Victoria feels like a 'normal mum' again

Date published: 29 April 2021

Lockdown has affected us all in different ways.

When it comes to physical activity, some of us have stepped things up - going running for the first time or taking long walks.

Others will have experienced illness, had to care for others or simply found it all too much.

As lockdown eases and our leisure centres and gyms reopen, the Chronicle will explore what getting fit means to some people from our Oldham community.

This week we have spoken to local woman, Victoria Russell, aged 29, a first-time mum who is currently on maternity leave.

Victoria was delighted to take her five-month-old son to Oldham Leisure Centre’s parent and baby swimming class.

Victoria said: “Having a baby in lockdown is not how I expected motherhood to be.

"I was obviously over-the-moon that my son, Theodore, is healthy and happy – but I hadn’t envisaged how lonely becoming a mum would be, even more so when everything is shut.

"My partner would to go work, leaving me and my son at home.

"The days seemed very long.

"I couldn’t get much support from friends and family due to the lockdown restrictions.

"I certainly did a lot of walking with my son in the pram to escape the monotony of lockdown and parenting; even our dog, seemed to be fed up with all the walks!

“When things started to reopen, I was really excited to get back out in the world and introduce my son to some more experiences and social interaction.

"He’s missed out on so much.

“A few years ago, I had learnt to swim as an adult at Oldham Leisure Centre, and I was therefore very keen for him to get used to the swimming pool and being in water, and for him to swim as it’s such a valuable life skill.”

Victoria booked the session online, and the Oldham Community Leisure website has information about its COVID guidelines and health and safety procedures to ensure everyone is kept safe.

Victoria added: “We were both buzzing from the class - it just felt so normal.

"Theodore loved being in the warm pool.

"He was really giggly and was kicking his legs loads.

"He enjoyed being somewhere different and was looking around all the time at the space and at the other babies and parents.”

The ‘baby and parent’ session is run by a swimming teacher and includes lots of songs and nursery rhymes.

It’s interactive and multi-sensory and helps babies get used to being in water and getting their faces wet.

Victoria said: “The session wasn’t just for my son; the atmosphere is really chatty and welcoming and it was nice to be with other parents and their children.

"The leisure centre is really clean, the procedures are very clear, the pool is lovely and the instructor is really dynamic.

"What’s more, it got me out the house, and my arms got a great work-out from holding and lifting my son in the water.

"After the session, we both went home and had a long nap.

“It's so important that babies and children become water confident, but these sessions also allow me to feel like a ‘normal’ mum, to feel connected to my community, to meet new people, and to get out of the house.

"Overall it’s so positive for both mine and my son’s wellbeing.

"I’ve already booked my session for next week!”

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