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Family, Fitness

What to Expect at a Babywearing Dance Class

If you have been watching YouTube over the last year, you might have seen viral videos of new parents dancing around wearing their babies like this one. The parents were taking a group exercise class called Groovearoo in San Diego, and they are having a blast. When I saw it, I was 7 months pregnant and excited to try a class in our city. But when baby came, I quickly learned that  we didn’t have any local babywearing classes.

I wish I could say that I decided right then and there to start teaching a babywearing dance class. I used to teach Zumba. I had a baby. Heck, I had four baby carriers. But the thought never crossed my mind. I was a new mom trying to make it through each day.

Then when I was taking a baby and me yoga class last summer, we all started chatting about the YouTube videos of babywearing dancers and lamenting the fact that we didn’t have a local class.

“You know, you really should teach that,” one mom said to me.

Wow. Me? Yeah. Hmmm…Could I? I guess I had the qualifications. I had a baby to dance with, and I started to realize that it really was something I could do. It would just take research and some practice.

And that is how I began teaching a babywearing dance class last fall.

If you are new to babywearing dance, below are some tips based on my experience to help you and your baby have a positive dance experience and actually want to come back again and again.

So what is babywearing dance class all about? 

Parents come to class with their babies, diaper bag (super important) and a baby carrier that provides proper support for baby as well as comfort for Mom or Dad (you are dancing after all).

Although I wore my little one last fall when I taught, most instructors are not wearing babies. The job of the instructor is to keep you both safe while leading you through a low impact workout that allows you to have fun. Please check in with your instructor if you are new to their babywearing dance class. They can check the fit of your carrier and provide you with any information you need to have a fun and safe experience in their class.

 

What kind of carrier should I use? 

Seriously, do not scrimp on a carrier with solid support. And quadruple check that your baby fits properly inside. You don’t want your baby falling out or chaffing against you during class. And absolutely no slings.

Ergo carriers are great. The BabyBjorn One Air is another model that provides back support and is breathable. I have seen multiple brands and styles that have worked very well. It really is all about making sure that the carrier is safe for the baby and is comfortable for you as you dance.

How long are classes?

Classes are usually 30 minutes to an hour and allow you multiple breaks to cool off, check on baby, change diapers, feed, etc. And if you decide you have had enough, there is no shame in leaving early. We have all been there. Sometimes you need to call it a day to ensure you want to come back for the next class.

What else should I do to ensure I’m dancing safely? 

Dancing by yourself is going to make you sweat. Now strap on a 10-15 lb. heater to the front of your body. Sweat will be poring into your eyes, and quickly. And imagine how baby feels as sweat rains down upon them. You need to take many more breaks than you would if you were working out solo to check on baby’s temperature and make sure you don’t overheat.

Also, this is not the time for high impact jumps or complicated moves. You can’t swing your arms like you normally can. If you do, then you risk smacking your baby in the face. It’s best to just not.

A beautiful visual of parent-tot bonding, right? 

It really is the most beautiful visual at the beginning of class before you begin to sweat. Remember, your baby is a little heater. And if you take breaks and keep it low impact, then you both should feel great by the end.

I am an instructor. How do I learn to teach a babywearing class? And should I teach while wearing my baby?

Currently the only babywearing certification I know of is through Groovearoo. Depending on your exercise background, you may be able to design a class on your own. Be very careful if you choose the DIY option. Do your research, err on the side of caution and ask your participants to sign waivers (which is a good practice in general).

I taught while wearing my 6-month-old daughter. I knew going into it that it would be challenging, but I wanted the experience. After a couple of classes, I realized if my baby wasn’t happy, the tone of the class would dissolve quickly. So I had someone standing by to take her in case there were problems. The extra logistics made wearing my baby while teaching unsustainable. Although we had fun, I wouldn’t recommend wearing your own baby while teaching on a regular basis. Dance with your baby at home or as a participant in another instructor’s class. When you are teaching you need to focus on your participants. In fact, you could wear a baby doll in a carrier if you want to model the movements and carrier fit without the risk of a baby meltdown. 🙂

I hope these tips are helpful. Please Contact Me if you have individual questions or feel free to leave a comment below.

