However, that is only relevant for informal meet ups.
For formal, Covid-safe classes, “baby playgroups” are now exempt. We have been lobbying the Government for months on this – so when we say this added to the official exempts to the 6 we were very happy to see it!
So, if you run or go to a formal baby or toddler group, the good news is that the 6 max doesn’t apply.
However in practice this is proving more difficult to achieve than you might think.
The issue is the lack of thought and guidelines for groups where children AND parents attend. There are currently no guidelines for this demographic. And therefore providers are having to sift through multiple guidelines aimed at different demographics to work out if they can continue.
Now the good news is that baby & toddler classes have been able to continue since July, and still can despite the new 6 person max rule as they are exempt. However, in practice this has been very difficult. With only about 5% having actually returned.
We are therefore continuing our petition, to call on the government to provide clear guidelines for classes and groups where children AND parents attend.
Please sign the petition below, and share it with your family and friends.
Emily will be talking with a Government minister soon (and spoke about this on the BBC News recently about all the confusion – not that they way they cut my sentence made it much clearer…), and the more people who sign this petition, the more likely she will be able to get help for all new parents and providers. Be it through guidance as we have put in the petition, or through excluding children from the 6 max like in Scotland and Wales. As this would reduce the confusion, and enable more commercial and community groups to return.
It’s been a long road to reopening for baby classes, and with this week’s announcements about maximums returning to 6 people, you are understandably worried about whether classes can return! 😫
The new regulations apply to the general public when socialising – but rest assured, properly run baby and toddler classes are operating as professional businesses, with high safety standards and your best interests at heart.
Everyone has been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to complete their covid-safety training, undertake full risk assessments, and work with local authorities to ensure classes are as safe as possible. ❤️
Please do be careful of some informal baby group meetups that are being organised via Whatsapp at the moment, as they may not have put in place the proper to operate safely.
Here are just a few of the examples of the things you can expect from returning classes:
⭐️markers or mats placed 2m apart or more ⭐️controlled entry / exit points ⭐️hand sanitisers on site ⭐️’one use only’ sanitised equipment – no sharing between families ⭐️appropriate use of face coverings (this might be ‘mask to mat’ in some settings so you can remove your mask once in position – face coverings may need to be kept on in others) ⭐️use of microphones and visors for class leaders, reducing the need to project voices ⭐️smaller class sizes, in larger venues
Some providers also are putting in place extra measures, like having temperature checks on the door, and allowing families to purchase their own kit that they can bring to each class.
As a community, we care hugely about the safety and wellbeing of parents and their children – and none of us have taken the decision to return to classes lightly. There are higher costs, and greater risks. This means you might find classes need to be booked in blocks, or that they are only transferrable to online classes if there is a local lockdown or the situation changes.
For classes that are coming back, their small biz owners have put in weeks, if not months of planning and hard work, just so that they can get back to you – all the families that have missed them – as soon, but as safely as possible! ❤️
Please support your local class providers – visit happity.co.uk to book your favourite classes.
We would also LOVE you to spread the word about Covid-safe classes by sharing our post on Instagram and Facebook.
Oh, and if you haven’t already signed the petition to get guidance for class providers so more can return ASAP (that’s another story!) please sign here.
When you heard “Hoop app closing” I’m sure you were sad 😥 but weren’t yet looking for classes to fill your week, help your baby develop, or make friends locally.
But now, judging by the 100,000 visits to Happity by parents last month, we’re guessing you might be looking for a baby or toddler class to get out of your four walls 🤗
So if you’ve found the Hoop app not working on your phone as you want to search desperately for something to get out and do, look no further…
Happity is here to help you with all your baby class needs! 😍
Thousands of parents are booking up in-person classes already through Happity – so make sure you grab your spot as classes are filling up fast!
🏃♀️ Find and book classes now at www.happity.co.uk to start creating your community today.
If you’re a business that runs classes, you can list them for FREE: www.happity.co.uk/add-activity
Please SHARE this post to let others know about us, and COMMENT below letting us know what classes you are looking for!
