Would you know how to spot a child who was drowning?

I was a much better parent before I had children. Back then, I would never entertain my children by sticking the TV on. I refused to let them get their own way just because they threw an epic tantrum. The only snacks that would pass their lips were carefully selected organic delights. I was the model parent… until my little girl came into the world. These days – and I am going to hold my hands up here – I give in to the tantrums, I let Peppa Pig babysit so that I can have five minutes peace, I bribe my little darling with a bag of Milky Buttons if we can just get round the supermarket without making a scene…

The movies totally misled me before having kids. They made it look easy, so I was sure that parenting was going to be an absolute walk in the park. Now I am a parent – a proud owner of a headstrong two year old – I sometimes feel that the only park I walk through is Jurassic Park!

How the movies show it…

It’s not the first time movies have ‘lied’ to us, and I am sure it won’t be the last. Most of the time, we know the ways things are portrayed in the movies rarely reflect the reality of our day-to-day lives. Other times, though, it’s perhaps not so obvious. Take drowning, for example; in the movies, we’d usually see lots of splashing, flailing arms, and lots of shouting – there’s no way you’d miss it. Growing up, I always assumed this is just what drowning looked like. I would know if I was ever to see somebody in trouble on the water. I would hear it. So would everybody else. Help would be on the way.

… and how it happens in reality

The reality of drowning, though, is often very different. The signs can be subtle, and thus easily missed. In sharp contrast to the movie norm, a person who is drowning:

  • Will often be silent, and therefore unable to call for help
  • May be unable to wave or signal as their natural instinct to press down on the water’s surface kicks in
  • Could be unable to control their arm movements, making it difficult to swim to safety or hold on to a lifeline
  • Will, more often than not, be vertical in the water and not showing any signs of kicking

I was a bit taken aback when I first heard this, as it’s never how I had pictured drowning before. When I became a parent, I was sure that I wanted to introduce my little girl to the water at a young age. Of course, I would always keep a very close eye on her but I always thought that, if she was to get into danger, I’d know about it.

One Nemo parent’s story

Nemo Swimming recently teamed up with Tumbles and Grumbles to share some hints and tips to help you keep your children safe in the water this summer. Following this, one parent got in touch with Tumbles and Grumbles and shared her story:

“One afternoon I was standing… in the shallow end of the pool. After chatting away to my father in law… I noticed something in the pool just behind him. On second glance, I realised that it was someone’s hat floating on the surface and then spotted two hands just flap very briefly out of the water… There was no real noise, just a bit of a gurgling sound… I rushed over to find a six or seven year old child actually drowning, with no parents in sight. The life guard would never have seen the child as there was a bush between the two of them.

I carried the child out of the pool and the life guard rushed over and thanked me. The child’s mother came rushing over, oblivious that her child was in the water by himself and could have possibly drowned on their family holiday. It just takes seconds!”

A scary story, but thankfully one with a happy ending. It just goes to show, though, how quickly children can get into trouble in the water, and how easily tragedies can happen. No splashing. No shouting. A silent tragedy that was narrowly avoided.

What can you do to keep your children in the water?

  1. Constant and active adult supervision – never leave your children unattended in the water, not even for a minute.
  2. Restrict access – place a barrier around the water to stop young children accessing it when your back is turned. If that’s not possible, place a barrier around your little one instead.
  3. Build water confidence – familiarise your baby, toddler or young child with the water, discuss water safety with them, and set rules for in and around the water.
  4. Rescue and resuscitation – make sure you are trained in basic rescue techniques, so that you know what to do in case the worst was to happen. Check out this fantastic video about the importance of learning CPR from Tumbles and Grumbles

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming, with input from Caroline, Tumbles and Grumbles

 

Baby swimming lessons: what do you need to know?

The first few weeks of parenting were a total blur for me – I had no idea what I was doing, I was functioning on very little sleep, and I was (being perfectly honest) a hormonal mess! So, when somebody first mentioned taking my teeny tiny little baby swimming, I felt like my head going to explode with all the questions – when could I take her swimming? What would she need to wear? Where should I take her? What would she be learning at such a young age? Was I ready to sport a swimming costume at just a few weeks postpartum?!

In this blog, we address some of the common questions that parents have before taking their baby swimming for the first time. If you have a question that hasn’t been covered here, drop us an email at [email protected] and we’d be happy to help!

