song that uses sign language, this is the same every week so that you will learn and pick up some basic signs. Then there was a succession of different songs with a sensory object, for example rattles for sound, coloured scarves for sight, tinsel pom-poms for touch. The pinnacle of the class was the underwater canopy of bubbles, tinsel anemones, glitter fish and a foil coral reef. There are classes across the borough and Canary wharf class has just started this year but with demand so high the places go quick. You might not get as much out of the class if your baby is too young but I would definitely recommend a trial to see if it’s for you and your baby. You can find out more about Anna’s class and try out a free taster yourself by visiting The Baby Sensory website.

IMG_2383Not to dwell on the subject having already written a whole post on it, but The Creation Station baby art classes are the highlight of my week. It’s a fun, social class with a major competitive twist – that being all us mummies attempting to create best in show every week. The paints are edible and I assume incredibly tasty by how much is eaten every week. The class is great value, we create a take home item every week and I am super impressed by the quality of the supplies we use. Last week, we made these rather fetching fish mobiles and for mother’s day gorgeous hand print canvases (see our Tree creation below) that I can’t wait to frame and hang up in my little lady’s nursery. Julia, who runs the class, offers a great buy one get one free taster so essentially you get to try two weeks to see if you really like it. This term, we have explored colours and we move on to shapes next term and its great for building not only creativity but developing hand-eye coordination too. The classes are held south of the river in East Greenwich but it is really easy to get to on the DLR. To get your creative on get in touch with Julia at The Creation Station website.

I have also reviewed Gymboree in a previous post, but feel it deserves a mention as they have so many options for pre-schoolers and its also a great venue to host a party on the island too. The Gymboree in E14 is based at the top of the island closer to Blackwall DLR and Poplar. Gymboree have a number of classes including baby sensory, play and learn, music and arts. My little lady loved the session and it was the first time she started attempting to crawl.

IMG_2628The highlight was definitely the magical non popping bubbles they have (and sell too apparently) – amazing fun for the mummies too. What I love about the set up at Gymboree is that you can buy a flexible package and attend when you want across 3 months, we never know when our baby will be ill or you just can’t make it to class – sometimes you really should not wake a sleeping baby – trust me it’s not pretty. For more info on Gymboree check out their docklands website and sign up for a free trial.

Island Life for the New Mummy

No I am not talking about pina colada’s, white sand beaches and tropical heat (if only), the island I am referring to is that of dogs. I have been partially living in North London since my daughters birth while my house gets renovated, so I was somewhat out of the mummy social scene here on the isle of dogs. However, in the last few weeks I have met so many fabulous mummies and got the run down of what’s what and what’s hot here in E14.

With every new mum I meet I hear about or am recommending a class, meet up, event that they or I don’t know about so thought it was only fair to share this information to all the new mummies in the area. This post will go through free classes and meets ups and a follow on post will detail a plethora of classes to keep you and your little one busy all week-long!

Throughout my whole pregnancy I had the best intentions to attend the NCT meet ups but being to chicken quite frankly I only went to my first NCT meet up a few weeks ago. At first I felt completely shy and insecure, like it was my first day at high school. However there was no need for any fears, everyone was super warm and welcoming. The Tower Hamlet NCT coffee meet ups take place every Monday between 2-4pm usually in Tom’s Kitchen or the Little Unicorns nursery. In Tom’s there is a private dining room that the staff lovingly lay out play mats and toys for the babies to play and serve delicious cakes and coffees for the mummies to devour! Little Unicorns Canada Place is a great space, it is one of the prominent nurseries in the wharf. The best bit is you get to see what they offer so if you’d want to use their services for day care when/if you go back to work its a great way to get your little one used to the surroundings. You can find all the details about the meets up in E14 and the rest of Tower Hamlets on their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/TowerHamletsNct