As a thank you we will enter you into a prize draw to WIN:
FIRST PRIZE: £50 of allbymama vouchers – so you can not only support our small business, and the small businesses of class providers you book with, but also mums running small retail businesses too! 🥰
SECOND PRIZE: 5 packets of Percy Pigs to scoff when your kids aren’t looking – or as we like to say “eating them to stop the kids eat too many” – we see it as our duty 🤣
Team Happity x
How To Win
It’s super easy to enter! Simply head over to the competition posts on our Facebook page or Instagram. Share the post (to a local mum group / on your story) and comment on it which classes you are looking for.
Competition closes midnight on Wednesday 30th September 2020.
The lucky winner will be announced on Thursday 1st October 2020 on our Facebook page. Terms and conditions apply.
Happity is a website that helps you find local baby and toddler classes. Fast. When it’s a race against naptime to escape the house, our handy filters help you find drop-ins and community-run groups that cost under £2. It’s all handily plotted on a map and you don’t need to download anything to use it!
As a team of parents, we get that it’s all-important to find something that’s fun for you too – so we’ve also added a filter to help you find baby-friendly activities that are really For Parents. Use this filter to find yoga, fitness, photography classes, life drawing and more. Our own founder Sara even attended a bring your baby coding course at the start of her journey building Happity.
Competition Terms & Conditions
The first prize is for one £50 allbymama voucher.
The second prize is for 5 packets of Percy Pigs!
UK entrants over 18 only. UK delivery only. The prize will not be valid for addresses outside of the UK.
Employees and agents of Happity and anyone professionally connected with the administration of the Competition are not permitted to enter.
To enter the competition, you must share and comment on the Facebook or Instagram post. Therefore there is a maximum of 2 entries per person – one for Facebook and one for Instagram.
Competition opens on when the post is live and closes at midnight on 30th Sept 2020.
The winners will be randomly selected out of all valid entries.
Competition winners will be notified directly on Facebook or Instagram on Thursday 1st Oct 2020. You must provide accurate contact details on notification within 72 hours (through a private message). Failure to respond to this message means an alternative winner will be selected from all valid entries received.
All entrants agree to their names and comments being used for promotional purposes. Copyright in all material submitted as entries rests with the promoter.
We will not pass on your personal details to any other organisation without your permission, except for the purpose of awarding the prize.
The Competition will be run and the Prize will be awarded at Happity’s sole discretion. Happity’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
We reserve the right to refuse entry into the Competition
We reserve the right to change the Competition rules and these Terms and Conditions from time to time. If we do so, we will always have the most up to date terms and conditions on this page
The Competition and these Terms and Conditions are governed by English Law. England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute or claim that arises out of or in connection with these Terms and Conditions.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You are providing your information to Happity and not to any of these platforms. By participating in this promotion you agree to a complete release of Facebook from any claims. Participation in this promotion is subject to the official rules.
The baby and toddler class sector is really struggling in a post-covid world – and so are parents with young children.
Whilst there’s government guidance for children’s classes and adult classes, there is no specific guidance for classes where adults and children attend together. Providers face conflicting and confusing advice, and practically impossible conditions to return.
Babies and toddlers are included in the group headcount, making many classes financially unviable – especially with all the additional costs of equipment and infection control, and longer changeover times between classes on top. We are also not permitted to sing in groups, even outdoors – whilst those in the performing arts can.
Our sector needs urgent attention from the government so that we can find ways to return safelyASAP. Businesses are closing.We need your help – urgently.
There are two things you can do right now:-
Write to your MP to highlight this problem – whether you are a parent, or a provider (see below for templates)
Support your favourite class providers – many of them are still depending on income from online classes. Find them here.
Happity, the children’s activity listings platform, has submitted an official petition requesting clear guidance from Government for the sector, as well as an intervention, such as a voucher scheme, to help kick start this industry as it returns – just as they are doing with others.
It’s clear that class prices will have to be higher in the sector, whilst Children’s Centres remain closed – many permanently. There will be many vulnerable families left without access to baby classes – which can be a lifeline in the early days of parenting.
Please don’t let these families suffer even more isolation than they have already.
Although we are also supporting a number of other petitions already circulating on Change.org, signatories must go through the official channel to get a response from MPs.
At 10,000 signatories they are required to respond. At 100,000 the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.
We have now hit 10,000 signatures (yay!) and are pushing for 100,000. Please sign and share the petition to show your support.