When can I take my baby swimming?

You’ll hear a lot of people say that you should wait until your baby is six or seven weeks old before taking them swimming; when I first heard this, I assumed that it was because of those first immunisations, which are given around this time. It’s not the case. Babies can actually go swimming immediately after birth (though I can honestly say that this was the last thing on my mind after welcoming my little girl into the world!). While doggy paddling across the pool is still a little way off, your baby will be born with a remarkable ability to control their breathing in the water. They also have a reflex reaction that makes them move their arms and legs in a swimming motion known as the Bradycardic response – pretty cool, huh?

So, where does this six or seven week ‘rule’ come from? Well, it’s to protect us mums. After giving birth, we are more prone to infection, which is why the NHS recommends waiting at least six weeks before going in the pool. Of course, that doesn’t stop other family members taking your little bundle of joy for a swim before this.

Be aware that babies can chill more easily than us adults, so make sure that you pick a nice, warm pool, particularly when they are very young. At Nemo Swimming, we always recommend that babies under 12 weeks or 12 pounds attend lessons at one of our hydrotherapy pools, which are the bit warmer for little bodies.

Why should I take my baby swimming?

There are many benefits to baby swimming, even if it is a slightly daunting experience for parents taking them for the first time. Your baby will have spent the last nine months or so in your womb, where it was protected by amniotic fluid. This means that being in the water isn’t a completely unfamiliar experience for them. The sound, feel and warmth of the water can re-ignite your baby’s senses, which is a truly magical thing to watch as a parent. Swimming also offers a great opportunity for skin-to-skin contact with your baby, which can really help with parent-baby bonding.

Being in the water gives your baby complete freedom of movement, and places no additional strain on their little body. At the same time, though, swimming helps to build and strengthen your baby’s muscles. It also helps to improve balance and coordination, with research showing that babies who learn to swim have better balance outside of the pool.

One of the main benefits of swimming with your baby, of course, is that it starts to build water confidence early – and this will help them enjoy the water safely as they grow up. And, in case you needed any more convincing, swimming can help improve your baby’s sleeping pattern – something that I am sure most parents will welcome with open arms!

What happens at a baby swimming class?

It depends where you go, of course, but at a Nemo Swimming class you will be in the water with a small group of parents and babies (all of whom will be of a very similar age). The instructor will be in the water with you, which I always found reassuring when my little Nemo and I were new to baby swimming.

While you’re in the water, you can expect lots of songs, which provide comfort and reassurance to young children. We always use game and repetitive play patterns to help your baby learn – even at a very young age – how to blow bubbles, hold on, kick their legs, and float. To help you understand what your baby is learning, we share details as to what they are working towards via our online booking system – so you can track your little one’s progress, and be assured that Nemo Swimming instructors are doing the same.

Find out more about Nemo Babies lessons

What will I need to take with me?

Most pools and swimming lesson providers operate a ‘double nappy’ policy. This means that you will need to dress your baby in a disposable or re-usable swim nappy and, on top of this, a neoprene nappy to keep any accidents sealed in! As well as a costume and towel for yourself, you will need to pack a soft, and preferably hooded towel for your baby. Swimming makes babies hungry, so it’s a good idea to take a bottle or a snack for after your swim, too. Of course, if you’re anything like me you’ll probably end up packing loads more things, just in case – a hat in case it’s cold, sun cream in case it’s warm, three spare outfits, a year’s supply of nappies, the kitchen sink…

Did we miss something?

If you have a question that we haven’t answered here, get in touch at [email protected], and we will get back to you as soon as we can!

Happy swimming!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming

Why the summer is a great opportunity to build your child’s confidence in the water

Who’s looking forward to the summer?! I tell you one thing… I am! I absolutely love it – lots more sun (I hope!), being able to sit outside in the evening, trips to the beach, maybe a little jaunt abroad. Yippee!

While the Nemo Swimming team will be hanging up their SwimFins and taking a little break over the summer, there are still plenty of things that you can be doing to help boost your little Nemo’s confidence in the water – and keep them entertained at the same time!

In this blog, we highlight the many ways that the summer months can help your baby, toddler, or young child when it comes to all things swimming. Let’s dive in, shall we?!

