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We are all breathing that gentle sigh of relief when we see the daily coronavirus figures decline. The starting glimpses of returning to some form of normality is a HUGE reassurance. But, for a lot of us, even though “freedom day” has come and gone, we’re still feeling on-edge. A lot of us are struggling with post-lockdown anxiety, and are struggling to relax or believe that it is truly safe to go anywhere.

Things are uncertain. However, closing off from the outside world isn’t the answer. It will actually make you more anxious if you keep yourself in a lockdown.

But, if you’re looking for a few ways to start dealing with your post-lockdown anxiety, where do you begin?

Here are some approachable ways that might start to ease your post-lockdown anxiety. Hope they help!

1. Start introducing a regular daily routine (that includes leaving the house)

It was a very different lifestyle for us when the UK was living in lockdown. Yet, as much as there was fear about the figures we were hearing daily on the news, we also had a small sense of security that we could keep it out as long as we remained indoors.

With restrictions lifting, and more people going outside again, that sense of security is slipping away. So, really, it makes sense as to why we would feel frightened of the change. However, a good way of trying to ease that post-lockdown anxiety includes adding routine to our day and trying to leave the house at least once a day. Even if you leave the house, take your little one for a walk around the block, and then go home again. You’ll feel better for the fresh air, and you will give yourself a gradual reassurance that letting the outside world into your home is not necessarily a bad thing.

2. Mindfulness/meditation/breathing exercises

When we’re feeling tense and anxious, it can be quite difficult to come down from that heightened emotion. We can sometimes find ourselves in a downwards spiral if we continue to dwell in our thoughts. However, a good method of climbing back out again is by practicing mindfulness, meditation and/or breathing exercises.

The NHS have a page on mindfulness, and stated the following about how mindfulness can help our mental wellbeing:

Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.
When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.

It’s a great idea to start taking conscious efforts to practice any of the three above ideas. Even if you aren’t feeling particularly anxious! It may not fully work straight away, but with practice, you will really feel the benefits of taking 5 or 10 minutes out of your day to focus on your mental health.

Meditation with a mother and daughter  sitting on a sofa.

If you’re interested in more ways to explore mindfulness, check out our previous blog “mindfulness for mums“.

3. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling post-lockdown anxiety

It’s very easy to feel ashamed or embarrassed for feeling anxious post-lockdown, especially if you are seeing and hearing about other people going out and “getting back to normal” again. However, the downfall for most of us when it comes to how we feel about ourselves is the way we compare ourselves with others. It’s very easy to see that others are coping just fine and to be angry or upset with ourselves for not being the same.

But, the more you beat yourself, the more upset and anxious you are going to feel. And then, you will find yourself caught in an endless loop. So, here’s the reminder you need to read (and try to say out loud to yourself) when you feel upset with yourself for feeling anxious:

You are your own person. You have your own feelings, your own thoughts and your own worries. What others can cope with right now may not be the same as what you can cope with. But there are many things that you are able to cope with, and you should hold your chin high for that. Be proud of being honest, considerate, and wonderful you.

4. Remind yourself, and establish, the areas in your life where you have control

There has been a lot of negative changes following the coronavirus outbreak. Major life-affecting changes that haven’t fully left us. It constantly feels like another lockdown is looming around the corner. The world hasn’t gone back to “normal” yet, and it’s possible that we will never return to the way things were!

…Those thoughts have probably crossed your mind a few times by now, haven’t they? The problem with these worrisome thoughts is that they are issues that are out of our control. It’s sort of similar to when parents may feel anxiety while their children are growing up and start behaving unpredictably/making their own decisions. When there are areas in our life that are out of our control, things can feel terrifying!

Feeling a lack of control can make us feel quite helpless. So one of the ways we can try to ease this element of anxiety is to remind ourselves of all the aspects in our lives we do have control over. Write down the elements in your life that you are in charge of. Make a note and think of the things that can change and improve because of your actions. This could include: physical health, your routine, designated playtime with your children, time with your partner, “me” time, who you associate with, learning/improving a new skill, the way you eat, the way you sleep or, plain and simply, the way you appreciate others and the way you think about yourself.

Remind yourself that these things are down to you! And then consciously make an effort to establish them in your life again. You are still in control of these things in your life, and try not to forget them.

5. Limit (and monitor) the amount of news and social media posts you read

We all remember that moment when we were all sat at home with our families. Hearing the PM instruct us that we must remain indoors… It was a crazy and confusing time (it still is!). And, as a result of that, we were all glued to our TV’s and our phones, waiting with bated breath to find out the next update.

We all clocked in more screen time, obsessed with finding out daily figures and hearing any fresh news on the subject. But despite the fact that we aren’t in lockdown, that problem hasn’t gone away. A lot of us still monitor our local figures on a near day-to-day basis. But, doing so is just making us more frightened anytime today’s figures are a few higher than yesterday.

So perhaps it is time for us to consciously limit the amount of this sort of media we are consuming. By limiting the amount that we are reading about this matter, the less that the pandemic may be on our minds. You do not need to block out the information completely, but reducing the amount you are consuming will do wonders!

A faceless figure holds a cup of coffee as she reads the news by social media, something that doing too much of can lead to post-lockdown anxiety

6. Set boundaries, but don’t avoid the world!

No one knows your comfort zones better than you do. It’s easy enough to stick inside them, but if “staying in your comfort zone” means never walking out of your front door, then you may have a problem!

We’re not advising that you dive head-first into a football-stadium-sized crowd, maskless and sharing drinks with friendly, but loudly howling, strangers. Keep your boundaries! If it makes you feel more comfortable, continue to stay away from crowded locations and request eating in outdoor seating areas. Wear your facemask and sanitise your hands after walking out of every shop you’ve been in.

Do what makes you feel protected- but don’t shut the world out.

