Dancing Mama – Nutrition Day 2 BLW

No – BLW isn’t a delicious sandwich filling!  Baby Led Weaning has been hailed by child experts as an effective method of getting babies food savvy and ready to eat many types of flavours and textures.  I’ve got a few friends who recommended it, along with my cousin who is a community nursery nurse for an NHS health visiting team.

The deal is, instead of buying ready made baby food in jars or pouches, babies eat pretty much the same food as us, with their diet and nutritional dos and don’ts in mind first and foremost. I’m going to talk about cooking on a budget tomorrow, but this helps to keep food bills low.

Dancing Mama - Yes - I'm sharing Baby Food!

Dancing Mama – Yes – I’m sharing Baby Food!

Now I’m having a go at baby led weaning we’re more or less eating the same foods as Baby-O, meaning we mostly cooking everything from scratch, really cleanly, without salt. Much of the base of our food is veg and pulses. It feels good. And although I’m making most recipes up, I’ve found a few recipes that I can adapt and they still taste pretty good. A recent hit was Joe Wicks, Body Coach’s Lamb Curry!  Baby-O didn’t each too much of the lamb, but loved the sauce and veg, with coconut oil, curry paste (I found a low salt one and only put a small amount in her portion), red lentils to thicken the sauce, and ground cashew nuts instead of cream, as a few of the healthy tweaks Joe has made.  I do sometimes take Baby-O’s portion out before adding stronger flavours or some seasoning for us, but the base of most dishes can generally be shared by us all.

I’ve found Annabel Karmel’s website, where baby specific recipes can be added to, to make them a little more interesting for the adult palette. The Baby-Led Weaning book (Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, The Experiment, 2010) was a useful read to see how easy and straight forward BLW is, with minimal extra preparation, and I also grabbed the Ella’s Kitchen: A Tiny Taste of the First Foods Book (Hamlyn, 2015) free with the Boots Parenting Club, which gave a few more ideas for using basic ingredients, but experimenting to adapt for my meals too.

BLW has really helped me think about cooking from scratch, using fresh ingredients, largely veggie dishes as I’ve cut down on meat – and I’m definitely feeling the health benefits with more of a spring in my step!

 


Dancing Mama – Don’t Lose ‘Me’

Birthday Surprise – where we met…

This time last week I was on a dance floor. Sitting here on my sofa thinking about it, it’s not that crazy because that’s what people do.  That’s what I do…albeit I only had 1.5 hours to sweat it out before I had to pick up Baby-O from the babysitter, and the last real ‘Dancefloor Time’ I had was probably 9 months ago before baby arrived, but I suddenly had a realisation.  There is a danger I am becoming more ‘Mum’ than ‘Me’.  I’m losing Me!

Through no fault of my own other than natural circumstance I’m in the danger zone of letting go of the things that used to really matter to me.  I used to thrive for the moment when I would arrive at a club, take my coat off, say my hellos to the friends comprising of 80% or so of the room’s population, before starting to find that hedonistic state on the floor.  The music takes over my body, puts a big smile on my face, and before I know it I’ve sweated gallons for a good four or five hours, and not had a second thought of feeling tired or too hot. This is where I grow as a dancer, where I connect my body with my passion for music, importantly where I found my partner, and if it weren’t for this combination I may not have met Baby-O. That for me replaces any 5 mile run or boring workout at the gym by far. For that moment on the floor last Sunday, dancing with my partner, it reminded me of the carefree beings we were before Baby.

The sound system of this noisy club however is no environment for a young baby’s ears. I’d been meaning for months to make a concerted effort to prepare Baby-O for being looked after by someone other than me and her Dad so I could get back to the club.  I thought I’d not given her time to learn to fall asleep on her own with out me feeding her to sleep for example, so she can be looked after without her babysitter experiencing prolonged crying when she gets tired and doesn’t know how to comfort herself. I thought I should be leaving her for increasing periods of time so she would gradually get used to our absence. Finding the first moment to need to ask someone to look after baby for whatever reason – be it work or leisure – hadn’t been so important. We’d not had a strong external pressure, e.g. returning to work, to force us to practise.  As a result I’d not left her for more than the occasional hour or two. So last Sunday I finally trialled leaving her with my cousin.