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

On an average week, I take my little Nemo for a half hour swimming lesson. Every now and then, I’ll take her to a public pool for a bit of a play, too. Usually, though, she spends no more than an hour in the water – excluding baths, of course. When we go abroad, though, it’s a completely different story!

We recently returned from Tenerife – absolutely amazing time was had by all. My almost-two-year-old was delighted when she saw we had a pool in the back garden – it was, quite possibly, the most exciting thing ever! Every morning, she would wake up, point out the window, and shout “pool!”. Had we not fished her out every now and then for food and naps, she probably would have spent the entire week in that pool. Much as it didn’t do my tan much good, or give me a chance to enjoy a good book, it did wonders for her water confidence. Of course, this was in part down to the extra time in the water, but also because she had the opportunity to explore in the shallow water, to play new games, and to watch other swimmers – old and young – have fun in the pool.

The benefits of shallow water

Whether you’re heading abroad, down to the beach, visiting a nearby splash pad, or simply getting the paddling pool out in the back garden, shallow water provides phenomenal learning experiences for young children. Let your little Nemo explore by walking in the water. You’ll know yourself how different it feels to run or walk in the water; most babies or toddlers won’t have had much opportunity to really explore this new feeling, so it’s a great opportunity to let them learn about their own buoyancy and figure out what they can and can’t do. Encourage them to jump, hop on one leg, walk sideways like a crab, or – if the water is shallow enough – sit down. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that your little Nemo is always closely supervised, but I’m sure you all knew that already!

Water load of fun!

The summer is the perfect time to let your little Nemo indulge in some unstructured-play sessions in the water. They will love watching you have fun in the water, and their water confidence will come on leaps and bounds as a result.

Here are a few ideas you can try:

  • Grab some toys, and let them be the teacher for a change – encourage them to show you where they want to go, what they want to see, and what they want to do.
  • Try getting your little Nemo to swim on their back – with your support, as needed – and kick a ball with their legs.
  • Grab a woggle and play some horsey horsey, go underneath the rainbow, or lie back on those lazy sun loungers – have some fun with it!
  • Let your little swimmer go down a slide into shallow water – the sensation of landing in the water will be new and exciting to them.
  • Encourage them to jump in, from the side or from a wobble board, and see how big a splash they can make. Sploosh!

That’s it from us for now, but we will be back soon with more hints and tips to help keep your babies, toddlers, and young children safe in the water this summer. If you missed it, check out our recent blog post about floatation aids – what are the best aids out there, and how can they help your little swimmers.

Happy swimming, y’all!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming

Ah, ah, ah, ah staying afloat, staying afloat…

Whether you are heading to the local pool, or hopping on a plane and flying far away this summer, the chances are that you – or perhaps a friend or family member – have raised a question or two about floatation aids. My mother-in-law very kindly bought my little Nemo some inflatable armbands for her first holiday. Armbands were the floatation aid of choice back when she had young children of her own. Today, though, there are plenty more options available. So, how do you select the best one for your child? In this blog, I chat to Theresa, co-founder and director of Nemo Swimming, to find out more.

Hi, Theresa! Let’s talk floatation aids; what do parents need to know?

Every year, at around this time, I get a new wave of questions from parents: What floatation aid should I buy for my holidays? Which armbands are the best? What alternatives should I be looking at? Let me start by saying that, when used properly, floatation aids are a fantastic tool for helping little ones gain confidence in the water. We, along with many other swimming providers, use them for this very reason in our lessons. Those of you who come to our classes regularly will know that we favour woggles (or pool noodles, as they are sometimes known), and the super-cool SwimFins. There are, though, lots of other options out there – and each of these options has its merits and its drawbacks. Whatever aid you use – no matter how good it is – it goes without saying that you must ensure that you supervise your baby, toddler, or young child in the water at all times. It is important to remember that little ones can drown in even one inch of water – so make sure you’re always by their side.

What are the best floatation aids out there?

That’s easy – the best floatation aid is you, the parent! Whether your little Nemo is just a few months old, or about to start school, they could not ask for a better buoyancy aid than their mummy or daddy. Use some of the holds that your learning in your Nemo Swimming lessons, and invest in some fun toys for the pool – rubber ducks, little fish, watering cans. Let them explore, tell you where they want to go, and what they want to see. When they see you having fun, your little one’s water confidence will come on leaps and bounds – it really will. If it’s usually mummy who attends swimming lessons, spend some time showing daddy what you learn in the pool. It’ll give him a brilliant opportunity for some daddy-little Nemo bonding, and it’ll also allow you to have five minutes to yourself!