MumsNet have monthly meet ups in the Wharf and they are organised by the friendliest mummy I’ve met yet. The last one took place a couple of weeks ago and was hosted at Gymboree. The Gymboree in E14 is based at the top of the island closer to Blackwall DLR and Poplar. Gymboree, essentially interactive soft play, have newborn classes on Thursday afternoon but have so many options for pre school age kids and even have a Saturday open gym sessions that you can attend as a non-member for only a fiver and just have a play. My little lady loved the session and even started attempting to crawl. The highlight was definitely the magical non popping bubbles they have (and sell too apparently) that adorned all the little cuties like gorgeous translucent pearls. For more info on Gymboree check out their docklands website and sign up for a free trial – http://www.gymboree-uk.com/f/docklands/ The March MumsNet meet up details just got posted today but the places are limited and fill up quick, so join now! You can find more info about the all things mumsnet at http://local.mumsnet.com/tower-hamlets/group-meet-ups/canary-wharf

Living pretty much next to Mudchute farm its pretty disgraceful that I haven’t visited even once in the last 8 years. But now having my little lady to take to the petting zoo I really have no excuse so will make a trip pretty soon. Muddyboots, is the much sought after nursery in the area, I was recommended to get my name on the list when I was pregnant as the demand for a coveted place is so high. On Mondays, in partnership with a number of local organisations, Muddyboots are offering a free stay and play session for little ones and their carers from 10am – 12pm. They even have a lovely cafe on site for you to get your coffee and cake on afterwards. Check out http://www.mudchute.org/childrens-young-people-services/mudchute-nursery

My favourite class has to be Pilates, selfishly this ones for me and the whole time I am there I’m silently praying that my little one is either asleep or happily playing in her pram. The instructor is amazing and It’s not like your usual softly softly postnatal workouts; so if you’re not up for pushing your core to its max then I would give this one a miss. The class is offered free through a local scheme – the Community Parents Project. There is also a weekly bumps and babies meet up at Cafe Forever (they do a good jacket potato) every Monday at 1.30pm. The project even provides trained volunteers that act as support and mentors to new parents. More info on classes and meets up can be found here http://www.island-house.org.uk/projects/community-parents/

There’s a great group I joined a while ago on Facebook called Walking Mums London. It was set up by a rather adventurous North London Mummy, whom I assume loves to walk. Anyone in the group can arrange a walk which goes out to all members and they can decide if they want to join the walk. I went along for the first time last week and given that they were walking past my house it would be rude not to. The day was brilliant and I met some lovely ladies and babies that I am already planning on meeting up with. Our walk started at the top of the wharf all the way to the Greenwich observatory, we even did the immensely steep hill up to the top (See picture for proof). It did completely exhaust me! Need to do more Pilates clearly! There are different walks across London all the time so definitely have a look at https://facebook.com/WalkingMumsLondon – today they are off to Kew Gardens.

Now, I haven’t been to the children’s Center yet and given its in the park next to my house again I really have no excuse. But I have heard the nursery time and stay and play are great fun. The Isle of dogs CC is located in Millwall Park right next to Island Gardens DLR. They have baby play on Tuesday’s at 3-4pm and baby massage on Wednesday at 10am. They also provide advice on breastfeeding, weaning and when the time comes they even have potty training support. For the current timetable check here http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/idoc.ashx?docid=7c2a736a-e543-48ed-9cea-c59cddd61397&version=-1

You didn’t think I’d forgotten about the daddies on the island now, did you? The fabulous people at the Idea Store Canary Wharf have put together a Saturday Dads Club. It’s story time for dads and their under 4s. The info can be found https://www.ideastore.co.uk/idea-stores-canary-wharf-activities-events. I’ve heard it’s brilliant for baby daddy bonding and gives the mummies a couple of hours of respite to catch up with friends, go shopping or even enjoy the luxury of an undisturbed shower!!! Who knew that post baby a shower in peace could be as zen as a whole day at the spa!

Do share in comments or email me through any other classes and events you’d like me to feature.