Here at Bumble and Bee Kids Boutique, we want our blog to be a welcoming space for all you wonderful parents. We’re eager to do our bit to keep you informed, introduce you to things that can make life a little easier, and celebrate the products, services and people that can make life a little brighter for our little ones.
This week, we met with Sharon McKeown, also known as Sensory Sharon! Sharon is the owner of Simply Sensory, and is an expert in all things sensory play and development. Her classes are simply sensational, and the benefits are much too great to list in one blog! Instead, we thought we’d go right to the source, and ask Sharon to share with us a bit about her journey, her classes and her hopes for the future. This interview was a delight for all of us here at Bumble and Bee, and we really hope you enjoy!
- Tell us a bit about yourself Sharon!
I’m Sharon, I have four brothers, three sisters, and six children! There’s only a year between each of my first five children, and then I had a six year break and the last one came along! I absolutely loved having them close together, and all of that experience definitely helps me in my work now. So, yes, I come from a very big family. I’m also turning 40 this year, which I see as a big milestone. Especially for me personally, as most of my other milestones were delivering babies! Before starting the business, I worked as a family and childcare social worker for 14 years. I absolutely loved my job. I suppose, quite naively, I had a hope that I could change lives for children, and create a better world. Which I definitely believe you do as a social worker!
- What did you want to be when you were little?
You’ll never believe me, but I actually wanted to be a nun! Don’t ask me why, but that’s what I always used to say. Apart from that, I just always wanted to be a mummy. I knew from a young age that I wanted to have children, and I’m so grateful to have been blessed with six.
- What inspired you to start your business?
I had worked as a social worker for so long, and then had begun to have my own children. I remember one day, my five children were at creche, and my husband was working late into the evening. I was finished work, and was about to leave to pick up the five children, when my manager said to me, “I need you to do a visit.” And I said, “I can’t, I have to pick up my children.” And my manager said, “I’m sorry Sharon, but we need you to do it.” And of course, I have such a great family around me, but at this time, they had their own children, and asking someone to pick up five children is a much bigger task than just one or two. I ended up having to go home and lift them, but came back to do the visit. And I just remember driving home and thinking, “What am I doing here?”
That was a few years before I actually finished with social work. But as time went on, it became more and more clear that it was the right decision. My creche bills were through the roof, and my husband kept saying, “It’s not worth it!”. But I loved my job, I loved working and I loved helping kids.
A couple of years after this, we found out my sister had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. And that truly changed everything for me. I remember thinking, “Life’s too short to not have enough quality time with my children.” I went in to work the next day, and left on a career break. I knew I definitely still wanted to work with children, and so I decided to use all my experience and knowledge of sensory play and child development and developed Simply Sensory. And I haven't looked back since!
- Tell us a bit about the classes you offer?
Simply Sensory offers sensory classes for both babies and toddlers. At the moment we have classes in Cookstown, Omagh and Moortown. For any parents that don’t know what this means, Sensory classes are a way for you and your baby to come together, meet new people and strengthen all of your baby’s senses. At that young age, children need to stimulate all of their senses for them to develop. The classes can help develop their mobility, their eyesight, their brain and their communication. To name a few! The classes are designed to give you and your child a kind of magical experience. We use things like bubbles, lights, music and movement to stimulate your child’s senses in a way that’s fun and enjoyable for both you and them. It really is amazing to be a part of!
- What would you say to parents who are worried about attending a class?
Every week, I receive messages from parents who are feeling worried about bringing their child along. Parents often feel worried if their child is a bit unsettled, and they might cry. Or some parents are worried because their child might have a disability and not be able to do everything that the others can. Other parents feel worried because they have twins, and they’re unsure if they can cope. What I say to every parent is that these classes are a safe space for both them and their babies. If your baby cries, don’t worry about it! Just do what you have to do, whether you have to feed them, change them or soothe them in any way. That is no problem at all. And if your child is unable to do everything at the class, never worry about that either. I will always adjust things to suit you, and make things as stress-free and accessible as possible. It can be daunting bringing your child somewhere new, but this is a class made for babies and toddlers, and we understand that it’s not always smooth sailing.
- Do you have any top tips for parents who maybe can’t attend a class?
The first thing I would say is don’t feel guilty about it! Parents give themselves a hard time when they’re not able to bring their children to every class or every event. Whether it’s work commitments, or you have more than one child and attendance is difficult, don’t worry about it or beat yourself up. The best advice I could give is reading your child a story every day. Story books are an amazing way to stimulate your baby’s brain function, eyesight, communication skills and strengthen the bond between parent and baby.
- Who is your biggest inspiration?
I would definitely have to say my mummy. She raised eight of us, and at times things would have been extremely difficult for her, but she did such a brilliant job. Myself and my sisters have all said that she’s our biggest inspiration, and we aspire to be like her.
- What are your hopes for the future?
I think my biggest hope for the future is to keep on spreading the word about Simply Sensory classes, and try and communicate the benefit of this work to as many parents as possible. I also hope to continue to achieve a good work/life balance. Getting more time with my children was always a big dream of mine, and I’m grateful to have that now.
We had such a wonderful time chatting with Sharon from Simply Sensory! Sharon is completely down-to-earth and puts everyone at ease from the moment you speak to her! She is a complete inspiration, a working mummy with 6 beautiful children and always striving to do more - what a wonderful lady! We know that Simply Sensory has a bright future ahead, and we can’t wait to hear about the magic that your children will experience during her classes.
To find out how to book in for a class with Sharon, visit this link below!