Although we have been speaking with the House of Commons and Government in a number of departments on other campaigns (such as an extension for maternity leave), and our platform represents thousands of class providers, we are still only one voice.
It needs many voices working together to create real change.
If you are a Class Provider who would like to follow updates and get community support please join our Facebook Group for activity providers.
We also have a separate group for parents interested in finding children’s classes and connecting with other local parents.
So please, if you are a provider or a parent, download the template letters and send them to your local MP below. Or write your own if you prefer. Feel free to update and make them relevant to you.
We are all struggling. Parents of small children. We’ve been on our own for months, juggling work and childcare/homeschooling. And with the summer holidays looming and the end of furlough for many as businesses open up, the question “what can I do to keep the kids quiet for an hour” becomes more important.
So when we heard that Hoop – What’s on for Families, a service which helped parents find and book classes for kids, was shutting down on 17th, many were concerned. Very concerned.
Luckily, Happity is here to step in.
Happity connects parents through baby & toddler classes. It is the only platform dedicated exclusively to baby and toddler classes, listing over 8,000 weekly classes, with over 200,000 parents trusting us to find and book classes last year.
Happity is run by two mums who experienced loneliness and post natal depression in new motherhood. Who spotted a glaring gap in technology for mothers, so one of them trained in tech, the other building awareness of maternal mental health to reduce the stigma surrounding it.
Introducing Sara and Emily!
Sara (on the right) has two kids, and is the techie who is passionate about flexible working for parents (their team of 4 has always worked via Zoom across the UK).
Emily (on the left) has one son and has a passion for helping parents maintain good mental wellness (you may have come across her #ShoutieSelfie campaign, or heard her share her experience in the media).
Like others, we have been hit hard during Covid. But thankfully as a smaller, organically grown business, we are not at the mercy of VC investors and have done what we can to manage costs, adapt business and access government support to keep afloat.
In just one weekend, as lockdown became imminent, the team pulled together to enable all providers to switch to online classes.
” Happity has been the backbone to so many online businesses of late (and in person ones before lockdown) and I (along with many others) continue to be eternally grateful xx”
“Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. What you and your team are doing is phenomenal. My business died overnight on Tuesday when all my venues closed and it was clear my classes couldn’t continue. I spent hours and hours trying to find a way to run classes remotely but simply couldnt get my head around how to do it and still make a small income. You have made this possible. Receiving my login on a Saturday night has been the best news that a pregnant lady with a chronic illness and a small business could receive in the middle of isolation in what is the strangest of times. Hopefully my little classes can now bring happiness to the homes they reach in this scary and uncertain time.“
They have also been supporting parents during this tricky time. In the last month, Emily has featured in The Sunday Times, The Guardian and on the BBC, campaigning for the rights of mums on maternity – and speaking out about the gender inequalities arising due to covid19. They have also been lobbying government of the need to support the children’s activity sector and how they have been affected just as much as the more visible shops, restaurants and cafes.
So we are all round good guys (sorry, girls – makes a change in tech eh!)
With in-person classes for 0-5yos still not being advised by the Government, online classes are key – and Happity believe in proper, interactive classes – ones with set times, small groups, and interaction between families and providers.
But we are ready for in-person classes to return – our system allowing parents to search just for in-person, just online, or both as they choose. As well as obviously searching via area, age and day.
If you want to hear about in-person classes as they return near to you, please sign up to Happity’s “What’s On” mailing list – you will be the first to know when classes are starting up in real life near you. You can sign up on our website, www.happity.co.uk via the form at the bottom.
And do tell your parent friends. Happity is a small, but highly effective company, which relies on word-of-mouth. So tell your friends up and down the country who are desperate for classes to restart – to get on to Happity now for fun online classes, and hopefully soon for in-person ones!
Looking for an alternative to the Hoop app for families? Happity is here to help!
As you may have heard, Hoop announced they are closing the app on 17th July. With such short notice, this has left many parents and providers in the lurch, not knowing where to turn to find and book classes.
There are many things to consider when choosing a new booking system – or marketing platform – for your classes. Whichever platform you choose, it will take some investment of your time even if the listings are free, so it’s important to check if it will meet your needs.
Happity is the only truly integrated platform available in the market. We offer a service that’s comparable to Hoop helping parents to find children’s classes, but we are specifically for the under-5s – and our philosophy is very different.