7. Tell class providers about your post-lockdown anxiety

With the lift of the mandatory mask-wearing rule, a lot of people have put off attending events or going to public places. It may have put you off attending a baby or toddler class that you regularly go to. However, this is something that can probably be approached by simply reaching out and talking to your class provider.

Ask questions such as “how do you run your risk assessments” or “what are you doing to stay covid-safe”. Tell them that you feel a little bit anxious. They will be able to discuss with you what precautions you can both put in place to make you feel as comfortable as they can. Perhaps request to sit near a window or bring in your own mat to sit on.

Reach out to your favourite class providers on Happity, and see what they will do to help you with this!

8. Small, slow and steady changes

No one said that everything has to change all at once! Yes, that did happen way back when we were first being shut into our houses. But that doesn’t mean that you have to change back just as quickly.

You need to follow your own pace. If something feels like too fast of a change for you, then that’s okay! Move to the beat of your own drum. And if the rhythm you play is a little bit slower than others, don’t fret about it. Make the right changes as slow or as fast as you want.

You just need to listen to your instincts and approach new situations when you are ready for them.

9. Seek support for post-lockdown anxiety

If you are looking for more tips on how you can start to deal with your post-lockdown anxiety, then the NHS have provided their own list of tips. There’s some great advice on there that you should check out!

However, if you are finding yourself particularly struggling, then we strongly recommend reaching out to your GP or contacting a charity to talk to someone. Find more information here.

Remember, we’re still in uncertain times, and you are valid for feeling wary and anxious. Take things at your own pace, but try not to block out everything and everyone. Look after yourselves!

Lockdown has been a rough time for everyone, especially mothers, families, and those providing baby & toddler classes. However, during these trying times, Happity has stayed hopeful. We have remained passionate and driven in pushing for the importance of baby classes.

Our fully remote working team has gone from strength to strength as we’ve welcomed more and more members into the family. What started off as a small support team has now grown with new faces bringing renewed energy to help spread the Happity name.

But, despite having been running since 2017, only a few of us had actually met in person! That is until recently…

Where did Happity, and it’s passion for baby and toddler classes, begin?

Co-founders Emily and Sara set up the company as mothers themselves. Both understand the struggles that mothers go through with PND and the loneliness.

Both have had previous successful careers. Emily is a former employee at innocent smoothies and Sara is a former employee at BBC Radio One. But, the two of them were united (and we are so glad they were!) through their joint passions.

What was their mutual drive? To simultaneously help parents learn how to maintain their mental wellness while also providing an easy place to find baby classes. And, thus, Happity was born!

To read more about Emily and Sara’s stories, click here!

Who is in our team?

Happity has welcomed many more likeminded individuals with the same ambition to help mothers through these difficult times. With this they have welcomed many members!

Nicola, the social media star (and a mother of two fully grown daughters) with a creative minds that has no bounds. Lisa, a mother and a true people person with a whimsical delightful aura. Sophie, a mother and a master of advertisement. Andy, a father and a tech wizard capable of several technical feats.

And then we also have our great team of young kickstarters!

Alex, a mother and an Admin superstar who can dot the i’s and cross the t’s like no other. Leanne, Happity’s very own Bard, except instead of writing epic poems like Homer, she focuses on epic blogs. Jack, a marketing muse who brings his own creative flare to the marketing team.

Kayleigh; a zestful mind with a great passion for the work she does. And we recently gained a new member to our team: Adelayo! She will be Andy’s assistant in the challenging world of tech support. She has a great passion for coding and can’t wait to get stuck into the new tasks Happity has planned for her.

This has become known as the Happity family, and as you can tell, it will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years.

The Happity team- toothy and elated to be together in person for the first time!

Team training (in person!)

Only a few of us had actually met before. With coronavirus having still been a risk, we haven’t had the chance to, until now!

The opportunity to meet each other finally arrived on the 10th of August. Thanks to Lockdown restrictions being lifted we were able to celebrate Happity Day as a collective. We still remained vigilant however, each taking lateral flow tests beforehand to make sure we were preventing any potential spread.

The day started off with a team building exercise run by Sara. We looked at how we can better utilise our work time. This then led into a little quiz in which we were able to identify what type of workers we all were.

The results ranged from the prioritiser, to the planner and others such as the visualiser. This fun little quiz helped to give the team a better idea of how each of us works best and how we can better work together. (You can find out your own personality type here!)

Mental wellness with the baby and toddler classes crew

After putting our brains on full blast with the team building, we then took the opportunity to put them on ice as we went into a group yoga session to give us all an insight into the feeling of a clear mind and a method to relax. This involved a 10-minute meditation period, listening to guide talk us through the way we can engage our muscles and connect with our body while lying effortlessly on the floor.

After a glorious looking lunch, which Emily had generously provided for us along with a glass of prosecco each, it was Emily’s turn to run a training session.

Emily conducted a session that helped us evaluate our own self worth and what we all value in our lives. As a trained life coach, she helped us to better grasp our aims and how we can all individually better ourselves through our day to day lives.

This would help us to gauge the values that Happity as a company also holds dear; through its commitment to helping with the mental wellbeing of all its clients.

It’s not all fun and games working for Happity… Apart from when it is!

(From Left to Right) Lisa, Kayleigh and Emily from Happity (Baby and Toddler Classes site) stand as mini golf victors!

With the ‘work’, done it was time for the challenging part… Crazy golf!

All of us raced up to the golf course for a horse racing themed extravaganza. There were highs, there were laughs and there were miseries as we all realised that none of us were as good at golf as we had once thought.

At the end of the day Kayleigh was the official winner, yet all of us had a greater sense of victory.

We had come together on a lovely day to celebrate the work we had done and the company that we had grown to become accustomed to on what turned out to be a unforgettable Happity Day.

We had such a lovely day. And we’ve actually put a reel together showing you the best bits! Check it out here – and be sure to leave us a like and a comment!

Would you like to join our award winning baby and toddler classes team?