Armbands always seem like a popular choice; what are your thoughts on them?

Personally, I’m not a fan. They’re still probably one of the most popular and commonly used floatation aids out there thanks to their low cost and durability. They’re certainly not my first choice, though. Although they do, of course, offer many advantages, armbands can really restrict the movement of children’s arms and, in my experience, some kids will become too dependent on them. This may mean that they find it difficult to move to a different swimming aid at a later stage, which can then hinder their progress. It’s also important to remember that, unless both bands have been inflated equally, your child will have to work harder on one side.

What would you recommend instead?

Depending on the age of your child, woggles and/or SwimFins. Woggles, which are sometimes referred to as pool noodles, are great for all ages – even adults! For your little Nemo, they allow a degree of independence, and can be used to play all sorts of games – underneath the rainbow, horsey horsey, and lazy sunloungers are just a few of the ones that we encourage in our classes. They are low cost, too, and can be picked up from many pound shops, not to mention the likes of Amazon.

For slightly older children – two years plus – I absolutely love SwimFins. We’ve used these in our lessons for many years and our little Nemos think they are great! I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to be a scary shark or a friendly dolphin?! Although they are suitable for children from around 18 months, I’d say that children aged two-and-a-half years and up will get the most benefit from them. Use them under the supervision of your Nemo Swimming instructor first but, once your little swimmer is used to the SwimFin, it’s fantastic.

Any other tips for parents this summer?

The summer really is such an amazing opportunity to help boost your little Nemo’s confidence in the water, and to have lots of fun at the same time. You don’t get many summers with young children, so enjoy them while you can. Take some time to make some memories.

Thanks, Theresa, some great ideas and thoughts here. Don’t forget, we’ll be sharing more hints and tips over the next few weeks to help keep your little ones safe in the water this summer.

Happy swimming!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming

“I’m failing at parenting”: a real-life tale of the first few weeks of being a mummy

“I’m not enjoying this…”

That’s what I remember thinking one morning as I sat on the sofa feeding my beautiful three-week-old baby. I felt awful for thinking it, and was so afraid of telling anybody how I felt. I mean, what would people think if I told them?! The way I was feeling wasn’t normal– at least that’s what I kept telling myself.

Expectation is the mother of all frustration

I found the first few weeks of parenting agonisingly hard; I had no idea what I was doing, and when I looked around at all the other mummies around me, they just seemed so natural at this parenting thing. That’s what I had longed for throughout my pregnancy. I had this notion that, as women, we should just know what to do with our babies, that everything would just come naturally, like it does for all those new mummies you see in the movies. The fact that parenting didn’t come naturally to me left me feeling like a complete and utter failure. I had this beautiful little baby – something I’d wanted for so many years – but I simply wasn’t enjoying being a parent. What’s worse is that I was sure that my little girl knew it too. I felt like I was letting her (not to mention everybody else around me) down. So, I forced myself to put on a brave face, and I told myself that everything would be fine: I could do this. I would do this.

As the weeks went on, I found myself crying more and more often. I was really struggling. How the hell did everybody else just know what to do?! Why couldn’t I be like them? What was wrong with me?! I dreaded my husband going to work in the morning and leaving me alone with the baby. I’d cry when she cried – I’d even cry when she slept. I would get upset when somebody else tried to give me a break by taking her for a few minutes, and I would think why did she seem so settled in their arms but not in mine? I was failing at parenting.

“How often have you felt…?”

When my little girl was around six weeks old, my health visitor popped round. for my routine check-up. She asked how things were going, how my C-section scar was healing, if the baby was feeding okay, whether I had any concerns, and so on. I told her everything was great – couldn’t be better! That’s what I thought I had to say. That’s what any normal new parent would say, right?! But then she told me that she was going to ask me a series of questions as part of the NHS’ screening for postnatal depression (PND). I knew what the test was going to say, and I’d already told myself (numerous times) that I had to go and talk to somebody about how I was feeling. I needed help. Knowing what to say, how to say it, or who to say it to is what I had struggled with most. How on earth was I supposed to explain to somebody that I loved my baby but wasn’t enjoying being a parent?! I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t.

