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Guest Blog: My Journey from Postnatal Depression to Happy and Healthy with Only Girls Allowed

The following article was written by Patricia Jephson, one of the longest attending mums of the Only Girls Allowed fitness program. Cicciona’s is a proud partner with OGA and provides the childcare every week.


I started coming to OGA in January 2018. I had seen it advertised on Facebook from when it started but I couldn’t get myself there. I suffered from Postnatal Anxiety and eventually Postnatal Depression after my second daughter was born in 2016 and had recently moved to Worcester. At the start, my anxiety made it hard to leave the house but I was determined to do something to help myself.

That first session was hard. I tripped and fell flat on my face in front of everyone – it was circuits with Kirstie from Worcester Fitness Training. Then, afterwards, at the stay and play, I tried very hard to talk to the other mums but no one really spoke to me. I ended up retreating to the safety of my car, and cried on the phone to my husband.

But I was determined.

I went back the next week and the next. My daughter happily went off to play in the creche with Sarah and the other creche team members from Cicciona’s. I felt happy that she was in excellent hands. Slowly, I got to know Sarah and Laura (before she went on maternity leave) and then I got to know the other women who came most weeks.

Coming to OGA has been great for my confidence because I have had the opportunity to try things that I’ve never done before and have had a great time doing it! That hour every week when I don’t have to worry about anyone but me is invaluable; and my time at OGA has been one of the supports that helped me to overcome the anxiety and depression.

I think it’s also been good for my daughter because she has grown in confidence when I am not there. This meant that when she started nursery so that I could start my business, it wasn’t a shock and she was happy to go and play without mummy. She now asks if she is going to play with Sarah on Wednesdays and my older daughter is gutted that it doesn’t run during school holidays so that she could go too.

Last October, my confidence in myself was great enough that I started my own web design business, Black Pear Web Design, and Sarah was my first client!

I am so grateful for Kat and the Worcester Warriors Community Foundation because this program has had such a positive impact on my life. Now that I am expecting again, I hope to help in the creche on days that I can’t participate in the exercise. I want other mums to have the opportunity that I had to have that one hour to themselves. And I know I will be back with a new little one in tow.

If you are thinking of coming but struggle like I did, please come. Find me, I will be a familiar face happy to see you every week!

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Why on earth did I choose the name Cicciona’s ?!

It’s unpronounceable and it turns out it is really quite rude in Italian too.

This year I looked into changing the name but here’s why it’s a keeper –

The Nanny position I had in Italy was with a 6 month old baby girl (she’s now nearly 21 yrs old) every lunchtime & dinnertime I met with the family and lots of extended family for noisy mealtimes at Nonna’s house, on arrival Virginia would be bear hugged by Nonna and her cheek squeezed with an ‘Oh Cicciona!’

Through my broken Italian I took this to mean cute/chubby/cherub, loving words and the very essence of a doting Italian Grandmother.

Actually with a little help from google translation its more along these lines –

chubster /fatso /lardass / porker

In my defense for clearly not doing any proper research in to the word, it isn’t what you’d expect from Nonna.

This year we went on a family holiday to Italy, visiting Cento to see the family I had Nannied for 20 years ago. I took the opportunity to have a proper chat with Barbara, mother of said chubster child about whether it really is too rude and should be changed.

Yes Barbara agreed, it is rude BUT it is also very funny and definitely a keeper and yes… Nonna is one rude lady.

 

 

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You can have it all, we did ! Read on for how.

August 2017, the long awaited Wedding of my little brother !

From the start we all knew we wanted a Creche ;

To my Brother and his wife it was important they celebrated the day with the whole family and friends, the children are very much part of all our celebrations, but they also knew from babysitting the little treasures their limitations and wanted to know there was time for the adults to have some fun time too.

I, as a Mum to three boys, Bridesmaid with husband as an Usher needed to know there would be time to catch up with family & the boys would have time out to PLAY.

My boys 12, 10 & 4 along with 9 year old Niece know all about Creche’s from seeing the van loaded up ready for a Wedding Day. For my 4 year old Uncle Luke’s ‘crash’ couldn’t come too soon, getting his hands on all the lovely Arts and Crafts and those toys…..