If our team sounds like a group that you would like to be a part of, then here’s some good news: you could be! We have some great opportunities within Happity ready and waiting to be filled.

If you are aged 16-24, and are on Universal Credit, then check out our opportunities here. If you’re 24 or over, check out our opportunities here!

Hopefully this will be the first of many Happity days for us to share!

What does a mum with PND look like? It might not be the one you expect. She might be the mum you meet at a toddler group who looked like she’s got it all together. Or the mum you passed on the street who smiled and looked so happy.

The truth is you might never know how another mum is REALLY feeling. So be kind! Always.

1. The mother with the biggest smile in the room

When you think of someone who has depression you expect them to look sad or down. But a mum with PND might have the brightest smile in the room. Why? Because she might be putting on a mask. And making a really big effort to hide her true feelings.

2. The one who looks like they’ve got it all together

A mum with PND might look like someone who has got the hang of this parenting gig and appears to do it with ease. She might post photos to social media where she and her baby look so happy and content. You might even see those pics and feel a little envious of how easily she seems to have slotted into her new role as a mama.

Remember that social media never tells the whole story. The mum you think is bossing it might really be struggling behind closed doors. She might also be doing both!

busting the myths of postnatal depression

3. The one who is chatty and engaged when you meet them

You might expect a mum with PND is withdrawn and disengaged. But she might be friendly and chatty when you meet her. The truth is it might have taken a lot of strength and energy for her to get out and be with others. And she might be putting in her all to chat and engage to find support but to also hide her PND – especially with those she’s just met.

4. The one who looks amazing

You met a mum who looked amazing. Dressed immaculately, her smile enhanced by a slick of lippy. Hair looking fab. You cannot always tell who has depression by her outward appearance. She might have put her best look on to raise her confidence before leaving the house.

6. The mum who is surrounded by family and friends

You might know or meet a mum who has family nearby who are super supportive and who has loads of amazing friends. And think that they must be so happy and well.

It can certainly help, but even being surrounded by an army of caring people that love you is sometimes no shield for PND.

Those suffering might be surrounded by a load of people who care but still feel isolated and alone.

7. The mother you LEAST expect to have PND

The truth is that you might not know who is struggling with their mental health. Unless they tell you.

Sometimes those suffering choose not to tell many people about their struggles.

PND – behind the mask

There is still too much stigma and too many myths surrounding PND. Many mums might feel a misplaced feeling of shame or a fear of judgement if they admit they are suffering.

They might feel alone and lonely.

They might not know how to ask for help. Or just not have the energy to reach out.

Support for PND

Sometimes the hardest and bravest step when you have PND is asking for help. When you take that step you are one step closer to recovery. And PND is 100% recoverable.

Find out where to get help and support

We always recommend Pandas as a wonderful place to get support. And APNI.

We also have some amazing classes listed on Happity that support mums with PND. Head to Happity to find classes near you.

You’re busy looking after your baby. You’re coping with sleep deprivation. You just don’t have time to think about how to lose any weight you put on in pregnancy. You should always love your body – it just grew a tiny human after all! But what are some easy bite-size weight loss tips for busy mums? It’s all about learning to walk before you can run!

The dreaded D word bringing out the toddler in you!

When it comes to trying to lose weight and the dreaded ‘D’ word, does your brain have a particular reaction that can be frustrating, torrential, aggravating and usually end up with you sitting on the naughty step with a tub of ice cream in your lap as you have a little bit of a cry?

First of all, let us reassure you, you are not alone! Most of us have heard the word ‘diet’ so many times that it immediately sends us into a fight or flight frenzy! We are all in the same boat when it comes to that ‘D’ word.

But, sadly, here comes the bad news: quick-fix diets rarely work!

A bit of a difficult pill to swallow for a lot of people. But speaking for the sake of mums here: we don’t have time to think about how to lose weight. We are tired, and so the mere sight of a salad makes us want an extra bit of cake. Our reactions mimic our toddlers, and suddenly not wanting to share is kind of understandable.

So, should we just give up because we are busy? Definitely not. If you’re feeling a bit down about your new mum tum then here are some easy ways to approach it all.

Weight loss tip for busy mums: “Learning to walk”

When a baby is taking its first magical steps, it doesn’t happen automatically. Our baba’s don’t suddenly kick their heels together in the air and start galloping through the wind, doing star jumps and flips.

First, they learn the basics. They learn how to sit up, they learn how to stand, and they learn how to balance. Then, and only then, have they got some base work and can learn to walk.

The same logic can be applied to when we want to try and get healthy. It’s near impossible to jump straight into the lifestyle of the fit and healthy. We shouldn’t hold such high expectations of ourselves of being able to do it all straight away! If we want to be able to run, we first need to learn to walk

And if we want to learn to walk, we need to focus on the base work.

Step one: sitting up (yup, we’re still talking weight loss tips)

This is the first big step and the beginning of your journey. For a lot of us, this is the most difficult. Mainly because we have decided we want to do something to change our lifestyle. It’s okay to feel nervous! But, we should not inflate this step into being our end goal. We all have a finish line to reach, and it’s not going to be at the starting pole.

Our first hurdle is this: do just one thing that will begin to improve your mental or physical health.

Not something as vague as “start a diet” however. This one thing should be specific. Think of what you are going to do in more detail.

A couple of weight loss tips/ideas that we had for mums:

  • Do one activity a week that involves physical exercise. That might be as simple as walking your little one to the park when you would normally drive. Or signing up for a baby/toddler class that involves more physical activity. We have plenty of classes listed (Latino Bambino, Sweaty Mama, Buggyfit to list just a few) on Happity that might help with this.
  • Learn more about Nutrition: This step may not involve making any changes to your eating habits yet. This step is more just about finding out what nutrition is. And how eating well can make you feel better. One of the easiest ways you can slide these little tidbits into your day is by following a few nutrition/body positivity pages on social media! Some influencers on Instagram include NicsNutrition or Rhirition for nutrition information, and Alexlight_ldn for body positivity. Have a look around to see who appeals to you!
Faceless figure sitting at a table and researching - weight loss tips for mums

A change is a change, no matter how small or simple it might sound at first. Once doing one of these feels second nature to you, and is firmly in your routine, then move to the next step.

