Feeling pleased that maternity leave would at least relieve me of networking events for a while, I have now discovered a new form of torture. Baby groups. Unlike networking events I don't have an MA and ten years' experience in the subject matter. When it comes to being a Mum I'm barely an apprentice.
My first baby group experience was a strangely soulless affair. No one welcomed me, no one offered a cup of tea or coffee, there were no name badges, no bottles of water with overly complicated opening mechanisms, no croissants or canapés (devils food when you're expected to make polite conversation and not spit filo prawns over strangers) and, seemingly no purpose or structure.
The "hosts" admitted to not really knowing what they were doing and started the session by asking what normally happens followed by singing some randomly selected nursery rhymes. They were like really bad supply teachers.
The rest of the session was a free for all of noisy and brightly coloured toys. Babies were crying and mums seemed to just talk louder to be heard over it all. At nine weeks, Harry seemed overwhelmed and in need of lots of reassurance. I fed him and cuddled him and kept checking my watch in the hope that it would all be over very soon.
Instead of my CV, I repeated Harry's name, age, birth weight, type of delivery and how well he sleeps to four other mums. And yes, I did ask for the same information on their little cherubs too. What good that information is to me now I've no idea.
Don't get me wrong, it was nice to get out of the house and try something new, the other mums seemed nice enough and it has inspired me to sing to Harry more often. But, it was an unwelcoming and unstructured environment, seemingly lacking in purpose for mum or baby. Please don't make me go again!!