This week I caught up with Helen from Adventure Babies Waltham Forest to hear about the rollercoaster journey she has experienced being a mum and small business owner running baby classes in Waltham Forest during the coronavirus pandemic.
First of all could you tell us a bit about your baby classes please Helen? What they are and where they are please?
In a nutshell, the classes are Sensory Storytelling Adventures which means that every week we take babies and toddlers on an adventure through an immersive storytelling experience. There are books, props, puppets, sensory play, messy play and heaps more. Everything is linked to a story and to the Early Years Framework, meaning that all the activities are designed to support baby and child development for the stage of the children who attend each class.
Wow these classes sound amazing fun! So am I right in thinking that they are baby development classes with a difference and you have them in Walthamstow, Woodford and Highams Park?
Yes the whole idea is to support language and communication development, sensory development, physical development, memory… everything really.
How did you feel when you heard about the first lockdown? Did it affect your baby classes in Waltham Forest?
Yes it did! It was terrifying really as being a self – employed mum I didn’t realise how vulnerable I actually was. We decided to stop classes a week before the national lockdown because we felt that there was a risk posed to our customers and we didn’t feel comfortable with it. I corresponded with all of my customers about moving the sessions to an online platform and the response was incredible. Everyone was so understanding. We had a weekend to adapt our classes to an online format which was exciting but also a massive challenge with a toddler to look after and entertain too. Luckily, we all worked together. Adventure Babies is amazing like that. Everybody is so supportive. By Monday we had 3 areas ready to air their online classes and I was one of them….
So you were totally able to adapt what you were offering over one weekend! That’s incredible but must have been hard work especially as a mum of a small baby too! Are you offering baby classes in Walthamstow, Woodford and Highams Park again?
Yes I am now thankfully, which is amazing! I think it is so important to be able to get out and about as a new mum or dad. The benefits to your mental health far outweigh the risks for many people. Having a new baby is an emotional time and a time when you need support and encouragement of others going through the same thing, so I wanted to be able to get back to my babies, mums and dads as quickly as possible. The whole reason I chose the Adventure Babies Franchise was because I looked at the format and thought it was not only amazingly educational for the babies and children but it also gives parents the opportunity to bond, which in those early years is priceless.
I really can’t believe what you have been through! Just having to adapt and change at every turn at such short notice. You must be really knowledgeable about baby and child development to be able to adapt so quickly. So how did it feel running the first class after Covid?
Exciting. Terrifying. I think I went through all the emotions to be honest. I’m just so happy that we can return with our new covid secure classes and that we are currently able to continue throughout each tier level of the next phase of the pandemic.
It goes to show a level of organisation and commitment I had never imagined when I think about turning up to a baby class. So if I wanted to bring my new baby along to a baby class with you how could I book?
Yep! You said it, organisation is key. I’m so passionate about what I do, that I would always have tried to return as soon as it was safe to do so because I wholeheartedly believe that our classes make such a difference.