• Aisha Iqbal

Toddler-friendly Tuesdays at the Beeston Methodist Church

The Beeston Methodist Church runs a baby group (ABC - Adults Babies & Coffee) and a toddler group every Tuesday and it is so much cooler than it sounds!

You walk around through the parking lot and enter via a back entrance (wheelchair & buggy accessible!), usually blocked off by a large furniture item to stop the more adventurous tiny tots from escaping, are greeted by a kindly lady and enter a huge, open hall with stained glass windows and high church-like ceilings.

There are lots of red and yellow toy cars that toddlers can sit in and move along with their feet, you know the ones little kids always fight over? Thankfully there are quite a few of them at this unique toddler group.

I found out about it through a mum at the other toddler class I attend - she mentioned free coffee and I was sold, so the next Tuesday, I packed up Z in his pushchair and walked the 25 minutes to the church.

It runs every Tuesday during term-time from 9.30am to around 11.15-11.30am and is not a class or structured group but more of a flexible, friendly, child-centered space where your little one can explore and play and shove other toddlers who dare reach for the same toy as him (that is my dry sense of humour - all shoving toddlers are clearly told off and reprimanded gently by polite carers).

You can go anytime you want really but 9.30am is quite doable for most parents whose kids like to wake them up at the crack of dawn... Also, it costs just £1.50! There are toy cars, bikes, scooters, little slides, books, puzzles and more. Enough to keep scores of toddlers and brave big babies entertained!

Around 10.15am all the tots are gently led to small tables and chairs like in a hobbit-sized cafeteria, and the church volunteers bring out sippy cups of water and squash, and trays of biscuits (one per child please!). It is quite adorable to see how all the children sit and mostly eat quite peacefully, an example of gentle positive mob behaviour!

Then back to running amok while mums, grandmums, nannies and child-minders (haven't seen a dad in the two sessions I've been to!) try and grab a cuppa from the kitchen.

Quite funny to see how all the mums go get their well-earned caffeinated drink with a craning neck and eyes on their respective tot, hoping they don't get into too much mischief in the 90 seconds it takes to pick up your drink and biscuit (who doesn't love a free biscuit!?) from the kindly ladies pouring warmth and love into plain white mugs at the counter.

There is even a cute arts and crafts activity for the more staid tots who wish to explore their creativity and imagination, and the group ends with a singing session complete with bashing cymbals and incredibly loud tiny tambourines.

You can meet other harried friendly mums, have a chat if you want or just enjoy a cup of tea that someone else has made for you while your child busies himself with small cars and plastic fruits.

The second time I went was actually super busy but I got to talk briefly with a couple of really lovely ladies, just before Z decided to throw a tantrum. The good thing is, you don't really have to get too flustered with raging crying toddlers splayed out on the floor in toddler groups because let's face it - most of us have been there!

So if you're looking for something to do with your tots on a Tuesday morning, I recommend this warm and friendly group wholeheartedly.

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