During my first year of motherhood I discovered the Children’s Centres in Maidenhead, amid all the news of services and funding being cut for early years I was expecting very little from them. They turned out to be my absolute saviour, offering groups most days that are either free or require a small donation.
Groups for newborns and that ran through the holidays, these groups offered a small amount of stability I needed at the time. I attended the Nuture Groups generally the one at Woodlands Park Community Centre and Pinkeys Green Community Centre.
Don’t get me wrong I still had to get there looking half presentable and with Jacob, fed, changed and napped. But once I was there it was 90 mins where I didn’t need to worry about what to do with him (apart from when he cried, which he did a lot). Everything was there, cups of tea, toys, sensory activities, other human beings and support.
I admit I was nervous about sharing some of my anxieties and questions with the staff at the Nuture Group sessions, they are connected to the wider Children Services team in the borough. However, I found sharing my woes in front of other mum’s quite cathartic, “what, your child refuses to sleep at night too?” was my biggest revelation in a time where I felt totally alone and isolated. The fact the staff at the groups then offered advice and tips to help either work on an issue (it might have been weaning, reflux, sleep) as well as reassuring me that it was all perfectly normal kept me sane (although my other half would probably disagree!)
I have tried the Stay and Plays, Inbetweenies and Messy Play groups, and these too are a really cheap way to entertain your little one for an hour or so, but it was the Nuture Groups that I really found the most helpful. I was devastated when my son started crawling and had to be ‘graduated’ from the sessions. However I quickly realised that I had moved on too, out of the black hole that is the first year of motherhood and onto the next phase (chasing your child around a room minimising any damage they may cause!)
I can’t recommend the Children’s Centres enough, the first one you attend will be tough, but that’s the same as any group. Keep with it and build relationships with the staff and mum’s there and hopefully you’ll find them as useful as I did.
You can find the full services the borough offers here https://www3.rbwm.gov.uk/downloads/download/338/childrens_centres_-_guides%20