My ‘Schoolmum’ error of forgetting the expressed milk was my first major fail, but we live and learn. I won’t forget it next time. My expert cousin (a nursery nurse/health visitor) put me at ease, took baby from my hands with a bit of Sunday roast to fulfil her in other ways and sent me on my way. I’ve then this weekend left Baby with my mum for 2 whole days whilst I’ve been on a Pilates Instructor course, and by all accounts it seems Baby-O didn’t miss me.  She had her expressed milk and her solid foods, she fell asleep without feeding from me, and that’s it. Pressure off!  Seems there wasn’t really much to worry about. Ok we’re very blessed with a lovely ‘low maintenance’ baby, but now I know we can comfortably leave Baby with our trusted babysitters, I can reinstate my identity as a person not just as a parent. I can get back to being ME!

I can confidently start getting the qualities back that made me who I was, or doing the things I loved before Baby, whilst still being Mum. My mental health and wellbeing is important too.  I’m going to be a little selfish, take a break from being mummy more often and make more time just for me or for me and my other half to re-kindle who we were pre-Baby-O.

Are we (Hu)Mum, or are we Dancer?  I’m both. 😉

Here’s a clip of me the last time on the dance floor at month 8 of my pregnancy, before Baby-O made her appearance!

 


Dancing Mama – Wear My Baby

I’ve been featured on Wear My Baby‘s blog this week, talking about using my baby carrier on the walks. Mine has been essential in helping me back to fitness.  Check us out by following the link here!

In celebration they are offering a discount code to anyone reading this blog.  See the image below for details.  Lucky us!

About Wear My Baby:

Wear My Baby makes it easy to carry your baby. We believe that learning how to carry your baby safely & comfortably is just as important as which carrier you buy.

That’s why we don’t just sell slings.

At our London Boutique you can try before you buy, hiring a sling for 2 weeks to make sure it’s right for you. We offer a range of Wear My Baby workshops each week at our Boutique, so you can get help using your current carrier or try out a range of new ones with expert guidance.

Want one-to-one support near you?

We have a team of experienced babywearing Consultants, offering one-to-one Consultations,  Sling Meet drop-in sessions and Pop Up events around London (Tooting, Beckenham & Greenwich) and the south east (Reading and Canterbury).

Follow them on Twitter and Insta @wearmybaby and on Facebook @wearmybaby.co.uk

 


Dancing Mama – Getting Back in the Game

2017 was a BIG year for me in many ways. I gave birth in June. I’ve had a baby (life-changing), and I’ve gone from having lots of endless energy pre-pregnancy to feeling like an 80 year old post pregnancy. Ok, so that’s nature, but here’s my reason for writing: I’m a dancer and dance teacher.

For someone so accustomed of jumping to life when I hear the beat, of throwing myself in the air and then directly flat out to the floor in a contemporary class without a thought, or to sweating it out through high octane jazz dance rehearsals, at 7 months post-natal, that still doesn’t feel so possible. I’ve decided to document my journey from physically wild ‘soloist’ to careful, conscientious vessel carrying a mini passenger, to now: the little one has disembarked, I’ve got her in tow and I am trying to get energy, motivation and routine back.

Where It Began

My first three months of pregnancy felt like a licence to slow down. Shouldn’t I be protecting my foetus from shock by ‘not over-doing it’? The advice from the midwife; if you’re used to a very physical fitness regime then continue until it doesn’t feel comfortable. Week 10, and it didn’t feel comfortable. So early on? Maaan! My effort in my usual high impact all over again body workout contemporary dance class felt half hearted as I became suddenly extremely aware of my core. It felt weak. Well not so much weak but again – like I needed to protect my centre from sudden movement or for example anything involving floor work, bending forward, plank or ‘cobra’ style action.