As a small independent business ourselves, we’ve grown organically by working in partnership with Happity class providers. We’ve always worked hard to do the right thing for small businesses.
We’ve got to where we are because class providers and parents recommend us to their friends and colleagues. Happity reached around 1 in 4 of new parents in London last year, and we are now accepting listings from all parts of the UK. Both the Evening Standard and The Independent picked us as one of their top parenting apps this year. 😊
Over 200,000 parents trust Happity already.
Happity is both a fully-featured booking system and a discovery platform for parents and is now UK-wide.
Unlike the Hoop app, Happity focuses specifically on supporting classes for bumps, babies & toddlers where there’s a real social and community need. We help people through the difficult days of early parenthood, and understand the challenges that face class providers in this sector.
You can meet other small biz owners like you from all over the country in our online Facebook community for free, and join in with our wider campaigns to support mums – and the official government petition to secure clear guidelines for the under-5s sector.
Happity is tailor made for the baby and toddler sector – from sibling tickets, to pro-rated term tickets, and powerful search and mapping features so parents can find exactly the right class for them.
Happity is here to help you grow your business with less effort, and more time for your family.
It’s free to register.
… and only 3% commission on bookings – *inclusive* of VAT.
With all the features you’d expect of your main booking system, Happity helps you fill classes and save time.
We encourage parents to commit to classes longer-term, because we believe it supports their wellbeing, children, and local communities – it’s also better for your business too. Happity makes it easy to manage all the ticket types you need, and it’s affordable to offer block or term tickets too. You can also easily view your sales reports, registers, and even share them with external teacher, so you don’t have to worry about juggling spaces with another booking system. And when you’re not running classes, you don’t pay anything.
But you don’t have to take bookings if you don’t want to!
Many class providers in the under-5s sector prefer to run on a drop-in basis (at least pre-covid), or are part of a larger franchise with it’s own booking system – and that’s OK with us. We’ve designed our model to support you too. 🙂
For classes which need an extra boost now and then, we offer a marketing service that runs like Google Ads on a pay as you go basis. It gets you at the top of Happity search results and into newsletters, and you can use it even if you’re not taking bookings through us.
For charities, and CICs, we also offer a special FREE membership package. Just let us know your details when you register!
“Listed with Happity and I’ve had 5 bookings in less than 24 hours! Absolutely thrilled!” – Claire, Tappy Toes
“They are really good. Our area manager did months of research before deciding on them and we can’t fault them. Any feedback we offer them too, they always act on.” – Happy Hands Club
“Happity team were amazing in helping class providers transition online. They offered technical support as well as lots of other practical advice. I wouldn’t go virtual with Latino Bambino if it wasn’t for them rooting for us and families. Very grateful to Happity!” – Urska, Latino Bambino
“Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.What you and your team are doing is phenomenal.” – Victoria, We Are Footsteps
“It’s been challenging and emotional for many. It could, however have been a much harder journey without you and your wonderful team.” – Nichola, Franchise owner
Happity might ‘just’ be another booking and marketing platform for baby & toddler classes, but we are more than that too. Come join us on our mission to make life better for new parents and small business owners and let’s do this together. 😊
A childhood friend of mine, Emma, who is a wife, mumma, dramatherapist and home-maker has created an amazing A-Z of ideas to keep littlies entertained during lockdown. She has been posting them on her personal Facebook but knowing how much we all need inspiration I asked if she would be happy for us to share them as posts and a blog and she was more than happy to!
She describes this A-Z as “finding was to keep my little ones (and myself) entertained during lockdown; currently through creating an alphabet themed activity box for my daughter to find each morning.”
We are posting a new letters on our Instagram and Facebook throughout the week, which then get added here as they are posted!
I think you’ll agree with us, that they are amazing inspiration and she has done a great job!
If you try any of them out, please do tag us on Instagram (@happity.co.uk) and we will share! We would love to see you and your littlies having a great time! Do tag Emma too (@nesting.in.hope)!
Over to Emma!
Hi I’m Emma; Wife, Mumma of two and Dramatherapist.
As a Dramatherapist (creative form of psychotherapy) I work primarily with children, adolescents and their families, specialising in trauma, attachment and emotional/behavioural issues.