The Bella Bello Boxes worked perfectly, entertaining all the children in Church, I love the picture below of my youngest, page boy clutching his Bello Box under his arm after the Ceremony.

The Boxes were still with the children the next day, the super hero masks were fun for all, my youngest played with his box while people cleaned up around him and the stretchy man was involved in a how far will he stretch competition – an amazingly long way !!

While the Wedding continued late into the night the children were fast asleep watched over by the Wedding Nannies. My Brother arranged big kid toys for the next day (see picture of Mule below) and a BBQ. Our children were all well slept and ready for the fun.

I think the pictures say it all ; the day was a wonderful mix of tears, belly laughing, gin drinking with cousins we don’t get to see enough. Thank you Rachel Lilly the photos are fabulous !!

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United or not in your decision to invite the children, Cicciona’s has some top tips for your Special Day

Inviting Children to your Special Day can be contentious. So whether you stand united or alone in your decision we have some top tips to help you.
Even Superheroes need help sometimes 😉
Saying no is never easy.
So being a step ahead will help. Guests may have all their family (and therefore babysitters) at the Wedding. Cicciona’s can send you flyers to send out with your invites.
We have Wedding Nannies available who can be at the Venue / at the parents hotel. And Evening Babysitters are available if you would like to suggest a child free evening. Contact sarah@ciccionas.wpmudev.host
The mid afternoon Wedding Breakfast is not a usual time for little ones to eat. To avoid those sugar highs and lows little rascals need to be fed regularly. Speak to your venue about child friendly canapes.
Many Parents will dread the Wedding Breakfast, children have sat for the ceremony, posed for photos and then there is the expectation for them to sit and behave at the meal. Forward plan – there will be looks of relief when parents spot child friendly favours on the table to channel the children positively. https://ciccionas.com/party-boxes

Children can only be expected to behave in an adult environment for so long.
Cicciona’s Creates a Children’s Creche, a wonderland of toys , books, fancy dress, mess free arts and crafts and so much more all in the safe hands of our highly experienced Nanny Team.
It is not about taking the children away from the Wedding it’s about a party of their own, creating special Wedding Day Memories, old fashioned party games are played… Pass the Parcel of course !
Rest assured the Creche is a calm setting as the children have had a busy day and they will return to the Wedding refreshed.

And booking a creche gets a party box discount ! Not bad, right?!

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Simple ways to keep you; the Bride and groom and children happy and parents relaxed at Weddings

As a Mum of three I completely empathise with the bride and Groom, families and the children about all the many challenges that come from inviting children to the Wedding.
But with just a few simple steps inviting the Children becomes child’s play. Children only have limited patience so catering to their shorter attention span is key= happy days for all.
The Ceremony, still early on in the day so most children will be excited and engaged. By giving them a little present on the way in to the ceremony subconsciously rewards them in advance for the good behaviour you want from them ; a basket by the church door on the way in with a note to say hello from the Bride and Groom, thanking them for coming and help themselves to a gift – Bella Bello Box / disposable camera for each child / a wedding word-search / a little bag of confetti
Canapes. Seriously important stuff. Keeping little ones sugar levels regular ensures the melt downs are reduced 😉 Take a look at our Pinterest Canape board for some pretty awesome ideas.
The Wedding Breakfast. Time for more pressies ! Keeping the children engaged is paramount now. Cicciona’s Bella Bello Boxes have been designed for this point right here ! They are absolutely crammed full of activities and toys to keep children focused for hours. A quick game of snakes and ladders with Granny, retro fortune fish telling with aunty, wordsearch with the help of Dad (who knew he could multitask and still chat to the other adults on the table ?!?) quiet time sticking, paper chaining & scratch art, nipping out between courses to fly gliders with new friends. The whole table getting involved with a game of “Who am I” !! All the way through to the evening disco with their glow stick bracelet at the ready. The boxes pack a huge punch, how far will the stretchy man stretch ?!
Speeches. These can be fidgit worthy for adults let alone children. Cicciona’s create a Children’s Creche; a Wonderland of play, toys, fancy dress, puzzles, books, games, mess free arts and crafts and so much more all in the safe hands of our highly experienced Nanny Team.
Cicciona’s is there to create special Wedding Day Memories for the Children.
Once booked in you will have a freebie winging its way to you !
Any childcare requests or questions you have about your Little Guests email sarah@ciccionas.wpmudev.host or call Sarah on 07906 051684.