Step two: standing up

The next step isn’t too tricky to wrap your head around: add one more thing to your routine that will help your mental or physical health.

A few more weight loss tips for mums!:

  • Eating at regular meal times: This one can often be the downfall for a lot of mamas. But, why not try eating at the same time that your child is eating. Or just before/after if it’s impossible to eat and feed! Try not to forget about yourself when you are feeding others. And if eating all of your meals regularly still sounds too hard, then try at least getting your breakfast at a regular time every morning.
  • Getting enough sleep: Studies have shown that getting good quality sleep is equally as important as diet and exercise in regulating our weight. Again, this is a tricky one for mums. But, there’s a few things you can try doing to squeeze in a few extra hours of sleep. Napping at the same time your child for example. Or going to bed an hour earlier than normal. It can be tempting to want to stay awake for as much as your “alone time” as possible. But if you catch your extra Z’s, you’ll feel a lot of mental benefits too like an improved mood and reduced levels of stress.

It’s a good thing to note that if you try one of these weight loss tips for mums, and you just can’t do it right now or it’s not working, then change it! Give something else a go and dip your toe in the different waters.

Managed to squeeze one of these into your routine too? Great! Onto the next step.

Step three: finding your balance

You’re getting the idea. Add another thing to your routine that will help your mental or physical health. You’ve done it twice already now, you can do it a third!

More weight loss tips for mums? Don’t mind if we do!:

  • Meal prepping: Time to raid the tupperware cupboard! Meal prepping is a great way to have your breakfast, lunch and/or dinners ready to go within a moments notice. Give yourself a regular day where you know you’ll have a bit of free time (and when you’re not mentally exhausted!) to prep up some healthy and ready to go meals. There’s a few good ideas over on Tasty, but there’s also plenty of videos on YouTube to give you some ideas too!
  • Resist eating up your kid’s leftovers: One of our pitfalls! our child leaves behind food on their plate and we are tired and hungry and pooch it off. Make it your mantra to avoid eating what they leave on their plates!
  • Reduce cakes, biscuits and sweets: This one is the bane of us all! An important thing to note: you should not tell yourself that you are cutting it out altogether! If you really and dearly want that slice of cake, then you deserve it! Go for it, and don’t tell yourself “no”. All you should consider doing is reducing the amount of that thing you are having gradually. No sudden changes, no quick decisions. Take your time with it. Because life is too short to not have that tesco jam doughnut every once in a while!
A mother and daughter -weight loss tips for mums

How are you doing? Mastered this one? Okay, next step!

Step four: Walking

So, this is what it’s been leading up to. This is what the base work has been for. This is where we get on the road and figure out how to lose weight.

And, here’s a surprise, you’re already doing it. You’ve walked three steps already, and you’ve done them at your own pace.

By this point, you will have taught yourself the ways in which you personally find your body is able to change. You can find the ideal ways to convince your body to do little changes without cutting out anything that you don’t want to.

Understandably, this is a long haul approach, and the weight will not fly off. But remember, this weight didn’t arrive overnight, it won’t leave overnight either.

Keep on keeping on with new weight loss tips

From here, it’s as simple as carrying on! Keep on introducing new things into your lifestyle that will help you and your health. Gradually, you’ll be a completely different person to the one you once were. But, patience is key! Do not try to rush your health.

The NHS have listed a few more ways you can improve your healthy eating here (if you are looking for more ideas).

Oh, and we have just one more extra point to say to those who want to lose weight.

Remember: try to love your body

This world is made up of so many different people, and the wobbly bits that make us different make us wonderful! The world can offer all sorts of tips on how to get healthier. But, that’s exactly it. You should think about wanting to be healthy, mentally and physically. Being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean researching how to lose weight. Being healthier may mean for you to figure out how to love yourself.

So we want to say this: big shout out to the mum bods, the mum tums and your wobbly bits.

If you are reading this as a new mum, remember that it took nine months for your body to grow and change so it makes sense that it will take at least nine months to change back. The human body is miraculous. You did just grow a tiny human in there, remember? Do not punish or hate your body for achieving that amazing feat! Give it the extra love it needs.

And If you are reading this as a dad, well you have been carrying the stresses and the weight of supporting your partners through all this too! Do not feel bad for gaining a little weight in the process. This weight was gained through love and care for your family. Give it a little bit of love too!

Child like finger painting relating to weight loss tips for mums

Disclaimer: We are not health or medical professionals and you should always seek medical advice if you are worried about your health. If you are severely concerned about your own or a loved one’s weight/health, then you should contact your GP to seek out help.

We have some exciting news that we’re so excited to share with you. Happity has won an award! And a big one at that.

We are thrilled that Happity has been selected as winner of the Marketplace of the Year award! For the 2021 Baby Independent Innovation awards!

This award means even more to us all at Team Happity after weathering the storm of the past year – with all that the Covid pandemic threw at us and our industry.

We won an award – despite tough competition

This award means so much because there were over 1,500 nominations this year coming in from all over the world for the inaugural Baby Innovation Awards. The competition was extremely fierce. And we’re over the moon to win in our category. It means such a lot. But we couldn’t have done it without all our amazing class providers who list and book their classes on Happity and the thousands of parents who use our app and website to find baby and toddler classes near them. Thank you to each and every one of you! Your support really does mean a lot.

It’s been a tough year – why we won an award means so much more

The past year and beyond has been so tough for so many. As a relatively new small business whose whole market is about baby and toddler classes the Covid restrictions and the lockdowns meant we had to pivot our whole business almost overnight.