Family, Simplify

Frustrated Shopping? Your Guide to Experiential Gift Giving

Maybe you are still stuck trying to think of the perfect gift for your favorite traveller who hasn’t quite settled down or your best friend who is in full declutter mode. Maybe you want to give to someone that has waaaay too much stuff. What do you do?

Consider an experiential gift

Gifts of experience can be the answer to the question “What do I buy for someone who has everything?” or “What do I buy for my minimalist family member?” Perhaps you decide to gift them an activity or help them out with your expertise.

For example, my hubby is pretty handy, and he is always helping out my Mom with projects around her house. I think she appreciates his help much more than anything he can buy since she can no longer do the work herself.

What other kinds of experience gifts can you give?

For the kids:

  • Tickets to the local zoo
  • Tickets to a children’s museum (if you have one in your area)
  • Tickets to ride a train (really, any train. I have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love a train ride)
  • Make them a certificate valid for a special outing to their favorite park with you.
  • Take them out for their favorite meal
  • Give them a day of yes. Basically, if they want to do something, then you do it. (I read about this awhile back, and the kids loved it. Let the recipient know they have to keep the requests within reason.)
  • Plan a family outing to one of their favorite places.
  • Take them to the movies or drive in

Frustrated Shopping? Check out our Guide to Gifts of Experience

For the bigger kids (aka adults):

  • Make them a meal or give them a gift card to a favorite restaurant.
  • For active peeps: Book a fun workout of their choice or one they have wanted to try. Better yet, do it together. (yoga, acrobatics, color run, obstacle course, etc.)
  • Help them complete a lingering household project
  • Movie tickets
  • Schedule time to hang out and spend the day on new experiences around town
  • Museum tickets
  • Bake something, bring it over, and spend time catching up while eating
  • Tickets to a favorite sporting or concert event (just make sure the recipient is available on the scheduled date)
  • For travelers: gift cards to their favorite airline.
  • If you are handy: Offer to help them with a project around the house. This is especially helpful for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • For avid online shoppers: offer to renew their Amazon Prime membership. At least you aren’t buying the actual items, just enabling their hobby a wee bit.

Do you have any other ideas for an experiential gift? If so, I would love to hear it. Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Family, Simplify

Routine vs. Whimsy – Where do you Fall?

Do you find that you are  a person driven by routine or are you a bit more whimsical?

I had never thought about this much until I took a Myers-Briggs personality test when I first started college. That question jumped out at me. Of course I was whimsical. Wasn’t everybody? I loved adventure and never wanted today to be like yesterday.

Flash forward and now I am in a completely different life stage. Routines keep me sane. Since I am not a naturally routinized person, I unconsciously fought the implementation of family routines with all my might. But life as a Mom is a heck of a lot easier when things get done. Developing habits helps us make sure what needs to get done doesn’t fall through the cracks.

So which of the following resonates more with you?

1) Are you comforted when you find yourself engaged in routines day after day? Does the idea of stepping out of your routine seem a bit daunting?

OR

2) Does the idea of doing the same things every morning or evening seem difficult or impossible? Are you always down for a new adventure?

Are you more like #1 or #2? Somewhere in the middle?

You probably guessed that I am more like #2. I love last minute plans and seeing the potential possibilities in each new day.

Now that I am a Mom, I’m finding that life is much smoother when I stay true to my daily habits and only treat myself to whimsy once in awhile. Yet committing to routine day in and day out is still a struggle.

If you are a whimsical or adventurous person,  you feel my pain.

In order to simplify life with young kids, you need to have a plan and execute that plan to maintain consistency for them and some order for you. At least in our house, no one else is going to make sure we have clean clothes, food in the refrigerator, and bedtime rituals. And honestly, a consistent bedtime is hard for us to maintain because my husband is a lot like me. We get home from work and want to hang out with the family. Heck, we might even go on a small adventure after dinner. And then we look at the clock and try to rush through bedtime routines only to realize that our daughters are late for bed….again.

Sometimes being more organized and routinized will simplify your life. Like when you have kids.

Other times letting go and making do on a whim is the best way to peel back your life to the essential.