I’ve been on maternity leave for the past year and as lockdown set in and my own mum became poorly with Covid19 I found motivation levels to parent took a dip. Creating a daily alphabet themed activity box for my daughter to find each morning helped install a spark back into parenting and made life at home easier. I hope some of these ideas help you too.
1) Choose activities that you want to do so you’re excited to do it with your child. Some parents love arts and crafts, for others getting messy is a parenting nightmare. Make it fit you and your family.
2) If your child chooses to disengage in an activity you spent time preparing try doing it yourself, I promise it will leave you feeling less downhearted, give you a boost and might even convince your little one it’s more fun than they originally thought.
A is for…
Painting APPLES with icing & decorating them with sprinkles ready for snack time, doing APPLE paint printing, having a paper AEROPLANE competition in the garden whilst dressed up as one ourselves, making an AMBULANCE to play in & saving lots of peoples lives (including a toy helicopter and a duck doorstop) and going on an ANT hunt on our daily walk, which started with one very ANGRY toddler who had been refused an icecream & ended with an ANNOYED mum as the toddler then woke the baby!
B is for…
Celebrating my goddaughter’s BIRTHDAY over Zoom, painting with BUBBLE-wrap, making BUNNY shaped BISCUITS & a BIRD feeder out of a coconut & (my favourite of the week) an indoor BEAR Hunt using the story as inspiration for some imaginative and sensory role play.
C is for…
Changing the names of a game to ‘what’s the time Mr CROCODILE’, writing/posting a CARD to someone we miss, growing CRESS in emotion themed egg cups we had painted, making a paper chain CATERPILLAR, pretending to build a CASTLE to live in & then packing our bag to go pretend CAMPING.
D is for …
Helping Mummy lead a DRAMATHERAPY Zoom session, DANCE competitions, DRAGON craft, playing DOCTORS with teddies, hiding toy dinosaurs around the house for a DINOSAUR hunt & squeezing in DAISY chain making once the rain stopped.
@nesting.in.hope #dailyABCbox #alphabetbox
E is for…
ELEPHANT hand prints, bringing EASTER back for EGG hunts in the garden & chocolate nest making, small world play using her EMERGENCY vehicles & dressing up as ELSA to dance, sing and watch Frozen.
F is for…
FIREMAN and FAIRY-themed obstacle courses, FISHING games, making a FROG and FOX out of paper plates and collecting FLOWERS on our walk to make ‘nature FACES’ back at home.
G is for…
Making a GUITAR out of cardboxes, sticking GOOGLEY eyes to objects to make them come to life and eating popcorn in front of The GREATEST SHOWMAN
H is for…
Pretend HORSE showjumping in the garden, playing HAIRDRESSERS, drawing around our arms to send a HUG to someone in the post and creating a HOPSCOTCH obstacle course with chalk for our neighbourhood to have some silly fun with.
I is for…
Rescuing a toy duck from a block of ICE, playing ICECREAM shops and then making some to eat from a frozen banana, playing the party game of Musical ISLANDS and ICING gingerbread men.
J is for…
Using a pillowcase for a JUMPING sack race, decorating a JEWELLERY box, making JELLYFISH out of egg cartons, setting strawberry-shaped JELLIES to eat (which I only remembered were still in the fridge when feeding Hudson at 2am!) and acting out the story of JACK and the Beanstalk (where Lila decided we had to socially distance ourselves from the giant because “all the people getting poorly” 🤣 found a fire in the castle that Jack had to put out and then cut the giant – not the beanstalk – up at the end; vicious!)
K is for…
Making a KING crown and then a KITE which we attempted to fly in a local field, KISSING a piece of paper with lipstick on (Daddy ‘enjoyed’ getting involved too), changing the song name of ‘hop little bunny’ to be a KANGAROO instead and helping mummy clean the KITCHEN – win win!
L is for…
Drinking homemade LEMONADE, hiding the letters of LILA’s name around the house for her to find and then hang up in order on a washing line, making LADYBIRD cupcakes, playing LORRY ‘Pooh Sticks’ (waving at them as they travel under a bridge from one side to the other) and collecting LEAVES on our way home to put in order from LITTLEST to LARGEST.