Christmas arrived…a sedantry stay with parents left me, although thoroughly chilled out, with cabin fever and guilt that I had done nothing for two weeks. Dragging my partner to Kew Gardens in an effort to walk off the Christmas pounds felt good, but nonetheless did not burn fat. They say the blood thickens during pregnancy and the need to keep circulation boosted is ever more important, so I was worried. My legs were restless and I was getting antsy.

So there I was. Jan 2017. 5 month countdown until baby arrives and it was going to get harder. I know; the cliche of new year, new me, new routine, New Years resolutions to try swimming regularly, blah-di-blah – obviously that didn’t last.  Baby-O arrived in June and time to myself was far from my grasp. It would just take some time and independence training for her to be looked after (for her and me!), so I could get to the swimming pool, a dance class, rehearsals or just go to a club dance event.

Me and Baby-O on our weekly walk

Me and Baby-O on our weekly walk

My Solution:

To start a walking ‘network’ to reintroduce my body back to fitness with baby by my side and, in the meantime, practise Baby-O independence, building up again to higher impact training!

I know I will be more motivated if I have a commitment to others, to help me stay focussed, I am going to create a forum over on The Love of Dance Facebook group, aimed at women like me, who are used to physical, powerful fitness regimes, who want to sustain as closely as possible their strength and healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, whilst protecting the growth and wellbeing of the delicate baby cargo, and then to try to recuperate once baby has arrived.

So what now?

In my experience as a dance teacher, alongside that of health and fitness experts, I want to investigate:

  • the most effective and safest fitness plan that can be practically maintained, with the understanding that this will need to adapt to a changing body;
  • different forms and methods of exercise in conjunction, of course, with a healthy diet and mind-set,
  • focussing also on mental and physical preparation for the birth;
  • and look at techniques to manage fitness time with and without baby by my side;
  • all working hand in hand with a holistic journey to a healthy pregnancy helping baby’s development,
  • and ultimately so I can get quickly back into shape post baby popping out!

About Me

I’m writing from the POV of a:

37 year old;

Previously full time office worker with no routine in addition to dance teaching;

I drive;

I have no routine that I can stick to (trust me, I’ve tried. I stick to anything I have a responsibility or incentive to stick to – e.g. Rehearsals for the incentive of chance of performance or where I have to answer to someone if I don’t turn up…or where I’ve paid for the course. Fickle right?!);

My aerobic training mostly used to happen at music events – mostly house music or jazz fusion events happening in the early weekend evenings. Most attendees go to these events to dance AND SWEAT IT OUT ON THE DANCEFLOOR, not to drink. Perfect for happy feel good vibes, getting a workout without really noticing, and doubly perfect if you’re preggers…but not so perfect for baby’s sensitive ears…so what’s next to get my workout fix?

 

Here we go!

First Wedding Dance Styles | Summary

First Dance Styles in a nutshell…
Here’s an easy reference summary of our first dance styles series for you to click on and review.
If you’d like to  have an initial conversation about your dance, or book a dance consultation with one of our experienced teachers.

Visit our Contact Us page for more information.

Happy First Dance planning!

We leave you with a clip of Caroline and Tim’s First dance – a Foxtrot…


First Wedding Dance Styles | Jive & Swing

Get the Wedding Party Started with a Swing

Swing dance styles are the more fun, vivacious dance styles to suit more up-tempo tracks – great first wedding dances to to get the party started.  There are many types of Swing Dance, including Lindy Hop, Charleston, Jive and Rock N Roll created in the 1920s-50s to accompany swing style jazz music.
The Love of Dance Jive Dance Party

Heres a throwback photo to one of our jive parties we taught at for a regular social dinner and dance!