My health visitor started asking me questions: How often have you felt like things have been getting on top of you? I answered her truthfully, “every day”. How often have you felt scared or panicky for no good reason? I responded, “all the time!” Have you had any thoughts about harming yourself? Honestly, I had to answer “yes”.

We didn’t even get halfway through the questionnaire before I burst into tears. Having somebody ask me those direct questions was just what I needed. It was only when I was being asked to select a response that came closest to how I felt that I was able to tell somebody how much I was struggling. I was so worried about people judging me for feeling the way that I did, but my health visitor could not have been more supportive. She made an appointment for me to see my GP; she offered to come with me, and to talk to the GP in advance if I was worried having ‘that conversation’. It instantly felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

My road to recovery

As soon as I had ‘confessed’ how I was feeling to one person, the words came quite easily when I walked into the GP’s room later that day. Like my health visitor, she so supportive. She explained some of the options available to me, and got me started on a treatment plan. There was never any judgement, and just being able to admit how I felt really did help me to feel that bit better.

In the coming weeks, I started to be more honest with my friends and family about how I’d found the first couple of months of being a parent. I was amazed at how many other mummies (and daddies!) told me that they’d been feeling the same, and that they too had been struggling. I found that many of the parents who I thought had ‘cracked it’ were actually finding things hard too. Just like me, they’d been putting on a bit of a front – only letting people see how wonderful they were finding things. The truth was that I wasn’t the only one who sometimes struggled to get their little baby to settle, that I wasn’t the only one who felt like pulling their hair out when their baby would wake up for their next feed mere minutes after my head had touched the pillow. It also turned out that I wasn’t the only one who sometimes felt like they had absolutely no idea what they were doing – it was such a relief!

Getting help

The first few weeks (and really, the first few months) of parenting are challenging; it has been, without doubt, the hardest job I have ever had. I felt like there was so much pressure on me as a new mummy to just be able to ‘get on with it.’ It is a sad reality that there are so few people talking about just how hard things can be, and instead presenting the illusion that parenting is all sunshine and rainbows. I was amazed at how many other parents were finding things difficult but didn’t feel able to truly express how they were feeling. It was also surprising to me how many parents around me were being diagnosed with postnatal depression. It affects so many people, and I just wish that it wasn’t seen as such a taboo subject. If you are a new parent who is struggling, always remember that our health matters. It’s okay to not be okay, that it’s normal to find things hard and, most importantly, it’s okay to ask for help when you need it

If you think you are suffering from postnatal depression, you are not alone! Talking, sharing and building up a supportive network is key to your recovery. Get out and about and meet some other mums and dads, or check out some of the amazing communities on the likes of Mumsnet. Most importantly, remember that you are doing a great job!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming

My Perfect Instagram Post (partum body)

 

It Doesn’t Just Ping Back!

One early morning (as a working parent, getting my social media fix in the cold light of 4am has become the norm) I was flicking through Instagram, when I stopped scrolling. I went back to a post that had caught my tired eyes: a picture of a celebrity (the gorgeous Georgia Jones, to be exact) two weeks postpartum. Yet, this image hadn’t fallen victim to any of Instagram’s delightful filters – only my own quiet disbelief: here, in Georgia’s Instagram post, was a true reflection of a postpartum tummy. It was not an impossibly flat stomach with ZERO stretch marks that I had become accustomed to seeing, but one that could have been easily mistaken for a pregnant stomach. I was so relieved to see it. I saw Georgia later in an interview with Lorraine Kelly defending her Instagram postpartum post: “It doesn’t just ping back!”, Georgia admitted. “You’re not kidding…” I thought. (See Georgia’s interview on Lorainne here.)

Shock Horror! The Reality of the ‘Mummy Tummy’

When I was pregnant, I was practically sedentary because of my size. Swamped with the feeling of carrying a tiny human inside me, I was also swamped with pictures of celebrities who had recently had children. I’d read their experiences: a seemingly straight-forward birth, a remarkably unmarked body post-birth, and each of them blessed with an astonishing freedom to spend ‘quality time’ on themselves. The postpartum stomach I was used to seeing was a tummy that no longer looked like it was about to burst at any second. Clearly, I thought, banishing the ‘mummy tummy’ was achievable straight away – this must be exactly how it happens.