M is for…
Playing the MEMORY tray game (guessing which object is missing), making MUD hot chocolate, paint-printing using silver foil to create a MOON and finishing the week with an obstacle course that featured waving a MAGIC wand at MONSTERS in a cave, feeding a baby MEDICINE and pretending to be a MONKEY and a MOUSE 🤦♀️🤣)
N is for…
N is for going on a NATURE hunt around the garden, making play-dough NATURE bird NESTS, making animal NOSES out of egg cups and paper plates, dressing up to play NURSES, making and eating chocolate Easter NESTS, opening our own NAIL salon and playing pin the NOSE on the snowman.
To see the amazing activity ideas hot off the press sign up to our newsletter (scroll to bottom right to input your email) which will also let you know of any classes local to you!
Our resident Clinical Psychologist, Dr Zara Rahemtulla, has some advice on how to support our kids transitioning back to nursery and school settings.
As the government announces the plans for children to go back to their childcare or educational setting, it is important that parents feel confident in supporting their child with this transition. It is a transition that will feel different for every child and parent, and it is important to remember that none of us have been here before, so it is always best to expect the unexpected in terms of ours and our child’s reactions.
Through my experience of supporting families and children, I have created some top tips below for parents to help manage this uncertain transition:
1. Start talking to your child about their nursery or school and their keyworker / key teachers NOW
Young children (Under 5’s) don’t have a fully developed ‘sense of time’, so weeks and months can feel long and they will need time to remember their old settings and relationships. Start to talk to them about nursery/school – e.g. what do they remember, who are they looking forward to seeing, look at photos online of their setting/key worker/teachers. If possible, arrange a Facetime Playdate with one or two of your children’s friends before going back. It is also useful to do the journey to nursery/school a few times to re-familiarise your child with the routine. Create a ‘countdown to nursery/school’ calendar for your child so they have something visual to help them prepare.
A top tip when talking to your child about going back is to stay calm, positive and excited.
2. Be prepared to listen to your child’s worries about going back
It is possible that your child may feel confused, sad, worried or angry about the transition back to their setting. Depending on their age, some children might worry about leaving their parent(s), be confused about why they have to go back and/or feel anxious about the virus. Your child will show you their feelings in various ways (again, age depending) so be on the lookout for: increase in tantrums or bigger tantrums, your child becoming tearful in situations they usually wouldn’t, being more withdrawn or an increase in aggressive behaviours. The best way to support your child with these reactions is to accept them, listen to them and not judge them.
It is important to remember that all of these reactions are normal and to be expected, and for most children, temporary.
3. See if your child can have contact with their keyworker / key teacher before they go back
Before they reopen, it might be possible for your child to reconnect with their keyworker via telephone, video call, email or letter. For example, you could ask whether your toddler could have a virtual ‘hello’, sing a nursery rhyme or read a story with their keyworker using an online platform. If you child is school age, perhaps you could email pictures of activities/learning to their key teacher and they can receive a response. This kind of contact reassures the child that their key person still exists, remembers them and is looking forward to seeing them again.
If your child is getting a new keyworker or teacher, they could also connect with them in these ways.
4. Arrange to have a catch up phone call with your child’s key person
In addition to your child having contact with their key person, I would recommend that parents also touch base with them before your child starts back. It is helpful to talk through any worries or questions you might have about the transition; this will help you feel more at ease about the process and support your child. It is also a good idea to talk to the keyworker about how your child has experienced lock down – if there have been any particular difficulties for your child, any behaviours you are worried about or if they have lost anybody close to them during this time.
Some nurseries may be offering a second settling in period, do ask your nursery about this option if you think your child might benefit from a gradual re-integration.
5. Plan a treat for everyone after the first day/first weekend is over!
Make sure you celebrate the fact that you have all persevered and worked hard to make the return to nursery/school as manageable and positive as possible. Praise your children for working hard, for being brave and not giving up… And then praise yourself even more! Take a moment at the end of the day/week to tell yourself you have accomplished something that no parent has ever had to do before and you are proud of yourself for it.
Most children will enjoy the return to nursery or school; the structure, routine, learning and social interactions will be welcoming. However, if you feel that either yourself or your child needs more support with this transition or you have concerns about your child’s behaviours, please get in contact – we are psychologists specialising in child and parent mental health and can support in various ways. Our contact details, and available slots to book can be found on here.