Jive for example is classed as one of the international latin styles of dance.  It came from the US in the 1930s and has a bit of a retro vibe about it.  Your first dance song doesn’t have to be from these eras – here are some songs that we think perfectly fit Jive and Swing dance:
  • Happy – Pharrell
  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
  • Candy Man – Christine Aguilera
  • Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman
  • Do Your Thing – Basement Jaxx
Social Jive Dance basic steps consist of two slow steps on the spot and then a ‘quick quick’ rock back and forward. These styles don’t travel around a dance floor, although the size and energy of movements that can go towards the spins and sometimes jumps and lifts (for those feeling really adventurous!) can really eat up the space.  The steps should be light and bouncy and the upper body is free and responds to the usually jazzy and lively music with an air of showmanship and lots of smiles!
We’re not just about weddings. TLOD has also taught Jive and Swing dance parties for many occasions such as birthdays and commercial party events. Taster sessions in any dance style are a fun way to help guests get up to their feet and onto the dance floor. Your guests get mingling whilst learning some basic steps too – well we don’t want them feeling left out of the dancing action!

First Wedding Dance Styles | Salsa & Rumba

Bring Your Sauce to the Dancefloor with the Latino styles

Salsa
If you want to bring a bit of sauce to your first dance or maybe your first dance song has a bit of latino flavour, Salsa is a good style to throw some dynamic moves into your routine.  Originally from Cuba with African and Spanish influences, and developed further in South America and New York too, this dance style is sure to bring a bit of fiesta to your day.  A style of dance that can also transfer to many dance floors together, once you have some basics under your belts.  Salsa can be entirely spiced up with the full on latino hip swank, it can be fun and energetic, sensual, or tamed down according to your preference to become a stylish first dance.  There are many different types of Salsa, depending on the country or region of origin – e.g. Cuban or New York cross body style.  Your teacher may specialise in one, two or many styles thus influencing the footwork and floor patterns you will learn.
First Wedding Dance

Dan & Jo. Photo (c) Kirstin Prisk

Songs to suit Salsa:
  • If You Had My Love – Jennifer Lopez
  • Fly Me to The Moon – search the salsa version on Youtube
  • Suavamente – Elvis Crespo
  • Sway (There are many versions of the Dean Martin original.  Bublé does a cha-cha version. Have a search on Youtube for the many different versions.)
  • Have a listen to the Buena Vista Social Club album.
Quite often you may find Salsa covers of popular songs – worth a search through YouTube for the options!
 
Rumba
Just like Salsa, Rumba has flexibility to be as camped up Strictly Come Dancing/competition style or smoothed out to be a little more relaxed.  A little more intimate style than salsa, Rumba suits many modern popular and jazz standard songs on the 4/4 tempo, with a prolonged, slow first step and two percussive quick steps.  The song doesn’t necessarily have to have latino flavour.
Some of our favourite song examples that suit the Rumba are:
  • Can’t Take My Eyes off You – Andy Williams/Franki Valli
  • At Last – Etta James
  • The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
  • My Baby Just Cares for Me – Nina Simone
Here’s Amie and Alex’s First Dance using the Rumba footwork.  Watch out for the sustained first two beats to the bar.


First Wedding Dance Styles | Foxtrot

Over the coming week we’re releasing a First Wedding Dance style per day as part of our guide to helping to choose a style for you. Today we’re looking at Foxtrot!

Foxtrot is quite a common wedding dance style – a classic, romantic and smooth ballroom dance, couples can take their time and feel confident on the dance floor.  Some types of Foxtrot can be a little more up-tempo depending on the song.  Think ladies gliding around in their beautiful ball gowns, led by dapper gents in their coats and tails.  Classy.

