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News, updates, thoughts & more

We were absolutely delighted to have been invited to take part in the AIA Carnival on their Community Stage last Friday 23rd February. It was such a fun opportunity for parents to come along with their littles and learn some ways of connecting, not just with their children but also themselves, through music, movement and games. It was brilliant to see husbands getting involved in some of the mummy stretches too! We were also very grateful it wasn't a hot day, which makes things a lot more pleasant for activities! You can take a look at what the afternoon involved here!

We hope that the event with the rest of the TFZ team is the first of many more events that provide you and your families with a sense of community, friendship and support in the early years with your children.

Some lovely takeaways from the event that the team shared:

Lisel: Conscious Parenting Coach

1. Remember to take time for you, you can’t pour out of an empty cup

2. Movement and strength - the benefits last way after the exercise session has ended!

3. Music is soothing for you and baby. They form strong social bonds with their caregivers through familiar music, try to build it in your family rituals.

4. Touch, massage, your baby as often as possible and keep it going, pre bedtime, it’s a beautiful oxytocin releasing ritual.

If you would like a copy of different ways to foster connection with your babies and older kids, fill out this link and you will be able to access Lisel's free printable.

Claudia: Music Therapist

1. Babies love to hear their parents singing. Singing to your baby is a wonderful way to bond and relax for both of you.

2. Dedicating time to connect to your favourite music can instantly lift your mood, manage anxiety and reduce pain.

3. Playing musical games with your children can enhance development, language and connection. Make sure you keep the game simple and repetitive until your child understands the game.

Here are some songs which you can sing with your littles:

- Hello Hello

- Sleeping Bunnies

- Move to the Beat

Ishka: Pre and Postnatal Fitness

Quite a lot of mums struggle with a bit of either lower or upper back pain, so there are a few stretches you could try to implement at home into your daily routine. Remember that anyone can just move the body, instead we really want to focus on each movement independently and the area it is targeting, while using our breath to allow us to move deeper into the stretch to really maximize the use of the stretch to our advantage!

Breath-work practice:

INHALE: Expand up and out through the abdomen and rib cage on the inhale through the nose.

EXHALE: Release the breath through the mouth, while engaging the pelvic floor muscles and then engaging the core, starting with the deep core making your way up into the top core.

(Perform this using slow counts of 3-5 sec holds then move into quicker or longer holds once you become comfortable with the breath)

- Focus on exhaling when moving into movements and inhaling coming back to the start of movements.

- Your movement journey will be so different to everyone around you, remember to be kind to yourself and your recovery!, find what you enjoy and find excitement in getting to rediscover your postpartum body and just how strong and amazing she really is!

Movement is medicine that doesn’t require big doses to have instant effects, so start small and each day the body and mind will crave a little more!

Follow this link to a routine for any mums looking to release some tension in the back, also great to help with all the postural changes that comes with having a newborn/little.

A big thank you from all of us for your support!

It was a lovely calm evening at home. Michelle and I were relaxing on the sofa watching some easy TV, probably Drive To Survive or something (we love it ;)), I with a wee whisky in hand and Mich nursing a cup of tea. All was quiet and calm and we plodded upstairs to bed. We were still five days before the EDD (Expected Due Date), so I drifted off into a deep sleep probably dreaming of F1.

The next thing I knew was Mich prodding me in the arm and saying 'I think it's happening'. And like that, you're catapulted into your new role before you even feel ready for it. My initial thoughts were: "oh man, it's like 2:30am...", but we started counting the time between contractions and pretty soon we realised that this was more than just Braxton-Hicks (false contractions).

People often asked me during the pregnancy: "you must be so excited!" or "I bet you can't wait to meet your baby!". And yes of course part of you feels like that. But these questions can also prompt a modicum of guilty thoughts such as: "why aren't I feeling the way they're asking me?" or "yeah I guess I'm excited but I'm also flipping anxious and scared and have no idea what I need to do!".

But fear not dads, you're not alone. The unfortunate situation you're in is that there is in reality very little external / community support and acknowledgment of the mental well-being of dads. And it's not about who has it worse between you and your partner, more what you experience is just different and the ability to listen, acknowledge and empathise between you is the most important support you can give to each other especially in the early months during your lives' transition.

Once our daughter was with us at home and we were getting used to our new lives, I remember Mich and I starting to feel ourselves taking a bit of a turn for the worse. A lot of mums suffer from postnatal depression, but many suffer from postnatal anxiety (something I'd never heard of). It also affects dads as well with 10% suffering from it. However, staggeringly this figure rises to up to 50% if the mum has it as well. What we experienced respectively in terms of our feelings and transition are for another post, but in short, the thing we found most important was that we were a team and we listened to each other and helped each other when emotional wobbles happened. Believe me there were many, but it only resulted in us becoming tighter and closer. Mich also started to make great and strong friendships with other new mums from her WhatsApp mums group and would often be messaging them in the middle of the night trying to figure out breastfeeding / wind / sleep / swaddling problems! The support that the mums gave to each other was just wonderful and I think had a massive impact on how they all coped, particularly when the other partner returns to work. However I remember wondering why there was not anything similar for dads? At many points I remember feeling (despite the amazing support from Mich) quite isolated and not able to express how I felt to anyone other than her. This feeling is then compounded by also not wanting to over-burden as well. So as a result you often end up internalising and putting on a facade of being okay.

Cutting forward two years... since Mich and I have taken over The Family Zone, I am now determined to build a community for dads where they don't feel isolated and not able to share anything with others. I'm trialing this on the 22nd September with one of my chums (dad of three) at Musubi Hiro in Central. The objective being to have a cosy gathering for dads-to-be to meet dads-that-are in a completely BS and judgement free environment where literally any question can be asked and sharing of feelings encouraged so that dad's-to-be feel more empowered about what's coming and about themselves.

My point is this: there is no should or shouldn't when it comes to how you feel

about anything. Honouring, sharing and acknowledging what you're feeling and

working as a team is the most important thing you can together. The danger of dismissing emotions and feelings is that it denies that person the right to feel what they're feeling and as a result compounds this by adding on the layer of 'what's wrong with me? why am I feeling this when I shouldn't be?!'. And when well-meaning friends and family advise us "don't worry!" or "stop being silly/emotional!" or "come on cheer up!" OR the insidious phrase "come on man up", they might as well be telling us "what's the matter with you? Just speak Japanese!"

Hugo Busbridge

Director - The Family Zone

Dad of one

Husband to Michelle

Nappy changing expert & Prince of wet wipes

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