But here was Georgia Jones, proud of her stomach as it still bulged, sharing it with the whole world. I recalled the birth of my child, and remember how I looked down at my own body postpartum.  I was in shock; this was not how it was meant to be!  My body was a train wreck, a horror to behold. After nine months, how could I still look pregnant?  This was not the ideal I had been fed by the media. Yet, looking at my own swollen stomach, I had a reality check: I did not have childcare, I did not go to the gym every morning, I had not been eating healthy salads or drinking nutritious smoothies ‘on-the-go’. I did not have the time; I did not have the energy.

Too Much Information? Sharing the Perfectly Normal Postpartum Experience

My postpartum body was a product of a difficult labour and constant adjustments to caring for a newborn baby.  My body received no love and attention from me: my child did.  My body had been a home for my baby, and was now a source of their nourishment (even if it was a product of very little sleep!)  Of course, I had not just ‘pinged’ back to normal; this was now my normal, and  I was proud that I was still adjusting. I realised that my ‘new’ body should be celebrated: it was the vehicle for the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I accepted that I could make changes when I felt okay to do so, changes that were not determined by any magazine or my preconceived expectations. So, here’s to my perfect Instagram post (partum body) – and yours too!

Do you see Georgia’s post? Or do you have a similar experience? We’d love to hear from you! Follow us on Facebook & Twitter to get sharing!

The post-baby body continues to go viral! To hear more from women celebrating their postpartum bodies, why not check out Emily Marson’s Story and this fantastic blog!

 

Written by Jill, Nemo Swimming

Five reasons why you’re an amazing mum

Being a mum can be hard work, and sometimes you just need somebody to tell you that you’re doing a good job. So, this is me telling you that not only are you doing a good job, you are doing an amazing job! Here’s why…

Nothing stays the same

Becoming a parent changes you; you aren’t the same as you used to be. Your body isn’t the same, relationships with friends and family have changed, priorities start to alter. I struggled with all these changes when I became a mum back in 2016. I suddenly felt like I had lost my identity, and these things that I once had a good handle on were starting to fall by the wayside. But then I looked at my little girl. She gave me that look that only babies can give – the one that says: “you’re my everything, mummy”. It might sometimes feel that you have given up so much to be a mum – your sleep, your social life, your abs… but what you have gained is so incredible. Embrace the changes, and enjoy the new challenges that parenting throws your way.

They’re doing it differently, not better

It’s easy to look at other mums and feel that they are doing a better job at this parenting gig than you. They’re not; they’re just doing it differently. Each child is different, as is each mum. We all have our own approach to parenting – our own unique way of ‘winging it’. All that really matters is that our children are loved, happy, and healthy. Take a minute and watch them as they smile, grab your finger, blow you a kiss, or learn a new skill. Our children are living proof that we are doing something that is unquestionably amazing.

Messy hair, don’t care!

In years to come, your children won’t remember how clean your house was, whether you managed to style your hair, or even if you managed to get dressed before midday. What they will remember is the time you spent with them, the hugs you gave, the times you laughed together, and the memories you made. They don’t focus on the small things, and neither should you. When they look at you with eyes full of love and admiration, that’s them telling you that you are their world.

Sometimes it’s all about survival

We all have days where we want to hide, or times where everything seems to get on top of us. All of us lose our cool sometimes, but we really shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. We are human, after all (even if we don’t feel it after a broken night of sleep). It’s important that we allow ourselves to have ‘one of those days’, and that we give ourselves the opportunity to pick ourselves up again. This is what makes us stronger! As parents, we need to know that it’s OK not to be OK sometimes. Take five minutes for yourself, phone a friend and get things off your chest, have a good cry. Your little one needs you to be OK, and sometimes we need to fall apart so that we can come back stronger.

I’ll catch you if you catch me

In my early days of parenting, the relationships that I formed with other parents were, without doubt, the key to my survival. They still are! Having a support network of other mums – and dads – gives me the opportunity to ask the ‘silly questions’, and to seek reassurance that I am parenting correctly. Much as these friends have become my safety net, I have become an important part of their support network too. We are all somebody else’s safety net, so we must be doing something right!

