Dancing Mama – The Power Of Play

Then Power Of Play

The Power Of Play – What better depiction of play fight than with a pink teddy!

I love a play fight.  A spontaneous, innate wrestle to bundle each other, avoid or supply a tickle, or to try to get my own way.

Not a euphemism for anything kinky – honest; it’s not easy to quietly play fight anyway.  So all above board when the baby is awake (ahem!), and plus my fam is likely to read this so yeah…

I love the struggle to push and pull; the wrangle and tangle of limbs. The huff and the puff, the grunt and the scream, the force, the grapple to succeed. The calories burnt, the muscles engaged, the core strength to overturn the opposition.

As long as the opponent knows when to really stop of course – there are moments when they won’t give in.  A stronger force needs to know the rules, respect the signs when to relent, catch a breath, before Round Two begins.

Love the laughs, the moments where I can’t breathe either for laughing ’til I could burst, or being pinned down and unable to move. An extreme game of Twister, that extra level of tussle to intensify the workout, ok, a bruise here and there, but the feeling of euphoria at the end.

The bond the play fight forges.  A patch over an argumentative moment or blasting away the stresses of the day. You can’t beat a play fight to boost the happy feels and each one rolls out every time in its own unique way.

__________

I had to write about play fighting like this.  It’s something that always astounds me.  The restorative nature from a tense moment as two people, or maybe even parent and child, push the concept of play. It may not be for everyone, and there may not be a suitable (or worthy) opponent to hand. A recovering post-natal body should probably take it easy, and their opponent needs to be clear that ‘stop’, ‘ouch’, or the agreed equivalent is understood, as is the agreed level of force. And definitely no kicking, punching or biting allowed (just a nibble perhaps)! It’s such a natural instinct we see with other mammals – dogs, cats, monkeys – they play with each other frequently, but it’s something we tend to lose as human adults.  A full body work out of short bursts of intense play can surely burn serious calories. I don’t know the stats, but would be interested to know, and in addition to the laughter it’s a good all round mind and body workout.  Go on – find that inner child and find the Power Of Play!

Further reading!

This is hilarious – the How To guide to Play Fighting with your girlfriend.  Take note!

https://www.wikihow.com/Play-Fight-with-Your-Girlfriend

There’s even an organisation promoting mindful play fighting!

https://www.playfight.org

 

 


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 – Back To Basics

Taking Pilates Back to Basics

Not so relevant photo, just cute babies helping during a Pilates session!

Just had another massive realisation on my Pilates course today – many things I thought I knew about my body are verrrry different now in comparison to my pre and post-natal body. Whereas previously I would have considered myself having good bodily awareness, it took the Pilates instructors’ corrections today to tell me my body alignment has changed, my core is weaker and my proprioceptors have lost their compass as my ‘new’ body needs to be re-tuned.

It’s a fascinating concept, and possibly a great humbling  moment as I understand I now need to strip everything right back to basics and relearn correct postural alignment in different dynamic and static positions such as ‘quadruped’ (all fours) and even standing as my ribcage has slightly changed placement. Where before I may have entered into more advanced level fitness classes I’m being honest with myself, jumping off my horse from high and acknowledging there are deep core muscles that need re-training to get the same technique, and confidence, I had pre-pregnancy, before I attempt the more powerful advanced moves. I don’t see this as a backwards step. I actually see this as a valuable learning curve and in fact, a progression in my body as it enters a new phase of structure. I’m adapting to my new anatomical, physical and mental state.

I’m thinking like a lizard changes skin! I’m renewed and it’s a gift to me as I’m going to also be teaching beginners and may be able to recognise the point of view of others who may rarely workout and are not accustomed to physical activity, or indeed other athletes and dancers who are recovering themselves from pregnancy or injury. So back to the basics I go without regret but with vigour.

That said I’ve just bombed it up the long escalator to catch my train, got to the top without stopping and still managed to  engage my core and zip up my pelvic floor as I went… not entirely lost it. 😉

I heard a really relevant joke today:

– How many dancers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

– One to screw in the bulb and the rest to say they could have done it better.

…for now I’m the one reading the instructions for how to screw in the bulb.


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!