No? Here’s why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t be a*sed with a class…
Me finally in the water at the hallowed swimming class
As the weather grows colder I’m reminded of this time last year when in the midst of Post-natal depression and anxiety we embarked on swimming lessons for my son who was 3 months old at the time. I remember all too well the stress of getting him to the lesson, changing him whilst he wriggled and screamed at the poolside while my husband went to get himself changed – me hot and flustered because although it was freezing outside it was like a sauna in the pool room.
Once the acrobatics and logistics of changing were done with I watched anxiously as my son was dunked into the water and cried his way through the lesson, intrusive thoughts of him drowning ruminating round my head. And then it was back to the gymnastics of changing a wet, cold baby at the poolside.
I look back now and think ‘why the hell did we do that?!’ And more to the point why did we pay £160 for the privilege?!
If we lived in Spain where the weather is great most of the year round and we had a pool in the back garden swimming lessons would be a must. The classes teach confidence in the water and have been known to prevent accidental drowning; important? Definitely. Essential at 3 months old in this country? Perhaps not.
I struggled with other classes too. In the early days of having a new-born sleeping and feeding routines aren’t well established. So I booked and paid for classes that I didn’t get to, or that he slept through, while I felt guilty that he’d missed out on the fantastic developmental opportunities afforded by such classes because he hadn’t heard me singing ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ at him in a darkened village hall with a portable disco light flashing at the ceiling.
Don’t get me wrong, classes for you and your baby can be a fantastic experience but I do feel that there’s a lot of pressure on mum’s to take part. Let’s not forget that while there are undoubtedly benefits to swimming lessons, baby sensory, rhyme time, chat and play and so on, at the end of the day these are businesses that exist to make money.
With all due respect to our parents the plethora of activities we have available didn’t exist then and we turned out ok – didn’t we?
Now that Harry is older, (16 months) and is in an established routine we love our Friday morning music classes and both get a lot of enjoyment out of it. We’ve also done messy play which again is great because let’s face it, none of us are really that enthusiastic about getting glitter and glue all over the sofa (seriously, that shit gets everywhere) or cooking up batches of spaghetti, dyeing them with food colouring and letting a toddler loose on your cream rug.
I guess what I’m saying ladies is that if you want to do classes and get something out of it; whether it’s bonding with your baby, socialising with other mums or just having a reason to get up and get out of the house – then go for it. If however you’re struggling and the classes add more stress than anything else don’t be afraid to opt out. I promise you that your child won’t be held back a school year because you didn’t attend Spanish for the under one’s, (I don’t think this is actually a class but you get my point!) or fail to make the Olympic Gymnastics team because you didn’t take them to Gym tots when they were 8 months old. All they need in that first year is your love and your attention, anything else is just a bonus.