Finding balance and feeling content is so difficult to achieve, we spend a lot of time being the person or listening to the person who complains about work or the kids, or both! So it was absolutely refreshing to meet Heather, mum of four and Water Babies instructor and hear her genuinely rave about her work and life as a mum.
The fascinating thing about Water Babies instructors is that most of them have built their career in the pool after taking their own babies to the classes. This is certainly true of Heather who has had at least one baby or toddler in the Water Babies pool since 2013 and still has 2 of her 4 children taking classes today. Along that journey Heather was successful in becoming an instructor herself and now teaches 3 days a week at Princes Primary and Springwood in South Liverpool
All Water Babies instructors across the country attend an intensive training course in Cornwall where they live and learn together for 8 consecutive days following weeks of study in advance. The training involves being in the pool for between 8-10 hours a day and covers the scientific principles of swimming. During the training instructors gain an advanced diploma in baby swimming placing them amongst the most highly qualified baby swim teachers in the world! The training is notoriously tough, particularly if you’ve left your family at home for the week to carry it out (8 days child free may sound like a dream but we all know we miss them after 8 minutes… Ok 2 hours… Alright the first day!) To add to the challenge, Heather’s training landed on the first week of December when she traditionally decorates the house with her kids. She rushed to get a christmas tree up before she left, it remained bare, but it was up nonetheless! Heather had ensured the kids wouldn’t miss out on a week of December without a tree and her four beautiful babes returned the favour by ensuring she didn’t miss another of their traditions. Halfway through the week a letter arrived at the cottage where all the trainee instructors were staying, after some confusion as to who was sending post to her temporary address she opened a letter from all four children containing the first 7 advent calendar chocolates they had opened for her at home. If that’s not a great motivator to get you through your training, I don’t know what is!
After feeling the love in Cornwall and completing a series of mentored and assessed lessons as well as safeguarding, lifeguard and data protection courses, Heather was now able to independently plan and deliver sessions for babies and toddlers. A task that goes into far more depth than she had ever imagined as a parent in the pool. When observing a Water Babies session it is easy to underestimate the planning and developmental reasonings behind the activities the babies are doing. Just as we talked about twinkle, twinkle in the post A Quick Flash! https://growliverpool.home.blog/2019/03/13/a-quick-flash-water-babies-week-3/ repetitive actions, songs, use of toys and phrases are there to create associations allowing the babies to remember the correct responses in future classes. Heather explained that up to Chapter 6 all babies work through the same outcomes and exercises but from Chapter 6 onwards classes are personalised to the group in order to ensure each swimmer meets Water Babies and Swim England’s outcomes. On top of that instructors plan for different child development stages and work towards the sticker skills in the book. Heather can spend several hours a week planning for her sessions, including the main plan and several alternative activities based on the group’s ability and response.
The planning though does not deter Heather and when asked about stand out moments in the job so far she commented on the turning points of two babies who had struggled in the early sessions but had overcome their difficulties in weeks 3 and 4 leading to their first underwater swims. As a mum who has experienced the early day wobbles of a Water Baby I can vouch for the value of an instructor who has been in that same boat, 4 kids and 6 years later there’s a good chance Heather probably has.