Honestly, I don’t think there is a right answer to the routine vs. whimsy question. Your particular life stage may require routine. Or your structured life may benefit from a dash of whimsy. As we move through life, we constantly have to adjust and find a new balance that works for our souls and our circumstances.

Family, Health

My Cerclage Experience – High Risk Pregnancy

This post shares my cerclage experience (a women’s reproductive issue) with the hopes that it will help someone experiencing a similar situation. 

My Cerclage Story–Take One

When I was 15 weeks pregnant with my first baby I went to a prenatal appointment with my perinatologist (I had been referred to a specialist due to previous health issues). She checked on the baby using her ultrasound equipment and then moved on to check my cervical length. After a long moment she frowned and told me that my cervix was funneling from the inside. She then said, “You have to come back tomorrow for a procedure to get a cerclage.”

What??? I didn’t even know what a cerclage was. She kept talking, but all I heard was bedrest…could lose the baby…lie down…no more teaching exercise.

Slowly I explained, “I’m scheduled to sub a yoga class tonight.” Then I asked, “Can I sit and talk the class through the workout?”

She looked at me as if I had completely lost it, took a breath and then calmly replied, “No. You are going to go home and lie down. No more teaching fitness even if you are sitting down. You are done.”

Oh, ok. It was barely starting to sink in. In a haze I walked back to the car.

Still processing the news I went home and started researching everything about cerclage to ease my mind. I learned that a cerclage stitches the cervix closed with the hopes of keeping the baby inside. No matter how much I read, my head was still spinning. Losing my baby was a real possibility. I spent the night trying to talk myself out of completely freaking out. Believe it or not, researching and reading eased my mind somewhat.

The next day I was in the hospital and ready for the procedure. The anesthesiologist gave me the choice between spinal or general anesthesia. He assured me that choosing to sleep through the procedure would not harm the baby because the dose would be very small. I had read that the spinal would keep you in recovery a lot longer so I chose to sleep through the procedure.

After the procedure I woke up in recovery and was able to go home within 90 minutes. The procedure went well, but my physician said that positioning the cerclage was difficult because my cervix was abnormally short and she wasn’t sure how it would hold.

I was on bed rest at home for the next 2 weeks, only getting up to go to the bathroom, and after a few days, I was allowed a quick daily shower.

When I returned for my next perinatologist appointment, she said that my cerclage was holding, the funneling wasn’t getting worse, but my cervix was still very short—just a little over a centimeter (which is considered very short for 16-17 weeks). I learned that I would be on bed rest/restricted activities until 36 weeks, when my cerclage would be removed if baby didn’t come sooner.

So began my life on bed rest. I was lucky that I was able to work from home using my computer and an Internet connection. It kept my mind occupied, and I was able to really focus on writing a couple of big grant proposals. Having something to focus on other than my health really helped. In the beginning my days moved by very s-l-o-w-l-y, but after about 4 weeks I started to adapt to my new schedule. And my new schedule included a lot of naps (the upside to bed rest).

I alternated between three positions: lying down fully; propping myself up in a lying down position; or sitting up. I tried to limit sitting up to eating and performing activities that I couldn’t do in other positions. Most of my day was spent in the lying propped position so I could work on my computer. And I rested periodically throughout the day so I could lie flat.

Every two weeks I had my cervical length checked and every time I held my breath. At each appointment my perinatologist performed an ultrasound to check the health of my baby and to measure my cervical length. It held steady between 1-1.5cm. I dreaded the idea of preterm labor or my cervix dilating before the baby was ready. I met many women in chat rooms who went through preterm labor, and their strength inspired me.

At 32 weeks I remember becoming more relaxed. Only 8 weeks to go and I would make it full term. And if the baby came early, I knew she would be ok. And a friend bought me books about bedrest like this one and this one that helped me keep things in perspective and even laugh about my situation.

When 36 weeks finally rolled around, my perinatologist removed my cerclage in her office examination room, feet in the stirrups. It was quick and only somewhat painful. I didn’t have to worry about anesthesia or going to the hospital.