Happy Mother’s Day from the team at Nemo Swimming. If you’ve loved reading our ‘five reasons why you’re an amazing mum’, then why not check out these five mummy blogs that we love – all created by amazing mums, just like you!

A Sprinkle of Glitter
Missy Lanning, I am a Mother Mother’s day special
Just a Normal Mummy
The Unmumsy Mum
Oh So Mummy

This blog post has been written by Emma at Nemo Swimming

Business Models, Business Mums: How to get the best of both worlds.

Nemo Swimming Director, Theresa and her son

It’s International Women’s Day 2019! As #IWD trends each year, the waves of women who want to ‘be their own boss’ continue to rise.

Taking the plunge

In this blog, Theresa Nicholson, director of Nemo Swimming, chats candidly about her experiences of building a business model and being a model business mum. Sitting down with Theresa, I decided to dive in at the deep end (pun very much intended) and ask her THE question: why did you decide to start Nemo Swimming?

“My son was the inspiration behind my business model”, Theresa begins. “When he was a baby, I worked as a baby-swimming teacher. As a working mum, I wanted something that most mums are trying to find: a flexible ‘work-life’ balance. However, it wasn’t just my own needs that drove me. My son had been learning to swim since he was a baby, but when he was three, I noticed that there was nothing out there in terms of swimming lessons that met the requirements of that age group. Since I was already in the swimming industry, it was from here that I was able to find gap in the market and  began Nemo Swimming.”

“Baby swimming is such a rewarding industry, and part of my job as director of Nemo Swimming is to help develop that crucial bond between baby and parent in the early stages. What I’m particularly fascinated by is nurturing a child’s independence, as when they get to three years old, their caregiver stops coming into the water with them (a big step for both child and parent.) This is when my creativity can really come into play! Most people are quite tentative about teaching this age group – which is part of what drove me to pursue my business model further. I’m a firm believer that if you trust in your own knowledge, the child with trust in you too.”

Let’s talk about role reversal: when mum becomes the ‘breadwinner’

Of course, International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the social, economic and political achievements of women – from a business perspective, this is about promoting equality and breaking down old-fashioned ‘roles’ of men going out to work and women staying at home. But what are the real-life effects of this role reversal on your family life?

“I’m originally from London, so when I was starting out, I didn’t have my family around me. My husband made the decision to drop some hours at work and dedicate that time to the household instead – which I’ve been fortunate to have. However, while I celebrate my freedom of being able to focus on my business, there’s one feeling that has always been hard to overcome, and not a lot of people openly talk about: guilt. You feel guilty at this role reversal: that suddenly, you’ve become the breadwinner; you feel guilty that you’re not spending enough time at home and when you do, you feel guilty you’re not investing enough in your business! It’s so important to commit to a regime and make an investment in yourself to overcome these ‘guilty’ feelings.”

From running a tight ship to plain sailing: tips for business mums

In a brilliant article on entrepreneur.com, Lisa Druxman writes “My family flourishes most when I run it like my business”. I asked Theresa if she identified with this statement: “It sounds a bit authoritarian!”, she laughs, “but I do agree. For me, this means allocating specific ‘family time’: phones off, feet up, and absolutely no talking business! It’s not all plain sailing though, and often, the flexibility of your work sometimes isn’t as flexible as you’d like, so you’ve got to be strict. Running a business and being a mum is a tough job – and I’m still learning how to run myself like a business: I’ve got a really strong work ethic, and I’m definitely guilty of not carving out any ‘me’ time.”

For any woman thinking of starting their own business, Theresa suggests these three tips:

  1. Be in business for yourself, not by yourself – but always look after yourself! Listen to your own needs. Don’t short change yourself by never giving yourself that essential ‘me’ time that you need.

 

  1. Base your business on your passions: this way, you will be able to better listen to what your business needs, allowing it to grow organically.

 

  1. Finally, I asked Theresa to share an inspirational quote to celebrate International Women’s Day:

 

“Behind every great business woman… is a really great team! I couldn’t do anything without my team behind me. Always remember how important it is to reward, praise and thank them.”

 

Happy International Women’s Day from the Nemo swimming team!

Are you reeled in by the idea of starting your own business? Find our Nemo swimming franchise opportunity at https://nemoswimming.co.uk/nemo-swimming-franchise/