Sunday, February 6, 2011

The post where I admit I can never be a Gymboree parent

For the past 4 Saturdays Cameron and I have traveled out to the suburbs to take part in a Gymboree class. It was a Groupon deal that my friend Amanda alerted me to - a month of classes for $30 (normally $68). It took us about 25 minutes to get to the location so we never had a chance to go for "free play" and stuck to the Saturday 9 AM classes.

Cameron was a little tentative at first and it wasn't until her last class that she ended up going under the parachute without me. If anyone has been to a Gymboree class, you are familiar with the parachute. I think it's their hat trick for little kids. Anyway Cameron loved the singing and had a weird obsession with the big Jimbo dolls. Mommy was less impressed.

The class was pretty crowded, a result of the Groupon deal, I'm sure. But with more than a dozen kids, it felt really crowded the whole time. And toddlers don't exactly share well so I ended up having to put Cameron in a few time outs. Cameron was one of the oldest there and probably should have been in the next level class but I didn't know any better when I signed up. So the activities didn't really stretch her at all from a learning point of view.

The teacher was super annoying. She had one of those odd voices that was like nails on a chalkboard when she started singing songs. But mostly I think it was the other parents that turned me off of Gymboree (except for my friend Amanda, of course!). Every parent seemed to be from the same socio-economic bracket. Sure, there was diversity in terms of races (quite a few mixed race couples) but it wasn't really diversity, if you know what I mean. It was about as yuppie as you can possibly get. And the parents were obsessed with their kids. Constant hovering, not really interacting with other parents or kids.

What I struggle with is finding a good range of activities for Cameron that can help fill up our weekend. Most places require a 30 day notice before leaving which means a minimum of two months for an activity. That is far too much of a commitment for me. I hate missing classes because it is such a waste of money. But I have also been the parent who goes with Cameron to all the classes (swim lessons last year, Gymboree this year) and I get bored after a few weeks. How have other parents juggled incorporating regular activities for your little ones on the weekends? Do you switch off with your spouse?

Cameron definitely hogged Jimbo. She dragged that damn doll around the room with her. Clowns are kind of creepy, don't you think?

A new favorite activity for Cameron is to play basketball. A toddler basketball hoop is most likely in her future. Good thing her birthday is less than two months away!


Amanda said...

I am totally not a gymboree parent either!

Mommy, Esq. said...

I just found most classes stressful trying to keep track of two kids, not sure how our nanny does it with 3. The best classes we've done are a music class (they use Music Together copyrighted materials) and gymnastics. Once you go for 1-2 sessions (as in finish the whole session and re-sign up) it gets more fun because the kids know the structure of the class. Plus in gymnastics there is no lame songs, just some fun exercise circle time and then you are helping the kids go through the various equipment that are stet up (with coaches help) - a nice physical activity for you and your child. So I'd suggest you look into either of those - maybe gymnastics given your new found love of exercise.

Actuary Mom said...

I haven't found something for us either, but I want to do something. We need some sort of activity in the AM on the weekends. We get bored sitting around the house. We go to the zoo a lot, but lots of days it is too cold or too hot for that.

Mommy, Esq. said...

P.S. Love Cameron's haircut.

Miss Madison's Mommy said...

I'm not a fan a Gymboree either, they are crazy overpriced for some singing and climbing! I don't have Madi in any classes right now, there really just wasn't anything around that I thought would be good for her. They have indoor soccer for her age, but I just don't think she's ready for that, she only wants to pick up the ball and throw it :) I am signing her up for tumbling classes closer to the summer, last summer we did swim lessons, but she's pretty much learned all she can for now, ha. dance class was my favorite when I was young, but I don't think they are old enough for that just yet. Soon!

Drew said...

Yup. You described Gymboree. I agree that the clown thing is freaky. There are some of the "Gymboree Mom Types" at mine, but also some good moms there too. So, I have had a better time of late getting to know some of the good moms. Joel Andrew loves bubble time and just climbing on all the things. We go twice a week (my days off from work, Monday and Friday) in the mornings, one class and one "open gym." It is just good to get him out with all the snowstorms.

I like Mommy, Esq's suggestion of Gymnastics. Joel Andrew loved that, we need to find that again. I HATED Music Together, but that could just be me. We did it during my first tri-mester when all I wanted to do was sleep and puke, and we took the class in Exeter. So, imagine a hippie thing, even more hippi-ified. I hated it. Swim classes were not a hit for Joel Andrew either, but I think we need to try again. There are a lot of drop in gyms near us but I also share your struggle.

WorkingMom said...

No Gymboree with any of my kids - we're a 2nd-generation Y family. If they have one in your area, take a peak; they tend to have a better range of offerings (at least ours does) for a lot less. You'll still meet some "Gymboree" parents (hate to tell you - they're everywhere and get worse as the kid gets older!) but usually it's a more diverse group.

Anonymous said...

In your article you mentioned that your daughtern loved Gymboree's singing & Jimbo doll. If she enjoys it, then that's what matters, right?

As fellow mother's we need to stick together & support each other instead of criticizing other's parenting methods & choices:-)