After the cerclage was removed, I was free. My doctor told me that my pregnancy was no longer considered high risk and that I could go about my activities as normal. At about 37 weeks I started shopping and organizing the house to get ready for baby’s arrival. This made my hubby nervous because he wanted to make sure she was cooking as long as possible.

And she was a breech baby. Although I tried non-intrusive ways to turn her in the last 4 weeks, she just didn’t want to go in the head down position. In the end, my cervix never dilated, and we scheduled a c-section due to the baby’s breech position at 39 weeks, 4 days.

My Cerclage Experience lo res

My Cerclage Story–Take Two

When I learned that I was pregnant with my second daughter in 2015, I needed another cerclage. My perinatologist placed a McDonald cerclage when I was 13 weeks. Although the hospital procedure was almost identical in both instances, I was never on official bedrest the second time. I was told to relax at home for about three days (mostly in a horizontal position). After that I was back at my desk job where I worked for the duration of my pregnancy.

There were still restrictions–I was not allowed to pick up anything over 5 pounds, including my 3-year-old, which was incredibly difficult to avoid. I also was not allowed to exercise. However, at 5 months pregnant, my doctor cleared me to take prenatal yoga classes with modifications (and absolutely no core work).

Just like the first pregnancy, I went to my doctor every two weeks and got my cervical length checked. It held up at over 2cm throughout. At 36 weeks, she removed my cerclage in her office just like the first time. The procedure was much less painful than the first time.

Takeaways from my Experience

Having a preventive cerclage placed is a very different experience than having one placed after your cervix starts to funnel or dilate.

I have a short cervix, which I knew when I first became pregnant. I was fortunate that I didn’t have issues with preterm labor, which many Mamas do. My cerclage was placed because of mechanics rather than hormones. But I didn’t know that during my first pregnancy. It’s easy to look back and say “it was just mechanics” after the fact. It is scary as you go through your first and subsequent high-risk pregnancy experiences because you just don’t know if your cerclage will hold or if and when preterm labor will start.

Finding Community

Especially during my first pregnancy, I needed to find a community of women who understood what I was going through. The community forums on the Keep em Cookin website were invaluable. The ladies there totally understood what it was like to have a tough pregnancy, and many of the Mamas were enduring hospital bedrest. My heroes! I learned a lot from these Mamas. My pregnancy would have been so much more lonely and scary without them.

We are so lucky to live with the Internet a few keystrokes away. I keep thinking that my experience would have been so much different if I wasn’t able to access other Mamas through my computer. I am so grateful for their guidance and support throughout my pregnancy.

Please feel free to reach out to me via comments or privately via email if you would like support.

Meditation Garden
Family, Simplify

Finding Pockets of Simplicity In Chaos

It’s already been a day and its only noon. My 3-month-old is particularly fussy this morning and my 3-year-old has managed to acquire pink eye. I have been running around the house all morning trying to wash everything that my 3-year-old could have possibly touched before we realized her condition. It got me thinking…

So many of us are busy, busy, busy. Even if you dream of a slower pace, when you currently have a full plate, how do you slow down? How do you find pockets of simplicity? Especially when you encounter periods that are especially chaotic.

Even amid our busiest, most overwhelming days, we can find pockets of simplicity. It will look different for everyone, but it can be done.

Here are a few ideas that I have tried:

  • Breathe. Do you have time to close your eyes and breathe? Even a 30 second time out to breathe can help bring things into perspective.
  • Clean one small area if you feel like your surroundings are closing in on you. If you desk is overflowing with paper or your kids have made a mess of your house, you may feel extra stress. Feeling like you have control of one area of your environment can make all the difference. Even if it is a corner of your desk or part of your kitchen counter.
  • Reduce your use of technology. How often do you have to check email or social media? Can you put your phone down to engage in other aspects of your life? Set limits.
  • Find a place of quiet. Even if for a few minutes.
  • Find the positive. What is good in your life?

Today is one of my more chaotic days. I am taking time to sit still and breathe when there are gaps between calls for Mama’s help. It helps keep things in perspective. And with a fussy baby, I am thankful for any pockets of quiet that come my way.

Let’s see if I can continue to follow my own advice today.

How do you cultivate simplicity on your particularly chaotic or stressful days?

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