excercise, general, lifestyle, parenting

Meet Julie of Puddle Ducks North East


Tell me briefly a bit about yourself and Puddleducks?

I live in Whitley Bay and I am the Head of Teaching & Technical at Puddle Ducks North East. I have two children (age 7 and 3) who are also Puddle Ducks veterans!

Puddle Ducks runs baby and pre-school swimming classes for little ones from birth to four years old. We also offer swimming lessons for primary school aged children age four to ten years old and aquanatal classes for Mums to be.


Where is Puddleducks based?

We have seventeen different pools throughout the North East of England.

What  was it which made you choose swimming instructing as a career?

I have always been a keen swimmer and when I had my first baby in 2010 I wanted a job with the flexibility to fit around her. I took her to a Puddle Ducks class and loved it so much I decided to re-train and start a whole new career. I left the corporate life soon after and have never looked back.

How do you market Puddleducks?

Mainly through social media and word of mouth. We also network with local parenting groups such as the NCT and the birth and baby network.

What if anything would you say is unique about Puddleducks?

So many things! The ‘Puddle Ducks difference’ as we call it: we have our unique building block programme from birth to independent swimmer and through to technical skill, developed by our very own swimming experts who have dedicated their lives to teaching swimming and ensure that Puddle Ducks remains at the forefront of baby and child swimming.


We teach children to love swimming, respect the water and swim beautifully. Our teachers are trained to the highest standards using programmes that have been specially developed and tested over a period of fifteen years.


We focus on water confidence, not ‘wow’ factors. With bespoke music composed especially for our classes and free catch up lessons so that your little one never misses out, we are more than just a swimming lesson.

How long has Puddleducks been about?

We launched on 1st November 2010

Could you describe a typical day at Puddleducks?

There isn’t one! Every day is different but here’s what I did today (Friday). I dropped my children off at school then headed to the Puddle Ducks office to catch up with Carolyn, our franchisee. We planned some training sessions for our teaching team to develop their skills and to make sure their knowledge is up to date. Then I updated our website and social media accounts before heading to Woodlawn school pool to teach my classes. I taught six classes this afternoon with a mixture of little ones from birth to four year’s old. After packing up the equipment at the pool and saying goodbye to all my customers I headed home to update all my little swimmer’s records. I ticked off everything they had achieved so that their Mums and Dads could order their badges and certificates for them. Finally, I checked and responded to all my e-mails before finishing in time for tea!

What do you enjoy most about the job you do?

The fact that it doesn’t feel like work. I have taught hundreds of little swimmers over the years and I love watching them grow and progress from nervous toddlers into graceful, club level swimmers. I am very lucky to love what I do – not a lot of people can say that!


What do you find the most challenging thing about your job?

Probably the same thing as any working Mum – trying to fit everything in and achieve a work life balance. Life is always hectic but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How would you describe Puddleducks in 3 words?

Passionate, child-led and unique


Where would you like to be in 5 years?
Watching my first swimmers compete for team GB 😉

For more information about Puddle ducks and to find classes in your area, check out their website or Facebook page



birth, general, health, humour, lifestyle, pregnancy

The truth about labour

Between Hollywood and old wives’ tales, there’s a lot of misleading information about childbirth out there. But until you’ve been through it, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.

I’ve had three children, all natural deliveries. Two induced, one spontaneous labour, each experience different. So thought I’d clear up a few myths and expectations and tell it like it is based on my experiences

It’s nothing like One Born Every Minute

First off, I can’t speak for other mums and dads, but there was no playful chatty excited banter in the delivery room with my other half. None.

Mainly because soon after my  first dose of induction gel with my second child, my hubby was given a bed, snuggled down and went to sleep. Which worked out fine anyway, as I wasn’t able to think of anything other to say other than repeat ‘I am SHITTING myself’.

I then labored very quietly an hour later, for around three hours, before waking him. Then once again repeatedly told him I was shitting myself.

How do I know I’m in labour

If it’s your first time you may be expecting your waters breaking will be your first sign of labour. This was the case with my first two children, but with my third, contractions started soon after my second sweep.

They actually started as we went to do our weekly shop in Morrisons. Intensified throughthe night, so off to hospital we went at 5am, via McDonalds drive through, for carbs.

I was checked over. Confirmed  I was in active labour, but sent home. They got stronger as soon as my waters broke whilst bouncing on my yoga ball watching ‘Thismoring’. So straight back to hospital we went. Me sat in the passenger seat on a pampers changing mat to protect the seats. Seriously.

I was convinced I wasn’t going to make it from the car park to the delivery room. Rushed through the hospital recption area pulling my overnight hospital bag replying ‘NOW’ as someone asked when I was due, and stood in the lift insisting ‘it’s coming out’ whilst thinking ‘phew, we’ve made it just in time’ and ‘go me’ for doing it all drug free.

I went another 5 hours

Your birth plan goes right out the window

Nobody can predict how a birth will go. With my first I stated I’d rather not have any students present, yet I had 3 or 4 stood at the end of the bed, watching intensely and taking notes as I was stitched up after labour.

I hoped for a water birth with my third. I had a vision of this completely calm, earth mother, serene drug free experience. Just me, the midwife, and the hubby

My daughter opened her bowls, ruling out a water birth. I panicked every single time the midwife left the room and continuously sent my hubby out to look for her, snapped up her offer of ‘pethidine’ without hesitation, and again welcomed a few male student doctors in the room. Pretty sure I kept asking them random questions, although I have no idea what – I was off my face.

They congratulated me and left as soon as I’d given birth, turning down the opportunity to watch the needlework.

The birth plan goes right out the window, along with your dignity

The truth about the poo

Yes, you might have one, no you will not realise this, yes your partner will find great joy and hilarity in telling you, and no you will not care

The tea and toast

I think I was more focused on the tea and toast I knew I’d be getting after labour than the hugs with my baby whilst laboring with my third. I knew the drill at this point, baby, placenta, repair, toast.

I swear my hubby even spurned me on with ‘Think of the tea and toast, Lou’ as I pushed through the final contractions with my third

Post birth tea and toast is the best tea and toast you will ever have in your life

Your hospital bag

Pack underwear, plenty of it or like me you’ll be texting your mate asking her to pop to Peacocks on their way to hospital to visit, to pick up a few packs of big black size 18s

This is also the one occasion it’s perfectly acceptable to rock a nighty and pair of fluffy socks. But trust me, it’s gonna get messy so make sure they’re cheap ones.

And just when you think you’re done

You have to endure the not so rewarding third stage of labour, which nobody tells you about. The delivery of the placenta. I think it just pretty much slipped out with my first two, but with my third I was convinced it was twins and powered through it with gas and air. There was a moment of panic as I heard the words’surgery’, but out it popped just in time

The hospital exit

Boy is it emotional. Not only are you  met with ‘congratulations’ off hospital staff as you pass them, you also feel a slight pang of ‘we’re on our own now’ anxiety

I’ll always remember filling up with tears as I heard my other half say ‘welcome to the world, little one’ as we exited through the doors with Emily.

It’s a special moment, take it all in


You’ll probably vow ‘never again’ 

Whilst in the final stages of labour, then whisper ‘I’d do it again in a heartbeat’ the second you hold your long awaited perfect tiny little bundle.


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