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We tackle all the questions you want to ask

Cicciona’s Questions and Answers
“We have some parents who love the idea of the Creche and some who really don’t.”
Completely understandable. Parents don’t know us, they are welcome to call me before the day and run through routine and favourite things so we are prepared, we also recommend that those parents come in to the Creche, stay and play and chat to us. We have found that parents relax when they see their children playing in a Children’s Wonderland. We are also all in the venue so easily contactable and close by. We ask parents to put phones on silent and on the table and we can discreetly contact them if needs be.

 

“Can the children leave the Creche ?”
Absolutely, with a designated adult – children can be signed in and out as many times as you need. The Wedding Party children may be keen to get into the Creche but still be needed for photos, so they can come and play until needed. Some little Guests will be looking forward to hitting the dance floor ! When it all becomes too loud we find the children are dragging parents to bring them back to the Creche.

 

“We don’t want to confine the children to one room”
Children do not see it this way, we create a Children’s wonderland ; Dress up, Toys galore, Puzzles and the most amazing arts and craft with something for everyone, when the children step inside they arrive at a party for them away from the noise and hub bub of the Wedding. Safety is something we take really seriously, the children are either in our care or the care of the parents / family, having a room to sign them in and out of ensures there are no grey areas.

 

“Why would we want the Nannies when parents can look after the children ?”
The Nannies are there to play with the children, in trousers and t shirts they can sit on the floor and play cars, craft away and a little dribble on a Nanny’s shoulder is not a worry ! For Parents at the Wedding in suits and dresses this is a little more difficult. The Children can only be expected to behave for so long. Sitting and being nice through the ceremony, the photo’s, the meal and the speeches is a high expectation of even the most well behaved children.

 

“Can we have the creche in the same room as the Wedding Breakfast ?”
No, we put safety first. There would be a grey area on who is responsible for the children. The children would be distracted from the activities and so the money spent on the Childcare and equipment would be wasted.

 

“How can parents contact you during the creche without coming into the room ?”
We give out little ‘Hello’ cards with all our contact details on so we can be contacted at any time by a parent / carer. The creche is overstaffed so we can always pop out and find a parent / carer if the signal is poor.

 

“Can the Wedding party go into the Creche ?”
Yes ! Come on in. This is a family day. We just ask you close the door behind you ! We have lots of proud Grandparents wanting to show off their gorgeous Grandchildren, and it’s a great opportunity when they are engaged and playing. It is also perfect time for photos of the children relaxed and playing.

 

“Can anyone collect my child ?”
We have sign in / out forms to ensure only the people you have stated can collect your child. No grey areas for your peace of mind.

 

“Will there be enough staff ?”
This is SUPER IMPORTANT. We are always overstaffed over Ofsted regulations. The children do not know us so it’s important that we are able to act quickly before a child becomes upset, by being overstaffed we are very effective at this. I always check before hand if there are any children who won’t know anyone so we are prepared for them and ideally you would give us some information ie. They love Paw Patrol / Lego ! If a baby needs a walk in the pushchair to get to sleep or a little one needs a cuddle with a story after a busy time at the Wedding being overstaffed means we can offer an amazing level of care.

 

“How can we put Parents at ease ?”
Pass on our details before the day so they can have a chat with us, talk through routine, favourite toys and things to do, from Loom Bands and the latest craze to Peppa Pig we’ll make sure it’s at the Creche. Give time on the day for the Parents to sign the children into the Creche. The break after photos and before the Wedding Breakfast is a good time or between courses. Let them know we are, I’ll email you before the day to confirm the Creche team – We are always Over staffed, Highly experienced, Trained in Childcare, DBS checked, Pediatrically First Aided. We are fully insured with Wedding Insurance.

