Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Making rainbows with baby girl

As odd as this seems, I've actually found motherhood the second time around lonelier than when I became a first time mum. Which sounds a bit ridiculous, because obviously I have two little people to look after, so I'm never actually alone, ever. I do find myself in an entirely different situation to when I had bub though.

The first time around, by complete coincidence, a handful of my friends all had babies within 3 months of each other. Bub had a ready made group of friends to play with and I still had some of my closest friends to socialise with each week. Four years later however our original babies have grown up and are either at school, or starting school next year, so many of my friends have gone back to work. Mother's group catch ups have also been petering out for months and don't really happen at all anymore. I'm also the only one who had another baby last year.

All of that combined meant the last twelve month's have been somewhat of a weird limbo land where our social life has literally been a whirlwind of GP, hospital and specialist appointments and outside of that my only adult socialisation has been Facebook messenger. The only interaction baby girl's had with other children is with her big sister, or making eye contact with random kids at the shopping centre or in waiting rooms. It's a stark contrast to her sister's first year of life which involved rhyme time, aqua classes, sensory classes, play dates... hell I left the house more to socialise in her first year than I ever did before kids.

And then there's the mum guilt. With two kids to look after I feel like baby girl hasn't had anywhere near as much one on one attention as her sister had as a baby. I'm pretty certain that's an unavoidable casualty of having multiple children though. There's two of them and one of me, so consequently there's much less time to devote to playing with each of them individually, someone's bound to miss out at some point. There's a part of me that can't help feeling bad about it though.

Now that her big sister's at kindy 2 days a week and our doctors appointments for her allergies are winding down, I've finally got a small window of opportunity to focus solely on her. So I made a conscious decision to find a baby class I could take her to, for both her sake and mine. I knew I wanted something to do with music as she loves anything that makes noise, and the perfect place happened to come up in a Facebook suggested post. I normally find suggested posts an annoying distraction during my scrolling, but in this case it proved fruitful because I discovered Making Rainbows and went on an internet search to find out more.


Making Rainbows music, movement and sensory play


WHAT IS MAKING RAINBOWS?


Making Rainbows is a Brisbane based group music program which involves parents participating with their children singing, dancing, using various props and playing instruments. The aim of the program is to help families form a deeper bond with their child and to stimulate brain development and learning through music, movement and sensory experiences. Making Rainbows offer baby classes {birth to approximately 15mths} and mixed age classes for children under 5. Each class involves structured, development based activities that each child can do {with their parents} in their own way, depending on their abilities. All instruments and other props used are provided and there's enough of them for each individual child so everyone can join in together at the same time.

Making Rainbows was founded by Bernadette Clegg, a mum of 3 and special school teacher, in 2015. Studies have shown there's a strong relationship between music and brain development and that exposure to music from a very young age increases abilities in other areas. Bernadette has witnessed the benefits of using music as a learning tool for children first hand throughout her teaching career and Making Rainbows classes are her way to share her passion with other parents in a fun and relaxed setting. Although the program started with one single class, there's now 43 different classes across 18 Queensland locations {including Toowoomba which is opening this term}.

I've always been an avid believer of learning through play and making sure my kids have many fun learning opportunities throughout the day. For us that usually included a lot of sensory play, but since having 2 kids my ability to keep up with this has diminished, so I was really excited to find a class that has development based activities that include both sensory experiences and music only 10 minutes from my houseWe've been attending the baby classes for a few weeks now and they've definitely lived up to my expectations. I'm unable to record a video of our actual class for privacy reasons, but the video below gives you a better insight into what a class looks like.




On the surface Making Rainbows may look like just a group of mums and babies having fun moving along to music, which we are, however there's also an educational focus woven throughout every aspect of each class. The song choices, props used and movements made are all very deliberate to create a multi sensory experience conducive to physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. The classes provide a mixture of visual, auditory and tactile sensory experiences using a combination of bright colours, different textured items, fun music and musical instruments to stimulate or calm down the babies throughout each session.


Each week the babies get to socialise with other children similar in age and also learn new skills. They're developing fine and gross motor skills and learning to self regulate through song actions like shaking, banging, bouncing, grasping, clapping and waving. Obviously how much they respond, understand and can physically do is dependent on their age, but it's great to expose them to sensory experiences and concepts from a young age regardless. Also all the activities/movements are all easily adjusted to suit the babies abilities, from those who can't move right through to those sitting and even crazy ones like mine who start walking at 10mths.

Each class starts with the welcome to music song {from the video above} so that the babies have some continuity and {eventually} remember the same actions each week. The rest of the songs and props used throughout the class vary each week, which keeps it exciting for the babies and us mums. We've used a range of props and instruments including drums, shakers, soft toys, sensory bottles, puppets, posting boxes and a myriad of other colourful objects. Without a doubt baby girl's favourite is the collection of shakers she gets on her mat each class. I really love that the babies all calm down under the rainbow parachute at the end of the class with bubbles. I'm always surprised my little pocket rocket child, who walks non stop at home, will lay still under the parachute the whole time. Although I also don't blame her, I wouldn't mind laying down there myself.


Since we've been attending the classes I've noticed baby girl is a lot more aware of music and wanting to bop along whenever she hears it. She's always loved noise, but apart from singing row, row, row your boat while she rocks on my lap, I've probably been guilty of not spending enough time doing nursery rhymes or dancing with her. She actively dances to music now when she hears it, especially when she thinks nobodies watching, and she's got quite a good little bum dance happening {it's the cutest thing to watch}. I've also noticed that she continues practicing the skills she learns during each lesson throughout the week, like banging everything on every surface to see what noise things make and waving to everything, including the cat and the ceiling fan.

It's been great for her to spend time with other babies close to her age, and even though I was anxious about meeting up with a group of strangers, it's been good for me spending time with other mums too. It's amazing what leaving the house and spending time with other adults, in the flesh, can do for your mental health. Another added bonus is that our teacher also takes photos of us throughout the class {if you agree to it} which has given me a chance to capture precious memories of us together, which I adore, because I'm normally the one behind the camera. In addition to all the learning benefits, at the heart of Making Rainbows there's a real emphasis on building relationships and connections, both bonding with your own child and with the other mums {or dads} from the community.


We've loved our classes so much we've already signed up for next term. If you've got a little groover and shaker at home, or want an excuse to get out of the house and have some fun, enrolments for Term 2, which starts mid April, are open now {be quick as some classes are already filling fast}.

Do/did you enjoy dancing to music with your kids too?

Toni x



Disclosure - I was provided Making Rainbows classes in exchange for an honest review on my blog. However, I was in the process of enrolling for Making Rainbows classes when the opportunity for review arose and we've already enrolled for Term 2. All opinions expressed are based on our experience at the classes. I did not receive payment for this review.

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