Dear Father Hood: are baby classes important?
Full disclosure right up front: my wife and I are big fans of baby classes. Or to put it another way (that kind of resembles Craig David’s 7 Days), my son does Tumble Tots on Monday, goes to singing class on Tuesday, loves Jack Sports on Wednesday, Click IT on Thursday, swimming on Friday, football on Saturday and he chills on Sunday.
Critics have called this “a remarkably packed schedule” and “a lot of money to spend on a 2-year-old when you also send him to nursery for three sessions a week”, but while we hear what these naysayers are saying, we believe that signing our son up to all these baby classes is important for the following reasons.
1. He enjoys himself
And I don’t mean, “Yeah it was good, fine,” plays for a bit and then gets bored enjoys. I mean talks excitedly about each class beforehand, participates wholeheartedly when he gets there, wants to stay on when the class ends enjoys.
This is partly because he is an amazing kid, who hearts learning and studiously listens to instructions (except when they are issued by his parents, obvs). And partly because my wife and I go to great efforts to ensure that a class never grows stale.
Hold on. What does this mean? Well, essentially it means that when it is coming towards the end of each term, my wife and I sit down and discuss a) how he is performing and acting in each class b) whether each class is still pushing him and c) whether he is getting something from the class that he could not get from us or his grandparents.
If the answers are all or mainly positive, then the class will remain on the rota. And if they are all or mainly negative, then we will drop that class and replace it with another one that offers something slightly different (e.g. dance, tennis, gymnastics) and has been recommended by another mum or dad.
This might sound a little cut-throat, but the proof is in the pudding. Wait, no it’s not. It’s in my son’s smile.
2. He learns stuff
Right now, my son can talk, swim, kick a ball, hit a ball and climb far better than most kids his age. And while it would be wrong of me to take all the credit for this, that is exactly what I am going to do. Just kidding. I’m actually going to give credit where it is due. The reason he can do what he can do is down to me. Ha, got you. It’s actually down to his mum, his grandparents, his nursery and, last but not least, his baby classes.
3. Baby classes give my son a chance to meet other kids
On the downside, a decent percentage of these meetings end in tears due to an incident involving a bubble machine, fluffy farm animal or rudimentary musical instrument. On the upside: some of them end with a heart-melting hug, and all of them, whether good or bad, teach him something about socialising.
4. Baby classes give my wife and I an opportunity to meet other parents
I’ve got to be honest, with a bunch of good mates who have been by my side since school and a collection of great pals from living and working in London, I thought my days of trying to make new friends were over.
Then I had a kid and, um, “Hello, hello, guys is anybody out there?”
The answer was yes, but not when I was being driven to the outer edges of insanity in the middle of the night, or absolutely desperately for someone to pop over with their toddler, so he or she could occupy my kid and enable me to decompress for a few minutes.
Conclusion? My wife and I needed to find some mum and dad mates who lived nearby. We tried NCT, making conversation at the local play parks and Tinder (not really) with limited success, but baby classes were different.
Not only did they involve you sitting in a small circle that pretty much forced you to chat to the person next to you (classic conversation openers – “do you have any wipes?” “Sorry, my son’s just drooled on your sock,” “Been to any good soft plays recently?” and “How old is he/she?”), they also introduced you to a group of people who were basically living the same life as you.
Consequently numbers continue to be exchanged, play dates continue to be organised and stress levels continue to be significantly reduced.
5. They give parents a break
Let’s get one thing straight. Looking after a toddler is utterly exhausting. When you have a little person who can move fast, but doesn’t see cars, big drops, sockets or hot drinks as a danger, you simply cannot switch off for a second.
This is just about fine for a full day. Or two. But by the end of the third, you are pooped. Knackered. Zonked. Physically and mentally running on empty.
And this relates to baby classes because? It relates to them, because baby classes allow you to turn your brain onto low power mode, safe in the knowledge that for the next 30-45 minutes your kid is in a relatively safe environment, surrounded by people who can help if something goes wrong. And do you know how big a relief that is? It’s massive. Huge. Gigantic. Enormous.
So there you have it. Those are the reasons why I love baby classes and think they are extremely important. If you agree or disagree let me know by commenting below.
Until next time…