When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020 suddenly all the baby and toddler classes we listed were not able to run. We were disappointed – but not at all ready to roll over and give up!

Yes – as parents – we were at home juggling homeschooling with work (whilst also failing to bake banana bread!) But we also worked our socks off to make sure Happity had the best chance of surviving. So that our providers businesses could survive. And so that parents could get the support they so desperately needed.

When everyone was doing Joe Wicks workouts and making the most of their one daily walk we were working working weekend and evenings to switch Happity into a listing and booking service for Zoom classes that would be a lifeline to so many parents.

Pivoting business overnight!

When the first lockdown hit we put in a lot of time and effort to let our class providers know how to switch from in person classes to Zoom classes. We did everything we could to make the transition as easy as possible. And switched over all our Happity listings to list the growing number of Zoom classes for babies and toddlers. We did all we could to let our class providers continue with their classes online. And we also knew that we were helping so many parents in lockdown by making sure they had baby classes to break up their long lockdown days.

Those early lockdown days were LONG if you were at home with an energetic baby or toddler in tow!

Happity was set up to connect parents and combat loneliness. We felt that it was needed more than ever in lockdown. Even if we all had to connect over Zoom!

The battle to get baby & toddler classes in the guidelines

rules for baby and toddler classes in lockdown

Each time lockdown restrictions were listed there were very confused and vague guidelines for class providers. Baby and toddler class leaders were unsure whether they could run or not. And very confused about what they had to do to run. There were pages and pages of government guidance but nothing specific to our sector.

Sara (our Happity co-founder) soon became an expert in the government guidelines (seriously, she could write a PhD on it!) and helped so many class providers by sending out regular emails explaining the nuances of whether and how they could run.

But – it still was so frustrating that we had to wade through pages and pages to send out clear guidelines to our class providers to let them know what was what!

And so we campaigned to get baby and toddler classes included in the guidelines. It wasn’t easy and sometimes progress was painfully slow. But through petitions and campaigning and loads of conversations with government ministers we were able to get clearer guidance for classes to reopen as lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Petition campaign of the year nomination

petition of the year Happity

We were delighted to receive recognition for the amount or work and energy we put in to getting baby and toddler classes included in the guidelines. Emily Tredget – our co-founder – was nominated for Petition Campaign of the Year Award  as part of the annual Your UK Parliament Awards.

She didn’t win – but she was up against Marcus Rashford! So – we will take that one!

We’re just glad that we could help baby and toddler groups open up again and understand the rules they had to follow whenever lockdown restrictions lifted. To help the many small businesses in our sector survive.

The fact that Happity has won an award is the icing on the cake.

We’re so happy baby & toddler classes are back

We’re super happy that classes are back. Class providers are doing such an amazing job putting in all the extra work to make sure classes are Covid safe. So that mums and dads (and carers and grandparents) can go back to classes and that all the babies born in lockdown can mix with other babies and parents again.

What a year it’s been!

It’s been a corona coaster! The past year (or 18 months now) has hit us all hard. New parents especially. And class providers so very much. It feels like hope is finally just around the corner. And – at Happity – we are working hard to make our business grow so we can help more new parents connect through baby and toddler classes. And help more class providers open up and find new customers – to help their small businesses thrive.

Parents and providers – we ALL deserve an award!

We wish that the government could give every parent and every class provider an award for making it through the pandemic! Goodness knows we deserve it.

We’re so grateful Happity won an award as Marketplace of the Year award! For the 2021 Baby Independent Innovation awards. And we dedicate it to you all.

Thank you to all the parents who booked a Happity at Home Zoom class during the pandemic. Thank you to all the class providers who listed their classes on Happity and provided such an important lifeline in the pandemic to parents. And thank you to all those who booked face to face classes through Happity once lockdown restrictions were lifted. You maybe don’t know just how much it means. Not just to us but to all the small businesses we represent.

This award is shared with you all.

So – do a little happy dance to celebrate.

We believe baby and toddler classes are great for little ones and important for parents too.

Did you know that six weeks into motherhood, new mums should receive a mental health check? At the end of your six-week perinatal visit, your midwife should check on you as well as the baby. Well, there’s a high chance that you are a young mother who was hastily questioned in a fluster towards the end of a visitation or simply not asked at all.

But after announcements and effort put in by the government about paying more attention to this issue why is it still not working? If you are a new mum struggling emotionally and/or mentally how can you seek out the help that you need?

The announcement of mental health checks for new mums

According to NHS UK, 1 in 10 mums suffers from PND. This figure is likely higher following the pandemic too, but this issue was being addressed in the past.

In 2018, the NHS introduced a brilliantly progressive introduction to mental health checks for new mums. The idea being that 6-weeks after you have had your baby, your midwife should take time to check on your mental and emotional well-being.

This is a super important step forward in trying to tackle PND. The sooner that PND is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated! If someone can pick up on signs of PND at 6 weeks, then support and help can be put in place quickly.

Support for partners too?

Man sitting on sofa looking low and suffering from their mental health

In December of 2018. NHS England announced that new and expectant fathers would also be offered medical health checks. Yup. Dads suffering from PND, you were noticed too!

With growing figures of 1 in 10 new or expectant dads to be having symptoms of anxiety and depression, this was yet another issue that needed addressing. And, with this, they were offering treatments such as peer support, behavioural couples therapy sessions and other family interventions.

2018 marked a period where mental health in new parents was being addressed. It appeared that the issue was being taken seriously, and with an aim to reduce the figures, things were looking a little brighter for those suffering with PND.

What’s happened to the mental health checks for new mums?

Unfortunately, mental health checks have taken a dip from how highly they were prioritised on the agenda. Warning: here comes the numbers bit!

A high percentage of new mothers (85% according to an NCT survey released April of 2021) say the focus on appointments has been mostly on their babies. (That’s up 45% from 2019!). 60% said their check has been rushed at the end of their visit. And, 25% of parents from this 2021 figure said that they were not being asked about their mental health at all. This lead to a lot of young parents feeling rejected, ignored, and placed on a back-burner, where they are potentially left!

