Across the world, people are coming together today for World Mental Health Day 2019. Salford born organisation, Dance Like a Mother, is using this day to draw attention to the need for all parents to experience positive mental health.
Dance Like a Mother is a babywearing dance class for mums (and dads) Promoting both physical and mental health for parents, whilst being close to their child, in a welcoming environment.
The organisation was set up by Nikki Baillie in 2016, when the dance instructor established the mother and child dance class in her hometown of Salford, after having a child of her own. Dance Like a Mother quickly grew and Nikki expanded the company to 15 locations and took on multiple staff to help run the business.
Shelly Brennan, is director and instructor at Dance Like a Mother, who got involved with the organisation by attending the classes with her eight-week old daughter. She attended the classes for over two years, enjoying the closeness it brought to her and her daughter. It was the only ‘baby group’ she felt was beneficial to both her and her daughter.
As her daughter got bigger and more independent, Shelly was unsure of how she would cope without Dance Like a Mother in her life. However, this worry was short-lived when she was asked to join the team as an instructor.
Shelly explained: “When Nikki asked if I’d consider joining, I thought about it for around two seconds! I’ve not looked back since. I’m so lucky to work with these parents and babies and giving them that positive experience.”
All of the Dance Like a Mother instructors are parents themselves, which helps them establish a positive relationship with the attendees of the classes.
Shelly explained: “You do have to be a mum to fully understand the whole thing of pregnancy and birth. To be able to have empathy, sympathise, understand and share knowledge and experience with each other.”
The Dance Like a Mother team pride themselves on the community aspect of the company. Both staff and attendees understand the new pressures and emotions of becoming a parent.
She added: “It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Some people expect you to be on cloud nine after having a new baby but that’s not the reality. Sleep deprivation, body and lifestyle changes and these new demands on you as a parent are overwhelming and hard work.”
The dance classes are known to improve the mental health of class members, with a survey from Dance Like a Mother suggesting 97% of attendees felt happier and 100% were able to let go of their worries in sessions.
Shelly explained: “Even if someone came to one class and it made a positive difference to their day- that’s amazing.”
This Mental Health Awareness Day, the team are hoping to show parents the importance of their mental health. They are encouraging attendees to write down what worries them and sharing these on social media as a way of showing parents it’s not only them struggling.
Shelly added: “We don’t want there to be a stigma around mental health. We want parents to be able to open up and know they’re not alone.”
View this post on Instagram
S E L F C A R E S E P T E M B E R L E V E N S H U L M E We had a wonderful class in Levenshulme at @levyoldlibrary and took time to make a pledge of something we would like to do for ourselves that is self-caring and self-full. We have also raised money in aid of @macmillancancer. Here are a few words from the wonderful Bekkie about how attending our class and becoming part of the ‘DLAM FAM’ has made her feel… “I always feel bouyed up after a DLAM class. No matter what has happened in the run up to getting to the class in the morning, once we break out the grapevine, I cannot help but smile. It’s such a fun environment and that’s been so vital for my wellbeing during mat leave.” #selfcareseptember #selffull #dance #community #babybond #levy #macmillancoffeemorning
One attendee, Leander Jane, has suffered with Postpartum OCD since her daughter turned five-weeks old.
She began attending classes when her daughter was eight-weeks old and believes it has helped improve her mental health.
Leander said: “It gave me the opportunity to feel safe in a room of supportive mums. It is never judgemental. At the beginning of every session we are reminded that it doesn’t matter if we go wrong as long as we’re going in the right kind of direction and this has stayed with me. This is exactly how parenting is, we’re all doing different moves but in the same kind of direction.”
As part of her diagnosis, Leander became a perfectionist and was intent on getting everything right.
She added: “Dance Like a Mother allowed me to see that this wasn’t necessary and it became the only place I could truly relax.”
Another member, Jade Cayton-Toole, said: “As a new mum it’s easy to feel like you’re fading into the background and losing yourself. At a class you have a name other than ‘Mummy’ and I can’t stress how important that is. I don’t like to think about how my journey into motherhood might have ended up if I didn’t find Dance Like a Mother.”
In the future, the team hope to expand their company further and are planning the launch of Sing Like a Mother. They are also reaching out to parents aged 25 and under by offering free classes under their funded scheme.
Shelly said: “We have lots of ideas. Our focus is on bringing parents and communities together. We just want to help support our mums in the best way we can.”
Image credit: Dance Like a Mother Facebook