Dr Zara Rahemtulla Clinical Psychologist – Specialist in parent-child mental health
Choose from a huge variety of classes to support Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020) – for just a £1 donation!
This Mental Health Awareness Week, you can join live interactive #HappityTogether classes for just £1. With everything from baby signing to West-end stars, dancing, French and mum and baby yoga – we even have Lucy Sparkles live from Singapore – you’re sure to find something great! See below for a preview of what’s on, or search happity.co.uk for the full timetable.
We recently had the honour of representing parents “at” the House of Commons, in response to a petition signed by over 200,000 of you, about extending maternity leave due to Covid-19.
They had a record-breaking level of engagement for this petition on social media – showing just how much parents are being affected right now. Our own survey highlighted a wide variety of issues, particularly relating to the mental health of parents – with 78% saying their lockdown had had a significantly negative impact. This is really just the tip of the iceberg.
Now, more than ever, mental health matters.
We all know how important in-person baby and toddler classes are in helping us get through day by day, but today, in a socially distanced environment, they sadly aren’t available to us right now.
Whilst an online class can never be quite as good as being able to hug and sing together in real life, our community of incredible class providers has come together – and we are doing our level best to bring the benefits of baby classes to your very own living room!
Try a live interactive online class to boost wellbeing
Those of you who have tried live interactive online classes, talked about the positive mental health benefits – with 63% saying these were better than any other type of online class (like downloads or live Facebook broadcasts).
Held in a small group, they tend to be more engaging for toddlers who respond to hearing their name (and love to show off!) and the can help you feel more connected as a parent – especially if it’s with a class provider you’ve met before.
Many of you also talked about some of the more unexpected benefits – such as helping to maintain a daily schedule, giving you something to do with extended family members, or even creating the motivation you need to get dressed each day!
What’s coming up…?
#HappityTogether is all about trying out this new interactive format and having a great time together. Whether it’s meeting new people in the class, inviting your friends to joining in with you, or getting your wider family on facetime to watch your family having a great time. Everything is better together.
And with the donations going to PANDAS Foundation you can be helping your family’s mental wellness, whilst supporting the great work they do to help others.
We’ll be releasing timetables day by day during the week – so follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see the timetables, and we will also send out “what’s on” emails each evening. You can sign up for our newsletter here.
So pick a class, see if some friends want to join, or get the grandparents on facetime to join in too (they love it – we do it often!)
For just a £1 donation to Pandas you’ll be helping your families mental health, and others through their great work!
Hope to see you at some classes and dance around together!
The #HappityTogether Collective x
Here are just some of the great #HappityTogether classes you can find and book on happity.co.uk. Search the site for the full timetable details.
On the 7th of May I had the honour of talking “at” the House of Commons about a petition signed by over 200,000 parents about maternity leave extending by 3 months during Covid. You can watch the full session here.
In preparation for the meeting we sent out a survey to gauge the views of parents across the UK. And the response was huge – thank you for your input!
The views regarding extending maternity leave vary widely. 82% wanting maternity leave extended to enable bonding with wider family, building peer support networks, and attending baby classes to help their child develop.
Although interestingly for those with a bump, or already back at work only 66% agreed, compared to 87% for those currently on mat leave. Those already back at work hugely stressed the importance of mental health support (over double the amount felt this was of importance) – having already themselves faced that transition back to work.
But others see this an economic cost society can ill afford at this time. That new parents need to accept the situation they find themselves in, with everyone paying the price in a different way.
For me the key questions to ask are, how is Covid affecting children’s development, what impact is it having on the mental health or parents, and hence their children, and what can we be doing at this unprecedented time to help.
1)Covid is having a detrimental impact on children’s development
A lack of bonding and learning opportunitiesare the main developmental issue facing babies and pre-schoolers at the moment. They are not doing normal life – going to the shops, meeting family and friends, or if they have siblings, they don’t even have mums undivided attention whilst older siblings are at school. Babies learn so much from faces and the environment, and right now there is no variation.
Worryingly a few parents in the survey said their child was now scared seeing the faces / hearing the voices of people outside their immediate family. Given babies learn from faces this is really worrying.
2)Lockdown is having a hugely negative impact on maternal mental health, and in turn, childrens’ mental health.
78% of the parents we surveyed felt lockdown had had significantly negative effects on their mental health.