We asked mums in our community about their experiences with the 6-week mental health check-in’s. Here are a few things they said:

‘My doctor refused to do any 6-wk check for me or my baby… I had to make appointments and ‘fight’ to be seen.’

‘Mine was cancelled at 8 weeks. They have said it will be 10 weeks.’

‘They didn’t care at all about me considering I had a difficult labour and were in hospital for a week.’

‘My little one is 1 on Sunday and I have no check up and have never seen or heard (from them)…’

‘I asked for one and was refused.’

These responses, heart-breaking they may be, are not difficult to get your head around following the pandemic. And, as a quick reminder, we cannot shift blame to our midwives right now. Over 2020 and 2021, all NHS staff has seen a colossal amount of strain and is doing their best. We have to keep that in mind when looking at this drastic incline. But, still, we can’t ignore the fact that there are mothers who have truly suffered during the pandemic.

What’s the response?

The issue has clearly become an intimidatingly big issue through the duration of Coronavirus. But, thankfully, it has not gone under the radar of the government and the NHS.

Following these results, the NHS responded by saying they would start opening “Mental health hubs” for new, expectant and bereaved mothers.

This is a long term plan, stating ‘ten sites will be up and running within months’ and ‘every area will have one by April 2024’. As well as offering ‘psychological therapies’ these hubs will provide appropriate training for maternity staff and midwives. This, in time, means parents going through a tough time will receive the mental health support they need.

So, that means we have good news in the long run! NHS has got a long term plan in place for trying to resolve this problem (We are being heard, thank you NHS!). But what about those currently suffering? We have a 3-year waiting period between here and 2024. New mums will still be suffering from their mental health. So, what should they do?

How do I ensure I get a mental health check as a new mum?

Two hands: one offering a little heart (a little bit of love) to the other.

If you are in a strong enough mindset, then it would seem that the answer is to just push. These checks are important and if you think you have it in you to fight for it, then armour up and hit the battle stations! Either contact your GP or tell your midwife that you need it to be made more of a priority. And if it doesn’t happen immediately, keep pushing! Want to take it further? Maybe it’s a good time to start a petition to get the issue raised in parliament.

But, not everyone always feels capable or able to push when in that grey-cloud headspace.

We can offer a few tips on how to manage anxiety in the moment if you are severely suffering. These are a good short-term relief if you feel at the end of your tether.

If you feel like you might know someone who understands what you’re going through, it’s a good idea to reach out to them! Whether they’re parents themselves or you know they potentially suffer from their mental health. It’s very likely they will make for a good shoulder to lean on.

However, if what you’re feeling is quite severe, we have some more information on support for PND here. There are some brilliant charities that you can call (PANDAS and MumsAid just to list a couple). They specialise in specifically helping parents suffering mentally. If you feel that you might be in danger, your best option will be to call 999 or call the Samaritans.

Regardless of how it may feel at times, there are people out there willing to listen. There are people who know how to help. Please, reach out to someone, because it can get better.

Stay safe.

A lot of parents assume that the benefits of baby and toddler classes are mostly for the parents. They’re a great way to meet other mums and dads, and finding your tribe makes parenting so much easier.

But toddler classes are not just a place to hear a choir of mums and dads singing baby shark with half-a-dozen giggles. They actually have a ton of surprising benefits that will be preparing your little one for school in advance! We wouldn’t expect anyone to be thinking that far in advance, but it’s exciting to learn how much classes could be helping!

Here’s just a few ways that all the play and fun they have at classes are an important part of early learning:

1. Story time at toddler classes – introducing reading and phonics

We all know how much little ones love hearing stories. You may be all-too familiar with the regular books that pop up at story-time’s (Gruffalos are not a myth and many a Tiger will probably come to many a tea!). But, did you know that this hearing these stories are helping to develop their reading skills?

The repetition of these stories helps to introduce new concepts like phonics, rhythms and sounds. This will really help children build the foundation of skills needed to learn to read later on.

2. Moving and grooving is more than just fun!

According to the NHS, once your child is walking, they should be staying active for at least 180 minutes (3 hours) of the day! A toddler class is a great way to encourage toddlers to begin exercising in a group. They begin preparing them for physical education and perhaps encouraging them to join sports teams in the future.

All the moving and grooving is helping them with gross motor skills, which will continue to develop as they grow.

The NHS have also encouraged being active together. And if any of our baby and toddler classes are to go by, then you need to be ready and willing to get a sweat on too! (Check out some of our baby classes today!)

3. Beep beep! – Crafts & motor skills

toddler benefiting from drawing at toddler class

What might look like “Play Time” at your toddler group or baby class is actually far more developmental than it might appear.

Simply letting your child squish a ball of Play-Doh helps them to develop fine motor skills their hands and fingers. While riding around and driving a toy Coupe Car helps to develop other gross motor skills.

Developing motors skills from an early age will benefit them when they come to learning more complex skills at nursery and school. Like holding a pencil and beginning to write.

So next time your toddler gifts you their latest Jackson Pollock imitation painting, remember that they’ve developed more than just their artistic talents!

4. One, two, three, four, five, now my child is counting right!

As many times as you have heard those familiar favourite nursery rhymes, they are still a fairly new concept to your little ones. Hearing them repeatedly is helping to introduce and teach counting at an early age. This might mean that maths comes a little bit easier for them when it comes to nursery and school.

These nursery rhymes often include movements that will be using our fingers too, very useful for also helping out with teaching toddlers motor skills again. (And the more opportunities to help with that, the better!)

5. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, here we go around again – Routines

Finding a class that connects with you and your little one (one that includes a snack time or tidy-up time) is a great opportunity to introduce the idea of routines.

Introducing this concept at a young age will make it less of an alien concept when it comes to that daunting first day of nursery. Which hopefully means it will be a dry-eyed drop off. Well, from your kids at least!

