Before I had my daughter Lyla (now 2), I was jokingly known as ‘The Fixer’. I ran events of all shapes and sizes all over the world and I always knew a man who knew a man; if I needed something, I knew where to go and got it done. The bigger the challenge, the more I loved it.
Flash forward to April 2010 and our brand new, grown up role as ‘The Parents’. And the start of the steepest learning curve of our lives – think more crazy off piste than gentle red run!
Our story is no tougher than anyone else’s; labour was hard (the clue is in the name), breastfeeding a struggle and we had no clue what we were doing most days. I was exhausted all the time. We felt an enormous pressure to ‘get things right’ – whatever that means!
During the early weeks and months, we found it tough to get hold of information we trusted on the things we were finding tricky but felt were really important. I went from being ‘The Fixer’ to being ‘Foxed’ by a bewildering array of conflicting information and advice online; an overworked health visitor tried her best, but had 3000 other families to look after too.
I was surprised that even going to Mum/Dad and Baby groups, it could feel really lonely. It was nice talking to other parents, but people were in their own tired little bubbles a lot of the time (including me). The best sessions were those lead by a teacher with the rare skill of running a class, while encouraging chat and interaction so that everyone was involved. And juggling a bowl of fruit while whistling London’s Burning. (OK, I made that bit up, but you get the gist). In my experience, these were few and far between.
And it got me thinking.
Through my work, I had already seen first hand the magic that can happen when you get people together & create the right environment for them to share stuff and learn new things. I thought more opportunities like this could really help Mums and Dads.
I decided to talk to other parents about their experiences, what they wished they had more support with, how easy they’d found it to meet like minded Mums and Dads. Overwhelmingly the response confirmed my own experience:
- 84% wanted more informal opportunities to meet other parents
- 78% asked for access to reliable information on important things like sleep and weaning.
- And interestingly, many new Dads said they wished they’d had sessions that were just for just for them
I took what I knew from my event world, mixed in my own experiences and frustrations, added what other Mums and Dads told me they wanted - and From Little Seeds was born.
There has been a lot of ground work because I wanted to create a great experience that offers real value. Experienced, passionate speakers and bright, interesting venues with decent coffee were top of the list – definitely no dusty church halls, with someone who is qualified but disinterested or instant coffee!
This is one of our biggest challenges and we are constantly on the look-out for speakers who ‘get it’ (if you know of anyone….?)
Our sessions needed to be informative yet informal, with plenty of opportunity to chat and ask questions. So we have spent time crafting programmes that are valuable, practical and relaxed.
We have tried to do all of this without spending the earth; we want to offer good value, while being a great investment for the whole family.
We have launched with a small selection of sessions – including those sessions just for Dads (in the pub!) and a fantastic fussy eating course with a paediatric nutritionist and a Leiths trained chef. As well as a session on Sleep (oh, the elusive sleep!). But we have many more ideas up our sleeve. We are in Bristol at the moment but plan to expand to other areas soon.
Got any bright ideas for sessions? Send them our way, we’d love to hear from you!
So , what of The Fixer? Well, I don’t claim to have all the answers (although don’t tell my daughter that), but I do know plenty of very knowledgeable experts that can help. Maybe ‘The Fixer’ is back, but this time to help Mums and Dads through the tricky stuff. Providing a place to go to share experiences and make new friendships with people in the same boat.
From Little Seeds Grow run a wide range of practical and sociable workshops for new parents covering topics from sleep and the early days to weaning, fussy eating and nutrition, as well as sessions just for Dads.