Boomchikkaboom

I realised a few days ago that while I have mentioned Boomchikkaboom a few times on the blog and on Facebook and Twitter. However, I have never done a dedicated post on them…

Well our Boomchikkaboom journey started when Heidi was about 15 months old (it was Baby Rave North back then!) and it was probably the first class that we went to together. I’d seen so many great photos/videos/reviews online and if I’m honest, it did take some courage to go.

My thoughts raced between “should I be exposing my child to a rave?“, “am I cool enough for this?” and “will I be the only single dad there?“. I think it boiled down to the fact that I didn’t have much confidence in myself or my parenting abilities at the time.

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Is this the largest parachute in Leeds?!

Well as time has moved on, I realised that not much can be done about the mum/dad ratio. However, it need not have mattered because as the classes are one-offs, there are no cliques and everyone is there just to enjoy it! Yes, first time was a bit strange, but it certainly beats singing boring nursery rhymes in a village hall. This is 21st century kids entertainment!

Part of me wishes that we would have gone when Heidi was much younger. This is because the light/noise sensory experience must be amazing for a baby and it is so good to see so many attend. If you’re going with a little one, just sit a bit away from the speakers and you’ll be fine. Also, you’ll be away from the “crush” to pop the bubbles from the terrible 2 year olds!. On a serious note, everyone looks out for each other and it is perfectly safe for all ages.

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No-one is safe from the bubbles!

Now that Heidi is almost 4, we have done virtually all the Boomchikkaboom events, from baby rave to family rave to preschool workshops to hip hop history month celebrations to Fathers Days (my treat to me!) although I REFUSE to do messy play!!!! I can’t remember a time when I was disappointed by the class. After each class, I feel alive and invigorated and so I can only imagine how the little ones feel afterwards.

(True story, after our first class, Heidi slept for 3 hours in the middle of the day because the sensory experience was so strong!)

Perhaps the best thing about Boomchikkaboom is the people behind the microphone/scenes. You’re not dealing with a massive brand, you’re dealing with local people. They really care about giving you and your little ones a good time as well as being immensely talented. It does help that they are a bit mad as well!!

I don’t know if Heidi will ever grow out of wanting to go to “big girl baby raves”. However, given the number of glow sticks we have and the fact we’re onto our second disco ball, I’m guessing that I have a little longer to try and get my moves down!

(Hopefully this video will show her excited reaction to being told that we were going to a “big girl baby rave”)


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Dadstastic!

Fathers Day 2016 was the inaugural Dadstastic event organised by Leeds Dads, headed up by Errol Murray, held at Leeds City Museum. I hope that it is the first of many more to come!

The event was celebrating all things “dad”. However, very little was “dad” focused. It was child focused, which is exactly how it should be. Hopefully mums felt as welcome as dads.

The event was also celebrating all that is good about Leeds (and the surrounding area) in terms of children’s entertainment and activities. When you look around, and hopefully my blog backs this up, Leeds has some wonderful things for children to get involved in. It should be something the city is proud of.

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In fact, one bad thing about writing this is not being able to link everyone in who made it a success, so please use the comments section! Truth be told as well, we were there for 3 hours and didn’t get round to most of what was happening. That shows how much there was going on at Dadstastic!

The Activities

Our little plan initially took us to a Frozen singalong with Suzie Sparkles aka Elsa. Now, I am very lucky as we have never seen the film. This meant that we were at a slight disadvantage! However, Elsa was wonderful with the children, young and old, and the ample distribution of lollies also helps! Even pass the parcel was a success with no-one getting upset over not being able to win!!

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After that we had our face painted (well, Heidi, not me!) and whilst challenging them by asking for a ladybird, it looked lovely and even Anna seemed impressed!!! What was also good was the fact that there was a number of face painters so the queue wasn’t long!

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So after a quick lunch stop, we went to the fabulous Boomchikkaboom. I have written about the fabulous times we have had with Faye and Natalie on numerous occasions (for example here), but they are truly brilliant.  However, Heidi seems to have been going to too many of their events as she seems to want to run the class!! The class was so good, we even had bubbles and foam. However, we did find out foam and face paint don’t go well together!!

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Straight from there we headed off to the Northern School of Contemporary Dance class. This class was a bit too energetic for all the parents sat on the side, as we were all every tired at this point!!! The teacher, Sam, was really good at involving all of the children, be they 2 or 10. I thought that Heidi might be a bit too young. However, it was ideal, except the fact that she can’t balance on 1 foot!!!