Karina and Theo wanted to dance to John Legend’s All Of You.  They didn’t want anything too adventurous, just needing some dance lessons for some pointers on the floor.  The song is nice and relaxed at a gentle 4/4 tempo.  They had some basic social Slow Foxtrot dance lessons and a simple structured routine using just the basic steps and a few ‘generic partner moves’ (see below) that allowed them to move calmly around the floor, whilst having a little flourish of moves to offer those photo worthy moments; opening out toward the audience and finishing with a classic dip (groom leans bride backwards).  They looked so chilled during their routine which meant they could just really enjoy the moment. Watch Karina and Theo here:

Other songs to suit Foxtrot:
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Here Comes The Sun – Nina Simone
You & I (Nobody In The World) – John Legend
The Way you Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
Let There Be Love – Nat King Cole

 

Perfect First Wedding Dance Practice

Caroline & Tim’s First Wedding Dance (c) Jackson & Co Photography 2015


First Wedding Dances Styles

You know you want to learn a routine or have dance lessons for your First Wedding Dance, and may even have played out how the first dance might look in your heads.  The many viral wedding dance videos may have been inspiration for your daydreams – but which style of dance should you choose?  Over the coming week we’ll release a dance style per day as part of our guide to helping you decide.

A guide to choosing your First Wedding Dance Style

First Dance Styles

The Song

You probably know which song you’d like to dance to on your special day.  Without dance lessons or prior preparation, the gentle sway from side to side may be some couples’ natural go-to groove for the more traditional slow song, or for something more up tempo, a fun ‘we’re in the disco style’ bop might do.

For something a little more memorable however, to either give yourselves a bit of a confidence boost on the day, or to give your guests something to talk about, a little choreography (let’s call it a structured routine if that sounds scary), or dance lessons in a style that suits your song could be for you.

The Style

Your The Love Of Dance teacher is more likely to teach you the ‘social’ style of dance forms rather than the formal, more structured competition style.  You may see variations in footwork in comparison to styles of dance you see on tv as there are quite often different variations of each type, so don’t worry if your style doesn’t look exactly like you’ve seen on TV dance competitions etc.  We aim however to leave you with a good foundation in your style for you to carry with you forever more!

Style and Music in Harmony

The Love of Dance teachers will work with you and your choice of song/s to find a style of dance that works with the music.  I say either ‘song’ or ‘songs’, as you may either be stuck on which song of many to choose from, in which case a consultation with us will demonstrate and allow you to try a few dance styles to suss out what you feel comfortable with, or you may want a medley of songs, so your teacher may suggest you have a little mash-up of dance styles to create a really impressive routine!  Your teacher will also get to know you and help to create the bespoke routine unique to your personalities, abilities and initial visions you may have.

…but we don’t have a Song?

You may even have the style of dance in mind, but not a clue of a suitable song to go with your style.  We can advise here too, giving you some songs to listen to if need be. There are many websites giving First Dance Song inspiration – just have a google search and see what comes up.

Live Entertainment

You may have a live wedding band and you could talk to them about performing the first dance song for you.  Make sure you give them the same version of the song you’ve got in mind so they play the right arrangement as you are unlikely to get a rehearsal with them. The Love of Dance can also provide live music to suit a desired theme or musical taste, taking the hassle out of finding music yourselves. Visit our Event Entertainment Page for more info and contact us to discuss.

Discounts and Giveaway Competition!!

It’s founder Alison’s birthday on Saturday 19th August.  To celebrate TLOD is offering a 20% discount to anyone who books their First Dance Lessons, Hen Party or Event Entertainment before 30th September 2017 and mentions “TLOD Birthday”.
We’re also doing a competition. To be in with a chance of winning a first dance lesson follow these instructions:
  1. Follow The Love of Dance on on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram;
  2. Comment that you would like to enter (email alison@theloveofdance.co.uk if you don’t have social media);
  3. Tag or email the blog to anyone you know getting married (even if they’re not engaged yet!);
  4. Ask your friends to do the same; and
  5. We’ll announce the winner on Alison’s birthday!

This competition is running on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – so you may increase your chances of winning if you share through as many routes as possible!