There are currently two main reasons for this. Firstly parents are lacking any support systems – from wider family, friends and peers. And secondly many parents are finding themselves in the impossible situation of working full-time whilst homeschooling or caring full-time.
One parent said:
“It has pushed us to the brink. We have had to work almost as if it was BAU but looking after our son full time too. This is a crazy demand that is putting too much strains on parents and families and children are paying the price.”
And this is affecting children’s mental health as they are anxious due to their parents being highly stressed, often passing them back and forth between meetings. Parents who have no time for a break, no time to even talk to one-another, possibly with huge financial strains. Poor interactions are known to negatively effect children throughout their lifetime. So something needs to be done, and now.
3) The Government needs to support the mental health of parents, and the development of babies
Whilst it is imperative the government works out how to support parents – whether they are coming off maternity leave, or beyond that point – who are trying to work and look after their children at this tricky time, I feel we need to do something now that both helps parent’s mental wellbeing, and replicates the bonding, developmental and learning experiences that babies are missing, being unable to explore the world outside their four walls.
Whilst many normal life experience can’t be had now, adults have become adept at replicating interactions through zoom chats and phone calls. We need to replicate this for our children. We don’t just sit watching TV all day to feel like we have interacted, so we can expect children to develop social skills watching youtube?
4)Attending baby classes was the top thing parents felt that they needed right now to help maintain their mental wellness
One parent said:
“The importance of baby groups & activities on parental mental health cannot be underestimated – and poor mental health can have a negative effect on bonding with your baby. All of the advice on how to deal with feeling low / anxious post natally is around socialising, finding your “tribe” to find solidarity with other parents, getting outside, exercising, having someone else look after the baby for a short time to have some “me time” – all of which is difficult at the present time (especially for those with other children)”
And they are of course fundamental in helping children to develop. Additionally they will help (as best as we can right now), to socialise children if they do need to head to an unfamiliar nursery for their parent to start working.
As an organisation with mental wellness of parents at the core of its mission, we at Happity have worked with class providers to develop an interative class format that is the next best alternative to in-person classes.
Happity interactive classes happen live, with a small number of families all able to see each other to participate in a class. Families are encouraged to stick with a regular timeslot and get to know other participants in their class, or invite friends to join with them.
Once parents try these interactive classes, an overwhelming majority find them to be hugely beneficial and of much more valuable than the free options they are currently being promoted. But until they try them they don’t understand the difference of a truly interactive class, or don’t understand the benefits for their families mental health.
One parent said:
“The interactive classes have been the most helpful as we’ve had opportunities to talk with other mums and feel less alone. We can also consult about baby behaviour and feel reassured that our children are developing in the realms of normal compared to other babies.”
So, to help parents in trying out interactive classes we are leading a #HappityTogether charity week for Mental Health Week (wc 18th May) where many classes will cost just £1, and proceeds donated to PANDAS – the UK’s largest parental mental health charity. The classes will be up to book soon at www.happity.co.uk, and we will share more information on this soon.
5) Other areas parents wanted the government to help were:
Mental Health support for parents and children now and after covid (27%)
Interactive classes funded by the government (12%)
Opening of classes/parks ASAP for families only (10%)
Reopening of schools/nurseries ASAP (10%)
Video calls with Midwives/Health Visitors (5%)
6) What’s next?
I have submitted a paper to the Government regarding supporting parents with the mental health, and promoting (or even funding) the provision of interactive classes as these are most beneficial for parents and children alike.
We have also created another survey, focusing more on interactive classes as this is what they would like us to input on next. Please find the survey here and pass onto parents to fill out and have their say when we submit a proposal to Government.
These solutions will support parents’ mental health and support the development of babies and children. This will reduce the need for huge amounts of mental support now and for the years, if not decades to come. The cost of perinatel mental health is estimated to be £8.1bn per year per cohort. The figure for this cohort of babies is going to be significantly higher. And with 70% of this cost attributed not to the mother’s recovering, but to supporting their child throughout their life, this is something we need to investigate financially if not morally.
Mothers and children might seem a luxury to invest in given the challenges our economy and services face. But enabling this major section of society to function effectively will have a large effect on society, the economy, and services more widely than just the narrow experience of mums and babies in the short term.