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A Dadstatic End

That took us to the end of the Dadstastic event, except for a big group photo to finish. All in all, nearly 2,000 people were in the museum on Fathers Day, which is amazing. The cafe ran out of most food, and there was lots of happy yet tired faces leaving the museum at the end of the event.

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Obviously, if Dadstastic happens in the future, please support it. It is a wonderful event, set up by a great set of dads, with the support of local organisations.  I am pretty sure the country hasn’t got a similar event and that alone makes it special. The fact is was held on Fathers Day was the cherry on the cake!

Continue reading Dadstastic!

Boomchikkaboom

We have long since been a huge fan of Baby Rave North (see one of my very early posts here). For the first time after the rebrand, we went to a Boomchikkaboom class. This time for a Preschool Workshop, called “Around the World”.

Hosted at the wonderful Mumspace at Mothercare, Crown Point in Leeds, we made our way in the lift to the private room. For once, we got our timings right so I wasn’t emotionally blackmailed to buy the entire stock of the Early Learning Centre upstairs!

As everyone made their way in, the toddlers ran about. They turned a perfectly set out room into a complete mess! However, they tidied up well (why don’t they do that at home!) and soon we were underway.

I have to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect before it started. The “traditional” Baby Raves are brilliant but they are clearly for the younger end. However, knowing the guys behind Baby Rave/Boomchikkaboom, it was always going to be good. And it was.

The children are encouraged to act their way through a story. In our case, it was going on an adventure to a number of different countries. They were encouraged to do some of the things associated with each country. This included pretending to pack a suitcase, going on an aeroplane and eating some local foods. My particular favourite was the “baby massage”. This meant that I could actually keep Heidi in one place and feel like I was getting involved!!

Using the parachute as a tent

Having always been really hands-on helping Heidi through her activities, this is a perfect opportunity to let go a little bit and so she can be more independent. However, I do feel like a bit of a spare part at times, and a little sad that I am not needed quite as much!! I can’t imagine what I’ll be like when she goes to school!

It is certainly more “grown-up” than a Baby Rave. Whilst the shakers and pom-poms are still used, there weren’t any nursery rhymes and the music was used less as the children acted out the scenes.

To get the most out of it, your child needs to be good on their feet as there is a lot of running/movement and want to be creative with their mind. I think that anything from 2 to 5 years of age would be ideal to be honest.  As a result, make sure whichever event you book is age appropriate for your child.

All in all, the Boomchikkaboom class lasted 45 minutes and included the famous parachute and foam! It was really good fun and now I’m trying to work out the next time I can go to a Boomchikkaboom class.

If you have never been to one before, just give it a try. They are completely different to everything else that is out there, from new borns upwards, and really uplifting and energising.  You will be hooked on them, like we are!

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Is this the largest parachute in Leeds?!

PS You may wonder why all the photos are of foam and parachutes, it was because I was either having too much fun watching/taking part or Heidi was moving around too quickly for a decent picture!

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You WILL have this foam blown in your face!

Continue reading Boomchikkaboom

Breakfast with Santa – 13/12/2015

With Heidi about 2 1/2 years old, this has been the first year where we have tried to get her “into” Christmas. Previous years, it has gone over her head completely, but this year has been different.

Heidi has been taken to many Santas this year just to build her up and to make her feel comfortable with the Big Man! This has meant that she has started to understand that Santa is and in fact, it is a special occasion at a special time of year.

The Santas who we have seen have been your traditional grottos in the usual places (garden centres etc) and there is nothing wrong with that at all – you know what to expect!

However, Baby Rave/The Grotto, Leeds have done something a little different – Breakfast with Santa! Hosted in the ground floor of the Corn Exchange in Leeds, we headed down on a Sunday morning for our pre-booked session (pre-booking is highly recommended!)

If you have never been into Leeds City Centre, sometimes it isn’t the best for parking, particularly down that end and so we got the train (aka Polar Express/Northern Rail!) and did a 10 minute walk. (There are loads of bus stops nearby as well!)

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Upon finding where breakfast was being served, there was a really simple but clever thing – a mini bouncy castle, just so that the little ones could burn off some energy and kill a few minutes without stressing out their parents!

Anyway, the breakfast was a very intimate session, as there was only 10 children and so it was nice for the children to get close but not being put on the spot with a one-to-one conversation but the kids could strike up a chat if they wanted to. The looks on the children’s faces was priceless when they saw Santa coming into the room!