 

“You are strangers to us”
Yes, but very quickly not to the children. We are experts in our field (or creche!) Engaging with the children quickly is paramount. I can meet you prior to the Wedding Day to discuss your requirements and also let you know the Nannies and my background in childcare. I have run Cicciona’s since 2004, before that I was a professional Nanny for 10 years. I have three boys of my own. I am a Mum and professional and I am extremely careful to have the right people on the Team. I have provided a Creche to my Cousin’s Wedding and will be doing so again this Summer 2017 at my Brother’s wedding. My children can’t wait !! For them the Creche will be the best part of the day. And for me as a parent I can relax knowing they are safe, supervised, fed properly and having fun.

 

“What if a child won’t settle ?”
Wedding days are tough for children, with a change in routine and lots of built up excitement it can be unsettling. We give out Hello cards with our contact details and we have Parents / carers contact details on our sign in forms. We are guided by Parents / Carers on how long the child should be upset for before we call them. If we can’t get in contact on the phone then we are overstaffed and so one of the Nannies will go and find the parent. We very often find children are hungry on arrival and eating redresses the balance to happy children – we would love to discuss food and times with you before the day.

 

“We have friends with Newborns, can you offer any assistance ?”
We can care for babies from Newborn, Nannies with Newborn experience will be booked for your Creche. The Wedding can be over stimulating for a baby and a noisy environment for them to sleep in. Believe it or not the creche is a calm environment because we want the Little Guests to return to you relaxed and refreshed. Mums and Dad’s are welcome to come in to the Creche to feed, we’ll make sure they have a drink and some company if required or we can create a quiet corner for them. We are able to care for / feed / change Newborns if parents want to pop out to relax and chat with friends and family.

 

“We have teenagers, we don’t want them to be bored but we want the seats for adults !”
Not a problem, we will discuss in detail the ages and children with you. I will book a secondary school teacher / childcarer with teenage experience. A summer’s day – games outside. Winter Wedding – let’s chat through some gaming options and older kids crafting ideas. Don’t worry we have plenty of ideas and experience – and most importantly we don’t use the word ‘Creche’ in front of a teenager!!

 

“Costs. Who pays for the Creche ?”
It’s totally up to you whether you pay it all or split the costs with the parents. We have lots of Bride’s who arrange and pay for the Creche and let parents pay for the Evening Babysitting. I will email you all the costs, fee payment is due three weeks before the Day. You would be surprised how accommodating parents / carers can be as you are involving them in the plans.
“Why don’t you do soft play / bouncy castles ?”
Cicciona’s create a calm and relaxed environment. We want the children to return to you refreshed. Not hot, sweaty, bouncing off the ceiling with bumped heads. Noise levels and behaving in adult company at a Wedding is exhausting for children and having time to play and relax in a child’s world makes a huge difference to everyone.

 

“Do you do Face Painting ?”
We can do this, we are a creative bunch. However we would need you to sign a disclaimer to say you are responsible if any face paint goes on to the outfits.

 

“We have to return Wedding Clothes undamaged, can you guarantee this ?”
Kids are kids, even the well behaved ones and the amazing ones who can keep a white t shirt clean whilst eating spaghetti bolognaise. But they are few and far between so we provide tabards and wet wipes at no extra charge. The Arts and crafts are mess free as far as they can be. We recommend for total peace of mind and their comfort providing the children with a change of clothes for during the Creche, we can get them changed for the dancing or pop p’j’s on if you are heading home late.
“Can children drink alcohol in the Creche ?”
It happened; kids arrived at a Cicciona’s Creche with bottles of cider so we need to cover this. We are not judging. Allowing children alcohol is a parent / carer decision and should only be done in their care. We have a no alcohol for children policy in the Creche.

 

“My child requires medication, can you administer it ?”
Yes. As per current guidelines there are a number of conditions we need to go through with you before we do this. Please leave enough time before dropping off your child to go through everything.

