Growing up in a pandemic is not something that any new parent can prepare for. In terms of children’s development, 12 months has seen countless missed opportunities in relation to cognitive and social stimulation that they would normally get outside of the home.
Experts have witnessed toddlers’ delays in speech and language as well as trouble sharing and being in groups. For new parents, Covid has had a worrying impact. Babies In Lockdown, an online survey of expectant mothers and new parents, reported that 87% of parents were more anxious as a result of the lockdown and 61% shared concerns about their mental health.
The report highlighted that a big part of this was that many parents felt isolated and anxious, without the support from loved ones and professionals. Jiggy Wrigglers, a children’s activity provider, has seen first-hand the effects of lockdown and has been busy thinking of ways they can help once allowed. The franchise network provides music and movement classes, which will help develop babies and children’s sensory capabilities while offering a fun and social activity. The classes are for children age 0-5 and feature lots of games and activities set to music. One of the most important aspects is the support and social interactions, vital for new parents.
Over lockdown, the franchisees have been running virtual classes to allow children and their families to interact and now they are going one step further by taking their classes outside in parks, in line with the Government roadmap.
“It’s incredibly important to reopen now, it’s been a tough year but we have all the measures in place and the confidence that we can run securely and in a safe manner,” explains Alice Kew, Jiggy Wriggler’s franchisee at Andover and Hampshire . “Parents and children need to socialise and to be around other people in a fun capacity. I’ve taken the classes outside as it seems the right step to helping customers feel comfortable re-joining groups. The transition from lockdown to indoor groups is going to be a big one, so if we can take a smaller transition to outdoors first where people can become reacquainted with classes, as well as feeling safer in the open air, then I think it will help those children and adults to ease back in.”
Sarah Haydon, the franchisee in Basingstoke, who is all set to open outside agrees: “The parents are looking forward to a bit of normality too as well as being able to socialise for themselves and their little ones. It can be so isolating at home alone with small children so being able to get out the house again for something like a Jiggy class is exciting. I’m so happy to bring some normality and fun as well as support to the parents and children who attend.”
It can be the very small things that mean so much to new parents as Sara Whiteley, the franchisee in Locksheath found. “During lockdown, I offered live and pre-recorded sessions, bedtime stories and I kept in constant communication with parents to chat with them and talk through their daily challenges,” says Sarah. “As well as the little ones learning to socialise with other children, it is going to be so lovely to watch the enjoyment of being with others and having a chat over a cuppa. I’m deliriously happy to be welcoming back my Jiggy families and meeting new customers.”
Zoe Moore, the franchisee for Kidderminster and Bridgnorth reopens on Wednesday at Bridgnorth Rugby club,”I feel incredibly happy and so excited to be returning to face to face classes not only to meet new faces but also to watch babies and children progress which is so heart warming to see. Opening classes for many new parents to be able to get out and enjoy themselves and their little ones and meet other parents. It is really important for babies and young children to be able to socialise and I can’t wait to watch them flourish again. The last past 12 months has really taken its toll on everyone’s mental health and caused people to feel isolated, being able to reopen again and get back to some sense of normality feels great and I’m sure many parents will feel really comforted knowing that they can go to group with people in a same situation as them where everyone can just start having fun again”.
There has been a lot of attention regarding how groups such as Jiggy Wrigglers are so important to help with feelings of isolation and loneliness. “As well as the interaction for parents, babies and toddlers have missed out on many experiences because of lockdown,” says Katie Clunn, Managing Director of Jiggy Wrigglers. “We felt that it was important to open up face to face classes as soon as we were given the go-ahead to bring back some much-needed interaction for families. I’m so proud of all of our franchisees who have really gone the extra mile and set up outside sessions in their communities to get children and their parents smiling again.”
The Jiggy Wrigglers franchise offers a rewarding and flexible career opportunity, with many franchisees being parents themselves. With the focus now firmly on the value of activities for young children, it is a great time to join the franchise.
Katie will be running a number of virtual Discovery Den sessions where you can find out more about joining the Jiggy Wrigglers network.