6. Benefits of teaching manners & etiquette at baby and toddler classes

We sometimes forget that something that is an afterthought for us hasn’t been taught to our children yet. Basic manners and understanding the correct time to speak or stay quiet would not even cross your mind.

But baby and toddler classes are a great opportunity to teach all the basics. Greetings, Turn-taking, sitting in an allocated spot and please’s/thank you’s all start to happen all around your child.

This encourages them to copy and do the same. Before you know it, they’ll be holding doors open for others and unnecessarily apologise as much as the rest of the UK.

7. Benefits of cleaning at baby & toddler classes

It’s more than likely that you have simply got used to cleaning up after your little one by now. But, we should definitely be encouraging them to pick up after themselves and clean up. It’s an important habit to enforce while your child is young so that they are ready when attending nursery for the first time.

Attending a toddler group might be just the thing to helping your child learn all the correct social skills that influence tidying up your own belongings and leaving a room as neat as possible.

8. Introduction to other cultures

Little ones are the least likely to judge another based on their background. But every child gets to an age where they will ask questions about that which is different. Baby classes are a great way to begin to introduce your little ones to different families of different backgrounds.

This might be to race, religion, or perhaps different family dynamics such as single parents & LGBTQ+ parents. This will lead to a hopefully judgement-free time when that dreaded first day of school finally arrives.

9. Social skills & the benefits of emotional understanding at toddler and baby classes

Toddler's benefiting from drawing and reading at a Toddler and baby class

This next point might feel like an obvious (but important!) one. Being surrounded by other parents and children may be one of the main reasons that you would book a class in the first place.

But establishing those crucial social skills will really help your toddler in the future. It’s important for your child to understand social cues and learn how to make friends. But by attending these classes you may also be introducing them to new concepts like empathy. If another child is upset, your toddler might start to question why that is and try to help make them feel better.

Maybe one of the reasons you’re slightly worried about your little one going to nursery is because you have a clingy tot? Well we have a list of tips to try and help your toddler overcome this, check them out here!

Maybe your child is nearly ready for heading off to nursery! But are you?

When you find a mum friend it’s a game changer. Mum friends make the good days better and the tough days easier. Mum friends are brilliant. Here’s why!

  • And dad friends too! Dads – replace with ‘Dad friends’ as appropriate!

1. You share your birth story before even finding out key details

The need to talk about your birth story is real. When you meet a mum friend chances are you’ll both share your birth story – warts and all – before even finding out what their partner is called or what they do or used to do for a living!

2. They’re there when nobody else is

If you’re up in the wee small hours you can feel like the only one up. But – chances are your mum friend is up too. They’re also there in the daytime when all your other friends are at work. And they’re there when you text or message to make you feel less alone.

3. They make the boring bits of parenting more bearable

Soft play, parks, walks…they’re all better if you have your mum friend with you! Even if you never get the chance to finish a conversation because you’re constantly interrupted by your kids! The day to day of parenting is more fun when you’ve got a mum friend by your side.

4. Mum friends never judge

They see you at your best but also at your worst. On those days when you’re exhausted and can barely cope. On those days when it’s all too much and you cry. On those days when you feel like the worst mother ever. But they never judge you. They give you tea and cake and hold your baby. And – if you need them to -they’ll hold you too. And make everything that little bit better

why mum friends are so brilliant

5. They’ll cheer you on when you need it most

If you’re down they’ll pick you up. If you’re struggling they’ll go out of their way to make each day a little easier. And they’ll always make you feel like a better parent even when you’re doubting yourself.

6. You can have the most honest (no holds barred) chats

You begin your friendship sharing intimate details about birth and – as you go on – you open up and share the vulnerable sides of you. Knowing your mum friend will listen and get it. From laughing together about the things that drive you mad. To opening up and crying about the harder bits that make you sad.

7. Mum friends stick by you even when you’re grumpy or tired

Because they get it! And they know there will be plenty of days when they’re a bit snappy and worn out too.

If you’re shy or feel a bit awkward in groups it can take a little time to find your tribe and make mum friends. We’ve put together some top tips to make going to a baby or toddler group less daunting.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. We think it takes a village to raise a mother too!

A recent post on our Facebook page revealed that too many parents are feeling desperate and ignored because their baby has reflux but they struggle to get a diagnosis and support. It can be heartbreaking if your baby cries unconsolably. If you ask for help and feel dismissed, it is harder still.

I asked for help but was ignored

“One midwife told me I just had an ‘irritable baby’ and that I was ‘tired’. Another health visitor over the telephone told us to try her back on normal formula and plough on through.”

These are the words from one mum in a BBC report on reflux diagnosis in babies.

Another reported a paediatrician suggesting her baby was crying all the time because she was “bored”.

Becky Palmer, who graduated from Aberystwyth Law School, and was inspired by her own experiences with baby reflux to give up her job as a solicitor and start a reflux and colic support group for parents, Colic SOS, commented in the BBC report: “Some health visitors are very much on board with it and will push GPs to help, but then you hear stories of parents really having to fight to be heard.”

Mum’s battles to get a reflux diagnosis

baby reflux - the struggle to get a diagnosis

We asked mums to share their own experiences and their replies are eye-opening.

Here are just a few of their stories:

“Silent reflux was something that I really think contributed to my PND. I barely had any sleep for months. My baby cried and screamed so much that it was exhausting.”