 

“What about the evening – we want parents / carers to stay and party with us !”
No problem, we offer Babysitting til late. We can babysit in hotel rooms or if your venue doesn’t have accommodation on site we can pack away the creche equipment, put on p.j’s and dim the lights. Parents / carers just need to provide travel cots & ready beds. We can always keep a corner of the room for quiet crafting. If the venue can supply it then a DVD & Hot Chocolate for the older children works well too.

 

 

Let’s talk Food

 

“We want the children at the Wedding but we want the seats for adults at the Wedding Breakfast !”

No problem, we bring along perfect mini tables and chairs for children so they can eat in the Creche, along with tabards and wipes. This works brilliantly with a buffet, cutlery is just too much by this part of the day. We can serve up the food as soon as we think they are hungry and they can always go back for more later. We find the children eat better because they are altogether. *If you are providing a meal for the children I recommend food approx 30 minutes after they have come in to the Creche because they just want to play initially.

 

“We want the children to be at the Wedding Breakfast to eat”
Totally understandable. I recommend the children having main course whilst parents have starters. They can then eat pud while parents have mains (this usually ensures no grumps so Parents / carers can enjoy their main!) Or come into the Creche for Pud. The break between courses is a good time to bring the children in to the Creche. The best value for money time to book the Creche is speeches. Parents can sit back and relax. We can have the Creche all set up and ready to go, if eating at the table becomes too much the children and food can always be brought through to us.

 

“In your experience what works well at meal times ?”
Keep sugar levels up, at Weddings we tend to eat at unusual times. This can be difficult for some adults let alone children. As well as adult canapes have some healthy children’s canapes and drinks available. The energy boost will keep them smiling through photos. Whether you would like the children to eat with you at the Wedding Breakfast or not keep it simple for them, they will be tired and the last thing they need is to be told off for not using cutlery or spilling tomato sauce down their front. Eating a buffet in the creche is ideal in a relaxed and informal setting– the children can choose what they want to eat, be helped by a Nanny if they are a little tired, we put tabards on little ones and servittes on older children and we are armed with wet wipes ! Sitting to little tables and chairs they can chat about their day and eat at their speed. The adults can appreciate the food you have taken the time to choose and relax knowing their little ones are near by.
“Our Baby needs a fresh nappy / bottle / feeding – can you do this when he/she needs it ?”
Yes, babies have a designated Nanny. The Nanny will discuss your baby’s routine, note it down on our identity forms and we also bring large bag tags for your nappy bag and pushchair. We can pop pj’s on too later on so they are all cosy and ready for bed.

 

“We do not want childcare at our Wedding, what can we do to keep the children entertained?”
Think seriously about your expectations of the children. If you want them to behave then you need to put a few things in place to channel their energies. Yes parents are responsible for them but it is a long day, they will most likely have had an early start. With eyes on children expecting good behaviour it puts pressure on parents too. Are there any dangers at your venue – water for example ? Be sure to warn parents. I have designed the Bella Bello Boxes for just this occasion, to channel the children positively ! They are mess free, venue friendly, parents can play snakes and ladders with them and by the end of the day they will probably have found a friend to play snakes and ladder with or have a dance with their glow stick bracelet. The boxes are a fun gift for the children and a gesture to parents that let’s you know you welcome their children. There are plenty of quiet things for them to fiddle with too so they have something to do while parents chat or the speeches are on. Ensure you keep them well fed and watered !

 

“Bella Bello Boxes – why are your party boxes different ? We could do this ourselves !” (Said a delightful groom to me at a Wedding Fayre)

Yes, of course you could make something fab up for the children and this may well be something you look forward to doing but you are busy and the boxes are amazing value for money. I have designed the boxes with children, they have been harshly judged and tweaked. My three boys were each given a box a year ago when we were driving a 2 day trip to Austria and they still have them. They stash all sorts of little treasures in them, as well as still having the stretchy man, pen and mini dice and counters inside for a game of snakes and ladders. Boxes can be wrapped in any tissue paper colour of your choice and names added too at no extra charge, there is also no minimum order.