September 6, 2016

busy babies

this week gabe and i started a baby swim course that i signed up for in the spring. it's taught by the midwife who did my home visits after the birth and was completely full two months before classes even began. baby swimming is apparently very popular in europe and is still giving me culture shock. i mean, what? swimming infants? who thought this was a smart idea? the only requirement is that your baby have good head control, so between four and six months. the idea is that the little ones experience how it feels to be in the water, but this also eventually includes "tauchen"(diving) in a later class. babies actually have a reflex that prevents them from inhaling water, so swimming underwater is possible, but it's still slightly terrifying. the more i observe the other mamas in my peer group the more i see that baby activities in general are filling up like nobody's business. other than swimming parents can also take baby massage classes, pekip (organized play and singing), kanga dance (baby wearing aerobics) and rückbildungsgymnastics (exercise classes paid for by the health insurance for women who have recently given birth). insanely, many mamas i know sign up for all or most of the above list, and this is well before their child is even six months old.

i have a few theories about this rush to fill the baby's calendar. there aren't many stay at home moms in germany, so possibly they're just bored out of their minds being housebound constantly and want to escape. it could also be that they want to cram as much good stuff into the time they have off before returning to work. i used to think they wanted to make other mama friends (that was my goal at least) but it doesn't seem to be terribly important. a typical course looks like this: show up, stare at the wall or your baby for the ten minutes before the class begins, take class and learn stuff, leave. as the shameless american i'm usually trying to strike up conversation about how old everyones' babies are, etc. but this is generally met with just a number and no further eye contact. here and there i'll meet someone as desperate for socializing as i am, but most german mutters view baby courses like they would calculus or sat prep. i'm not culturally versed on how competitive parents in germany are, but from an outside perspective it looks like they're already trying to give their kiddos a leg up before their first birthday. that, or they're just bored... maybe it's a combination of the two.

when things settled down after gabe was born in april i almost got pulled in by the pressure to do more and more "extracurricular" activities with him. at every mama meet up someone had heard of a new course to sign up for (the prices are quite good, usually not more than ten euro per session). after a couple weeks of baby massage, sport classes and normal dates with friends i finally had to sit down with daniel and clear our calendar. even though i'm thankful for so many options, i guess at the end of the day i'm just a big homebody and all of the stimulation wasn't good for me. opting out might mean missing possible friendships and social contact, but i know getting into the habit of having down time at home is important for our little family as well as myself. baby swimming stayed on the calendar mostly because i know the teacher and we received the most adorable steiff swim trunks from daniel's brother (very important!)

thankfully it seems i gave birth to the next michael phelps and gabe did awesome, especially at the backstroke, but he almost lost his cool when another baby splashed him in the face... maybe we need some work before the olympics. xoxo


  1. Anonymous9/07/2016

    You inspire me to many things, not least to get going on my blog again! :)

    1. thank you! looking forward to reading yours! (what's it called?)