When Gillian Keneghan moved home from London to a small commuter town in Ireland, she wasn’t prepared for the isolation and loneliness she would feel. A Law graduate of UCD, Gillian returned home to be a teacher, with her husband Damien and 10-week-old son Senan. Gillian knew no one where she lived, her family lived far away and the hours that her husband was gone to work felt like ‘an endurance test’.
Gillian’s story isn’t unique. There are plenty of lonely mothers out there, looking for connection within the community but unable to reach out. The difference with Gillian’s story however, is that she did something about it. Over the past year, the first-time mum has been working on an idea; Babyclasses.ie, which just launched this week.
‘I knew I needed to get out and meet other new mums, add a routine to my weeks and basically break up the monotony of my days. I started looking for local baby classes that Senan and I could go to... but time after time my search results came up with nothing. Frustrated and feeling more isolated than ever, I spoke with friends and family and discovered they had had similar experiences of struggling to find local baby classes. It was then that the idea for babyclasses.ie was born!’
Appreciating first-hand the importance that baby classes can play in the early days of motherhood, Gillian was determined to help support these small Irish businesses to thrive after the pandemic. She wants to reassure any ante-natal, post-natal, or baby class providers that this platform can offer that support by letting parents discover and book onto the amazing classes they offer, hassle-free either online or in person.
Babyclasses.ie is Ireland’s only baby classes directory. It lists all the baby classes (both pre and postnatal) on one platform, enabling time-strapped parents to discover new classes in their local area, providing all the relevant class information, and facilitating the secure booking of classes in just a few clicks!
The last year has been a crazy year for everyone, and it has been especially trying and isolating for new parents who have missed out on ante-natal classes and bonding with other expectant parents. Gillian’s hope is that by taking the hassle out of searching for engaging baby classes, the platform will help parents connect with other parents through attending baby classes and offer new mums the opportunity to redefine their maternity leave and build lasting friendships with fellow “pandemic parents”.
‘Babyclasses.ie has the scope to become a lifeline for isolated parents,’ says Gillian. ‘Given the difficult year new parents have had, how cut off and isolated they have felt – babyclasses.ie is a free to use resource that can evoke a sense of community and connect new parents all over Ireland. It can spread hope that there is a light at the end of this awfully long and lonely tunnel!’
‘I want the Platform to be that much needed bridge linking new and soon-to-be parents with the best baby class providers in Ireland. I don’t want parents to have to struggle in isolation as I did, I want them to know that there is a growing community of support at their fingertips.’
The platform launched on the 12th of April and there has been an outpouring of support from parents and class providers alike. The number of class providers and variety of classes on offer is growing daily. Within the first 24 hours of granting login access to class providers, teachers from all four provinces of Ireland had signed up. The classes on offer are hugely varied and range from baby massage to fitness for mums, baby music and rhythm sessions to pregnancy yoga. The beauty of the platform is that parents get unrivalled and hassle-free access to the best classes while the class providers can grow their businesses and expand their offerings.
Mums are already sharing their excitement at the opportunity to connect within the community;
“Really excited for this! Great opportunity for us teachers and such a handy resource for parents! I remember being on Maternity leave and trawling through Facebook groups trying to find classes and things to do with my baby, this will be so much more convenient.” -Mel, owner of Babygra.ie
“As a first-time mum, I’m really looking forward to using the Platform! No more scrolling through social media or googling classes online, it will be fantastic to be able to find out about classes both in my area and online that I’d like to try with my little girl, all with the click of a button!” -Emily, mum to Aly