An enterprising Plymouth mum is launching her new venture after lots of ‘ups and downs’ and being forced to postpone its launch due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Former nursery worker Iulia Fratica is finally taking the plunge with her new business which was due to start in April.
The mum has over 10 years of experience in nursery work, and says she’s ‘excited’ and ‘overwhelmed’ to finally be able to launch her new baby classes Tots Play Plymouth.
The aim of the classes is to help parents find support, feel confident and comfortable while playing and learning and ‘strengthen the bond’ between adults and their babies.
Iuila moved to the UK in 2016 from her home country Romania, and married her husband Alin. The couple had a little girl called Adda, and the mum says the UK is ‘now very much home’ for her.
She said: “As a new mum, the thought of going back to full-time work, missing my baby’s milestones drove me crazy. I wanted to see her growing and spend quality time with my little family, so I knew that after my maternity leave I needed to make a change.
“I wanted to have the flexibility to choose my own working hours but still remain in an environment with children and be able to use my knowledge and skills.
“So, I spent loads of time looking at different programmes here in the UK. Hours and hours on websites. I found lots of programmes that did a little of what I was looking for, but nothing sounded exactly like the right fit. Until I found Tots Play. Then in a matter of minutes, I knew this was the community I wanted to join and represent.
“It is designed to introduce you to activities you can enjoy in class and at home. I am so proud to bring this amazing program to Plymouth.”
The inspiring mum explains how even though lockdown set her back from beginning her classes, she still managed to prepare by doing online videos and blog updates.
She said: “I kept doing videos about my classes, little songs parents can do with their babies, I have a blog so I was also sharing information about myself and getting my name out there and make people not forget me until I’m able to see them.
“I’m excited, as well as overwhelmed. At the moment my living room is full of boxes and things I need to sort. I’m not sure I’m going to make it in one week to be ready with everything! You feel like you need 25 hours in a day instead of 24.”
The baby expert explains why she loves her job and how different the UK is to her home country Romania.
She said: “Seeing those little faces every week in classes, and being there to see how they grow and develop, seeing mummies making new friends and getting more confident in their relation with their babies.
“I think I can go on forever – this would really make me feel blessed and giving me the joy of running baby classes.
“I’m so excited to be able to give other mums,or dad, nans, carers, and children the opportunity to spend special time playing, laughing, learning and bonding together.
“Each class includes a variety of activities to provide a whole range of developmental benefits for little ones, as well as offering plenty of ideas for parents to continue play time at home too.”
She added: “The funny thing about this is in Romania baby groups are only now starting to develop. When I was teaching there they were something really posh, they were rare and expensive.
“On the other hand, I came here and they [baby classes] were everywhere which kind of got my interest, because it was something different.
“So here in UK I’ve only been to two baby classes with my little one, and only one of them on a permanent basis.
“Not always had the, you know all those things, first time mum, no family around, very much preferred to spend time on my own with her, my husband working all the time.”
Iulia offers her advice to parents and mums who might be thinking about starting a business or venture.
“I’m always guided by the words – where there’s a will, there’s a way,” she said.
“My advice is just do what you love, it doesn’t matter what others say.
“My greatest fear when coming here was my language barrier. I’ve been talking English forever but being here around everyone it can feel a bit awkward, like I’m being looked at strange.
“It’s been a tough time mentally for me but now I’ve realised it’s just about myself it’s not about anyone else. I’m trying to be ready for everything!
“I now realise that the most important thing is to be you, and don’t let anything change you. It’s been a tough time ,mentally, physically and also financially, with lots of ups and downs, but we all learnt to get through this and now more than ever it’s so important to me that my classes will offer a safe environment for new mums, that special time they need around other grown ups who can relate to their feelings and share their concerns, ideas and feeling.”