Sing your way to fitness!

by Creative Homes

Playing with your baby is good for your health, your home and your heart

Marit Vestby, lead artist for Lewisham Homes tells Prya’s family story

I first met Prya when door knocking, she was on her way out to the baby clinic with her 6 month old baby Akansha. As I handed her a flyer and explained about the playgroup, she said ‘English not so much’. Next week I knocked again, she smiled – she recognised me: ‘Next week maybe’. The following week she came to the playgroup and we booked a baby home consultation with her.  Prya said “ I’m struggling to lose the weight after having my baby and I’m unhappy about this”. So on the first home visit we wanted to share with her fun, creative ways she could play with her baby and at the same time exercise by stretching, lifting and rocking using her baby as ‘weights’. 

At this first home visit Prya’s parents from Sri Lanka were there, first lingering in the doorway but by the end they were both joining in singing and engaging in the activities. Through creative play we used objects like scarves, lycra material, ribbons and mirrors to practise tracking (following objects with eyes from left to right) and tummy time with Akansha. After I demonstrated the different ways of holding, lifting and rocking Akansha, Prya tried it out herself. She was a little shaky and said “I’m unsure if I can manage”, but we repeated and practiced the different songs…

Here we go rocking Here we go rocking, rocking, rocking, here we go rocking forwards and back

Here we go rocking, rocking, rocking, here we go rocking forwards and backwards

… until Prya was confidently holding and moving and Akansha was smiling; she even fell asleep whilst I was holding her from all the physical activity and stimulation! Before we left we found some plastic bottles in their recycling bin and made some musical shakers by adding dried pasta and bells and screwing the lids on tight. This was to encourage them to continue playing with tummy time and tracking. We also left them with music and song words. 

On our way out, we noticed some mould on the walls. Prya said “we are struggling with this, our baby is getting a rash, it won’t scrub away and we don’t know what it was called in English?”. I told them it was called ‘mould’ and explained where to go to find the housing office. 

open, close and open, close, don’t get in a muddle
open, close and open, close, give yourself a cuddle

By the next Creative Homes visit Prya had spoken to the Housing Office and repairs were scheduled. Akansha’s dad was there and he joined in the play. Prya wanted to practice the action songs and the exercises. This time she led the songs with confident holding, lifting and movement and Akansha’s dad had a go too! 

We left the family with a challenge to repeat three of the creative play exercises and action songs. A few days later we received videos on WhatsApp of Akansha’s twin brothers (aged 8) joining in. The whole family doing the action songs and laughing together as they rocked Akansha in a boat made of lycra fabric.

When visiting the family a couple of weeks later, Prya self-reported feeling happier and more confident in herself – “ I feel less stressed about twilight time and bedtime with the children”. She talked us through what her routine looked like now and how play with Akansha was now part of their daily life. Prya now sings and dances with her baby every day, the whole family play with Akansha regularly using the action songs and the boys are making up stories for her using the props we gave the family. Prya said “since you came I am getting fitter!”.  I cast my eye over to the corner of the lounge, she had even bought an exercise bike. We also noticed during our visits that Prya’s English was improving each time. Prya pointed out at the beginning she felt quite isolated, but during our time at the hub, All In One Tuesdays at the local Honor Oak Community Centre she had got more involved in the local area, coming to the playgroup and also attending our Tooth Fairy experience at the local dentist, where she also registered Akansha. 

At Creative Homes we take a playful approach to helping families identify and overcome challenges in their daily lives. Our baby play experience includes playful activities focused on movement and action songs for families to do together. Repeating these and working towards building lasting, positive daily activities helps increase the bond with your baby, increase daily physical activity and build a family’s confidence and capability. 

Creative Homes is proud to have helped Prya and her family but even more proud of them rising to the challenge and making positive change to their daily life.   We leave them happier, healthier and playing their way through the day.

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