This post was created in partnership with Gymboree.
This season, our Editorial Director, Caitlin, challenged herself to incorporate more play into her daughter’s life, and in the process found out that she could have a little fun of her own! Caitlin’s thoughts on creative childhood engagement are below.
One of the most challenging things about becoming a mother is that everything is new. With your first child, you experience all aspects of motherhood and raising a baby for the very first time, and it can be so hard! Everything is a first in the unchartered territory of child rearing and advice (both solicited and not) is a constant.
So, a few months ago, I decided it was time I look into ways to meet other mothers and involve Piper in activities where she’d be stimulated and encouraged to interact with other babies her age. Being that I’m so new to this whole motherhood thing, I didn’t know where to start. Then a friend mentioned she was taking her daughter to Gymboree. I didn’t even realize that Gymboree offered music and play classes (or that a center had just opened up near us). Truth be told, I thought Gymboree only sold cute baby clothes. I was so surprised to find out that Gymboree is actually celebrating its 40th anniversary this year! So, when Taylor mentioned she has been to her local Gymboree class with Elodie, I knew it was officially time to experience this program for myself and for Piper.
As with all new things, I was a little nervous to sign Piper up. I didn’t know how she’d do (would she be scared, have a tantrum, want to play?), or how I’d do with the other moms because I still feel like a “newbie” and don’t yet have a ton of other mom friends to confide in. All of my fears subsided though when I walked into my local Play & Music center (find yours here) and was greeted by the friendly staff and smiling mamas with their kids!
Piper was a little nervous at first, but quickly warmed up to the other kids and the teacher. She loved being ‘on the loose’ and able to explore, and I loved that she was in a safe environment to do so. The class also gave me an opportunity to chat with other moms and let Piper interact and socialize with kids her age. We loved all the songs, bubbles and having the chance to climb through tunnels!
We had such a great experience and I know we’ll be back for more classes in no time. Gymboree has been championing parents for 40 years, and now I realize why it’s so great for parents and their little ones! In case you’re curious to know more about Gymboree Play & Music, I’m sharing five reasons to check it out in person below. I encourage you to sign up for a free class here and check out what Gymboree has to offer! Also, in celebration of its 40th anniversary, Gymboree created 40 play cards that are sure to add some fun into your child’s days! Be sure to download them here.
1. It’s a great way to escape the weather.
It can be hard to find activities to do in extreme heat and humidity, when it rains or during the colder months of the year. We love that Gymboree gives our kids an opportunity to play and learn regardless of the temperature.
2. You’ll meet new moms.
Sure, everyone’s main focus is on the kids, but these classes are about the parents, too! It’s a great way to meet other peers with children of a similar age, and to connect with your local community. As a new mom, it can often feel a little intimidating—especially with daily advice being hurled my way whether I ask for it or not! The Gymboree program, though, is designed to be a judgement-free space for moms to follow their own parenting journey. The freedom and encouragement is so empowering!
She loved being ‘on the loose’ and able to explore, and I loved that she was in a safe environment to do so.
3. Safety and stimulation both come first.
Outdoor playgrounds are fun, but they can also be worrisome. Gymboree offers a safe learning environment for your kids to explore, discover and learn. Piper loves to crawl around and it was comforting to let her do it in this space! The other cool thing about the physical environment of the center itself is that no surface or texture is overlooked. Everything from the floor to each individual toy is considered for its ability to inspire and teach your child something creative and exciting.
4. Exciting educational programs.
We love that Gymboree switches its programing so your child is always learning new things in fun ways with the classes and won’t get bored with repetition. The classes are structured, but also allow for your child to explore on their own and socialize with other kids.
5. Distraction-free fun.
I’m pretty sure that other working mothers will agree that it’s tough to find time to enjoy pure, distraction-free fun with our children. That to-do list is constantly calling and work priorities are ever-looming. So setting aside specific time slots to rid ourselves of those distractions in order to focus on our kids is imperative. I found that the Gymboree Play & Music program allowed Piper and I to stop and really enjoy our time together without worrying about what’s next.
Although this class and experience was really geared toward my daughter and offering her the chance to break out of her shell, it turned out to be just as fun an experience for me as a new mom. I walked away feeling inspired and encouraged, and I can’t wait to get back to another class so that we can experience that fun together again!