As there was only 10 children in the room, it really did feel special and heart-warming and nothing felt rushed, nothing felt forced and it just flowed right (and no child had a tantrum!)

After 15-20 minutes of being sat with Santa during story time, there was an opportunity for photos with Santa and any combination of parents/children you want! Photos were uploaded onto Facebook and they were brilliant quality! (as always!)

I should actually mention the breakfast itself…the breakfast is only for the children! Also, we found that food was the last thing on Heidi’s mind – after all, she was a yard away from Santa!!! It might be an idea for the little ones not to arrive on an empty stomach as they might not feel like eating!

As Santa was finishing off his hundreds of individual photos, a side room was opened for the kids to run and play with toys etc with the usual Baby Rave vibes/music!

Once everyone had done their photos, Santa came back into the room for some dancing, bubbles and “snow”!! This worked absolutely perfectly for Heidi and will do for similar aged children as if they had to spend longer eating with Santa, they would have got bored and the edge would have been taken off it, but by having the opportunity to run, play and dance, it broke it up nicely.

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A couple of things:
1) in the break out rooms, the lights are dark and changing, therefore difficult to take a good photo (I have never taken a good photo at a Baby Rave event!) As a result, the best photos are in the breakfast room!

2) there is no gift. For some this might be an issue, but the gift is a child who has just had a wonderful experience! (as well as a breakfast!)

3) all in all, it lasted about 45 minutes, just about right!

It was such a wonderful experience and in future years, this will probably be the only Santa that she gets to see, as it was so good and so special – next year it will be quality as opposed to quantity and this was of the highest quality!

It would be wrong of me to fail to mention that there is a whole host of other Christmas activities going on at the Corn Exchange, from traditional grottos, to Elsa/Spiderman workshops – which sound really cool and will be explored next year (I am probably too old for the Spiderman one!) Probably the best place to find out is to Facebook “The Grotto, Leeds”

Merry Christmas!

Baby Rave North

The usual weekend preview is to follow, but tomorrow is an event that I wish that I could go to with H and that is “Rave in the Park” in Charlie Cake, Armley, Leeds, LS12 3RP, held by Baby Rave North (http://www.babyravenorth.co.uk – Facebook/Twitter as well) at 10.30am and 1pm. The event is free and the weather looks to be set fair so there is no excuse not to go…

As my colleagues at work can attest, I am a fully fledged Baby Raver with H.  We have been to about 6 events in various locations and while it sounds a bit strange, the concept really works.

If you have never been, it is an upbeat baby/toddler session to upbeat songs and adults and toddlers are encouraged to dance and sing along. While some of the songs are classic nursery rhymes, some are call and response which is good fun, and the best part of it (for the kids at least) is the environment in which is is held. The room is dark with bright disco lights and this creates sensory overload for the youngsters (clearly not applicable for the outdoor event!) One problem with the dark room and bright lights is that is is a nightmare for taking decent photos!!

 

You are best advised to book ahead and the session lasts for just under an hour, which is a good length of time for the little ones. When I took H for the first time, she was so exhausted afterwards, she slept for 3 hours straight in the middle of the day, which shows how it stimulates the kids.

As I said, we have been to about 6 events, a few have been held in Mothercare at the Crown Point Shopping Centre, which is an ideal location, but the best one was a free Hip Hop event held in November time at Leeds City Museum. As it was a Saturday afternoon, we took the grandparents down as well to see the event and they loved it too, and by doing that, it gave them the confidence to go to these types of things if H wanted to go at a time when I couldn’t go. Also, by Leeds City Museum opening their doors at the event, we have found it to be a hidden gem in the city (more on a future blog post!). There are numerous different events from the mini-baby raves to the Christmas raves and the themes of the raves seem to change quite often, which keeps things fresh.

Sometimes when you go to these events, you wonder if the little ones actually enjoy it and for Baby Rave, I certainly know that H loves it. I know this because whenever she sees her disco ball, she tries to put it on (NOT advisable for kids to play with plugs!) and wants the lights turning off so we can have a DIY baby rave while she dances around. Granted, it is nowhere near as good as the real thing, but what can you do?!

Anyway, put Baby Rave North on your to-do list, regardless if you have a 3 month old or a 3 year old – you won’t regret it!!

I say Boom-chic-a-boom…..