Walking into the dance studio, there’s a cacophony of noise – lively Latin beats inspire limbs of all sizes to groove to the music. The smallest limbs belong to babies who laugh, coo and screech in delight as they bob securely in their carriers, while the moms salsa dance. But there’s also a distinct absence of certain noises. There are no tired cries, angry screams, or dirty diaper hollers and every woman in the room is grateful for the temporary respite. Granted, it might not be long before any one of those familiar sounds puts a crimp into ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ but no one seems to mind at all, least of all, Jessica Baudin-Griffin. Jessica is at the front of the class, teaching salsa dance to a room full of moms and babies.
When Jessica, a former elementary school teacher, was pregnant with her first child she knew her life would change once the new baby was in the picture, but she was determined to keep her passions alive. And it was during these months that she began her own business that melds her love for dance with her passion for teaching. She named her company J’Adore Dance, which aptly means ‘I Love Dance’ and now Jessica teaches moms just like herself who are looking for fun things to do with their babies.
Jessica says there are many different activities out there for new parents and babies inEdmonton. And she says the trick is really to take the enjoyable things you’ve always done and find a way to make them work for both you and your little one. That’s exactly what she did with her baby classes—Salsa Babies, Intellidance, and now Belly Dancing Babies—she took her love for dance and melded it into something that would work with her new lifestyle as a parent.
But, Jessica also says, taking a few risks while having fun and being sassy can be a really good thing for parents. She says that too often people limit themselves, thinking they might not have the talent to experience activities they’ve always wanted to try. But when these same people see their own babies wholeheartedly enjoying activities that were once seemingly out-of-reach, they’re reminded to take themselves less seriously. “We really want to encourage people to realize that it’s about having fun, feeling good, and feeling empowered,” explains Jessica.
Edmontonis full of opportunities for parents and their little ones to explore. Gymboree Play & Music is a program with age-appropriate classes that help build cognitive, emotional, and physical skills through music, sport and art activities. Parents are directly involved in the program, witnessing first-hand their children’s progress.
Kidsnotes Konservatory offers a Kindermusik program, where babies can learn through music. These music programs are meant to help foster development and a sense of fun and discovery. They can’t guarantee a future Beethoven, which of course isn’t to say your child might not become a very accomplished musician some day. (It’s just not going to happen while he or she is still in diapers and it’s not the goal.) The goal is to help build some aural skills, help develop imaginations, create excellent opportunities for bonding, and be a source of pure joy for you and your baby.
And if it’s transcendent joy you’re looking for, and you’re not ready to trade in your yoga mat for a crib (though you’re still going to need that crib), don’t worry because even babies can enjoy the benefits of yoga. Itsy Bitsy Yoga is a program that offers the chance for little ones to reap the benefits of movement, which is said to even help with a baby’s digestion, and sleep problems.
According to Jessica, participating in group activities can help parents to ensure their children are developing and learning in fun ways. “[Parents] are very educated and [they] read about milestones and all these things babies are supposed to be doing, but we don’t necessarily know how we can help nurture that growth,” she says. But through classes that cultivate a close relationship, parents often feel more in tune with the baby’s developing personality and can see specifically how their baby’s learning is progressing.
Through her dance classes, Jessica says, she’s found a community of people that share similar struggles and triumphs that she and her husband experience as parents. Her husband, who now also helps with J’Adore Dance, is extremely supportive of Jessica’s love of dance, like many other husbands of the women in her classes. And the sense of community and belonging felt in her classes often extends beyond the dance studio—she’s even seen some of her little customers grow up. One little boy began when his mom enrolled in the salsa babies class and continued until he was a toddler dancing on his own.
Play groups can be a great way to connect and there are many to choose from on places like Meetup.com or Facebook. If you were to go to Meetup.com and type inEdmontonand parenting or play groups or children, there will be groups of all kinds ready for your choosing. One such group in Edmonton is momstown, which helps connect like-minded parents, providing much-needed support. Other groups like Modern Mama organize fun activities that mom’s can enjoy with their babies—you can go for a delicious luncheon, get a make-over, or just enjoy the company of other women.
While parenting can be overwhelming sometimes, Jessica says, the rewards are huge and it’s really exciting being able to share the experience with others in the community. “We’re all sleep deprived [and we all understand each other.] And I think there’s just a lot of solidarity and unity when [parents] come together like that. They feel really empowered.”
Caroline Barlott is a freelance writer and editor from Edmonton.
Please note: This article was written and originally published in 2010. Classes, organizations and other details may vary from those offered at that time.