“I was told my babies reflux was a ‘laundry problem not a medical problem’. Every time I asked for help they asked me if I was a first time mum, which suggested they thought I was just fussing and somehow making it up. It was heart breaking seeing her in pain and so, so tiring”

“Being ignored and dismissed whenever we asked for help was such a cause of stress and anxiety. All we could do was keep on going back to the GP and insisting that my baby’s symptoms be reviewed to finally get a diagnosis and support”

The signs and symptoms of reflux in babies

How do you know if your baby might have reflux? Here are some of the signs to look out for. If you notice any and are worried, ask your GP about reflux and ask for advice and help:

  • Your baby might fuss over feeds or avoid feeding
  • They might bring up sick during or shortly after a feed
  • They may choke, cough or hiccup during feeds
  • You might notice their back arching and their head turning
  • Your baby might stretch out flat – this reduces pain. Instead of snuggling up to you they may stretch out flat after a feed
  • They might cry for long periods and be irritable during and after feeds
  • Their cries might sound hoarse
  • Your baby might be slow gaining weight
  • They might not be sick after feeds but you still might notice some of the symptoms above – this could be silent reflux

(Sources: NHS & La Leche League)

Persevere to get a reflux diagnosis

One of the things our post about reflux highlighted was the importance of getting a diagnosis for reflux. If your baby has any of the symptoms and signs above and if, in your gut, you just feel that something is not right then seek medical advice. And, if you feel like you are not being listened to – ask again!

How to help your baby if they have reflux

Your GP or health visitor will be able to advise you as to the best things to try to soothe your baby and help with relflux. This might include the best positions for feeding. Or giving shorter and more frequent feeds. If you find that nothing you have been advised is working then do go back to your GP for further help.

If you find yourself struggling with depression on anxiety then visit our PND page for advice and places to go to get help.

Disclaimer: We have researched and included robust sources to provide information in this article. However, we are not health or medical professionals and you should always seek medical advice if you are worried about your baby’s health.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a pregnancy condition that was propelled into the spotlight recently. When Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, suffered with in throughout all three of her pregnancies. However, it is something which is still largely misunderstood. And- wrongly – thought of by many as ‘bad morning sickness’.

For those that suffer with hyperemesis gravidarum it is much worse than ‘just a bit of morning sickness’. One mum has written an honest and candid Facebook post about what it feels like – not just physically, but emotionally.

Jo Stark is an exercise physiologist, who lives in Adelaide. She writes about how hyperemisis gravidarum affected her in her fourth pregnancy. Here is Jo’s story:

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) …. oh, that’s morning sickness right?

NO. Please NO. It is SO much more than ‘just a bit of morning sickness’. Today (May 15th 2021) is Hyperemesis Gravidarum awareness day so here’s a bit of my most recent brush with HG. HG is debilitating. HG is a potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease. It can cause malnutrition, dehydration and debility due to severe nausea and vomiting, and may cause long term health issues for mum and baby.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum – can take away the joy of being pregnant

HG is cruel in so many ways. It can take away the joy in being pregnant. It takes away from a beautiful pregnancy announcement to friends and family as you reach the second trimester milestone (I haven’t been able to hide any of my pregnancies beyond 7 weeks yet). It taints the little moments you think you’ll have, like being able to take pleasure in ‘eating for two’ and seeing that little baby bump growing. But mostly, for me at least, it takes away the bond you make with the little baby growing in you.

The worry that HG brings

In those first weeks you are emotionally charged with new found pregnancy hormones. But the vomiting and nausea are unrelenting and you’ve lost so much weight that you worry for your unborn child’s health. It’s easy to find yourself in a dark place mentally, wondering why you are putting your family through this (again).

The mum guilt starts even before your baby is born

You start feeling guilty… that you can’t even make it to the toilet to vomit cleanly and that your kids have to watch. That you physically can’t get yourself up off the floor to make your kids a sandwich to eat for lunch so you end up giving them a 3rd pack of chips for the morning while they watch their 2nd movie.

You begin to worry that you are not even being a decent mum to the kids you already have. So how on earth is it a good idea to even be considering bringing another one into the world?

And you feel for not being able to keep it together like so many other people manage to. Ending up in hospital needing IV fluids and multiple medications – but feeling guilty about the time spent away from family, so coming home and vomiting some more even though you really should have stayed in hospital to recover just a little bit more.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum - HG

How HG takes its toll

It sucks. And it doesn’t necessarily stop when you hit the magical second trimester. If you’re lucky you may get it under control with a concoction of medications and pick yourself up enough to get through with a smile. But the sheer exhaustion takes it toll. Physically. Emotionally.

Raising awareness of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

So what is the point of this post? Awareness. Understanding. The more people accept that HG is a severe medical condition that should be treated early and without judgement, the better off a women’s mental and physical health is likely to be.

The more people are aware of it, the less likely people are to hear of our symptoms and say “Have you tried ginger?” or “I found that eating regularly helped keep my nausea at bay”. Without wanting to sound rude, that’s just not helpful. If the 3 different drugs I’m taking from the hospital aren’t helping curb the vomiting, I’m not sure what the heck ginger is supposed to do for me (if I could even keep it down to begin with)?

Maybe if medical professionals were taught more about it and ways of managing it I wouldn’t have to hear things like “Well, you just need to eat something. You don’t want a dead baby do you?” from a nurse treating you in hospital, when I’m at my most vulnerable.

Support for those suffering

And lastly, support.

Be that village for the brave mummas suffering with HG who don’t want to ask for help because they already feel like they’re failing.

Ask how they are and what you can do to help or bring round some dinner (for the rest of the family to enjoy 😅).

I’m so lucky that I have some incredible support around me, but I know that there are so many others that are suffering in silence.

Let’s create the village it takes to raise these beautiful, tiny humans.

by Jo Stark

Where to go to find support

Pregnancy Sickness Support is a registered UK charity. They work to improve the care, support and treatment for those suffering with hyperemisis gravidarum and severe morning sickness. They have a wealth of information and advice on their website, as well as an online support forum and details for their helpline.

You can also get support and share your experiences in The Parent Hub – our friendly Facebook group for mums.

For support with post natal depression and anxiety see the PND section of our blog.

Disclaimer: We have researched and included robust sources to provide information in this article. However, we are not health or medical professionals and you should always seek medical advice if you are worried about you or your baby’s health.