Where it all began
I’d always been ambitious, and career orientated and when I started working for a large company within the financial services sector in 2011 I quickly worked my way up to management level. By 2015, I was a Project Manager, looking after exciting companywide projects and getting to work overseas. I’d hit the bingo in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I worked my socks off for it. But I was trusted, I was reliable. I loved my job. I had great friends at work. This was it for me, this company had my heart and soul.
Then it happened. Out of the blue (I say out of the blue…I’m aware of the birds and the bees). Life got turned upside down, pushed forward, pushed backwards and then spun around a few more times for good measure. I was pregnant. Pregnant with twins. Two babies. Two, there couldn’t be? Could there? I was in denial. I simply could not believe I was housing two babies.
After a turbulent pregnancy my babies were born at 32 weeks gestation. Oscar James and Imogen Charlotte, weighing 3lb8 and 3lb1 respectively, the day before my 28th birthday. Perfect, tiny angels.
From that moment, these two teeny, precious little things had my heart and I knew nothing more was important than being there for them. Whilst I was on maternity leave, I became a regular on the baby class circuit. I attended so many wonderful classes, I had this idea about a story time inspired baby class, but it just didn’t seem to exist in the area. I envisaged something a little bit magical, almost quirky. I questioned whether I could set this up myself. I loved storytelling, singing, dancing and babies, so why not?! There’d be bubbles and colours and music. I’d welcome everyone, Mums, Dads, Aunties, Bampas! I could call it Beaming Babies I dreamed, beaming because everyone would be so happy leaving my classes!
But no. There is no way, I thought. I can’t give up my career, everything I had worked so hard to build up over the years, my fantastic colleagues, the stability, the bonuses! So, thinking it was my only option, I put my dream to the back of my mind and dutifully returned to work full time. It was tough and I missed out on a lot. Slowly, it became apparent that I was unable to strike the work-life balance I wanted and sadly I was unable to obtain flexible working. I wasn’t being the mother I wanted to be.
When it all got too much, I decided to take a risk. I had to make a change and I had to make it work. Beaming Babies was never far from the back of my mind and I took a career break from work to spend time studying child development and learning theories. I did loads of research and reading and started writing a programme for babies up to 14 months which focuses on story time and sensory exploration. I met with the Tiny to Tots department at Cardiff University who provided me with plenty of academic papers surrounding my areas of interest which I was able to feed into the programme too. I also qualified as an Infant Massage Instructor so I could bring the wonderful benefits of positive touch to class and share ways to help promote bonding and secure attachment. However, being creative is my speciality so I loved this element – magic and imagination – pairing music with activities to take babies and their parents into the world of the book. But I enlisted the help of several Early Years professionals to ensure the programme was to the highest standard. A Primary Teacher, a Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist and a Health Visitor who all imparted their knowledge and experience to make sure the programme would be beneficial for both babies and their carers. However, I didn’t just want Beaming Babies to be a well written programme. I wanted it to be a safe, comforting and happy place for babies and their parents. The brand values are Inclusive, Caring and Expert (ICE) and these are the values I live by when delivering classes, when planning classes, when talking to people face to face or online. The ICE model is intricately embedded in every element of Beaming Babies. After the programme was written and I got some branding up and running, there was nothing left do but launch it and see if anyone would turn up.
In January 2019 I delivered the first Beaming Babies sessions, I had never been so nervous in my life. I’d taken such a huge risk and I hoped with every fibre of me that people would like it. And they seemed to. Slowly but surely the numbers grew. Every term throughout the first year I was adding more and more classes to accommodate parents and their babies, and I started to feel like this was going to be something I could be really proud of. Something that could make a difference to babies and their carers in that all important and special first year. It was amazing, I can’t even tell you how happy I felt and still feel when somebody tells me how much the programme has helped them. Whether that’s being a safe space to meet friends or learning about different games to play with their babies or helping people overcome anxieties about attending classes like this.
As Beaming Babies became more popular, I started to feel the strain of running classes on my own. Anyone who is self-employed will understand that you aren’t just what you do in the public eye. As well as running classes, there’s the cleaning of resources, lesson plans, admin, bookkeeping, marketing, social media, communication etc and I knew I was going to need to grow the team. After careful consideration and taking advice I decided that franchising the business would be the most effective way of growing the business whilst maintaining very high and consistent standards. I knew that I wanted Beaming Babies to grow geographically but it was so important to me that it didn’t lose everything that I had built it upon; a personal service, caring about each and every customer, a sense of family and community. Since making that decision, there are now two franchise owners. Shelley who owns Beaming Babies Carmarthenshire and Danielle who owns Beaming Babies Swansea, while I continue to run classes in Neath. I was so lucky to find Shelley and Danielle, who both attended Beaming Babies throughout the first year of their own babies’ lives. They are kind, caring and they understand the ethos of Beaming Babies.
If you attend a Beaming Babies class, you can expect to enjoy a variety of sensory activities all themed around our book of the week. We enjoy the same Hello song each week to welcome babies to class, the class leader delivers the story in an interactive way and this is followed by guided activities. Everything you do will be fully explained to you with reasons as to why it is benefiting you or your baby and we always aim to deliver a warm, welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Our classes are designed to support your baby’s cognitive, physical and social development as well as being a special time where you can give your baby your undivided attention. The great thing is, you can attend Beaming Babies for a full year and never experience the same class twice. There are over 40 thoughtfully and carefully planned out lessons each with their own unique storybook. I feel so lucky to have had lots of lovely reviews for Beaming Babies but this one really stands out for me because it was one of my first ever reviews, it came from an experienced education professional and I cried when I read it because I just couldn’t believe someone that I didn’t know could say this…
“A super taster session today. Classes have a literacy focus, delivered by the wonderful Kelly. Activities were carefully planned to engage and stimulate babies, with lots of variety: from splashing around in water to quiet sensory time. Kelly is wonderful. She explains the benefits of the different activities without the jargon: perfect for baby brained mamas! This class has definitely covered the gap in the market! Well done! Can’t wait to join you for more sessions xx”
And if I had to share a review that’s made me laugh the most, it has to be this one..froth at the mouth!
“Well where to start?! If you want your baby to enjoy themselves so much they froth at the mouth pick this class for the term! My 6 month old could not get enough at the Swansea class today! There was everything from stories, song, play and we even had a little baby band at 1 point. I literally cannot contain my excitement for next week! Thank you so much Kelly!”
My vision for Beaming Babies now two-fold. I want as many babies and their carers to experience it as possible and hope we can bring some joy, learning and happy memories to the first year. But also to give as many people as possible the opportunity to run their own successful business whilst giving them the flexibility to work around their family life. These early years are so important with our children, before we know it they’ll be grown up, and I am so glad I found an outlet to channel my drive and ambition through running my own business alongside having flexibility and freedom to suit my family needs.
If you would like to start your Beaming Babies journey with your little one we would love to welcome you to one of our classes. You can visit the website to find your nearest class or if you are interested in starting your own franchise with Beaming Babies you can express interest by emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be more opportunities later this year and I would love to hear from you if you think we could be a good fit for each other!
Thank you to Elicia for asking me to share the Beaming Babies story and thank you, for taking the time to read.