Do you live in Sevenoaks? Otford? Riverhead? Dunton Green? Kemsing? Hildenborough? Tonbridge? Sundridge? Westerham? Halstead? If you are a mum, dad, grandparent, nanny or childminder, and you want to have a fun-filled time with your baby or toddler, then we’d love to see you at our classes.

We run award-winning and fun-filled classes for babies and children 0-5 years, and are based in Dunton Green in Sevenoaks, Kent

Here at Gymboree Play & Music Sevenoaks we have a full timetable of Classes and Open Play, with varied options so that you and your little one can make us part of your busy schedule.

We offer a FREE TRIAL for our classes. As the global leaders on developmentally appropriate physical and cognitive fun, we help to grow your little one’s body and mind!

We also offer a variety of bespoke party options for birthdays, get togethers and even baby showers.

The Importance of Play

Government guidelines highlight the importance of physical activity and play in young children’s early development. A recent report outlined the vital role of PLAY and MOVEMENT in early childhood, putting emphasis on encouraging children, particularly those that aren’t walking, to crawl, roll and play – physical activity is now  encouraged from birth, ‘particularly through floor-based play…in safe environments’. Meanwhile, children that are up on their feet are now recommended to have at least 3 hours of activity, spread throughout a day with periods of rest in-between.

As stated in the report, these kind of movements are ‘…provide valuable opportunities to build social and emotional bonds with parents, siblings and other children.’

Gymboree Play & Music have been encouraging Play, Movement and Fun in all of their classes for 40 years – so why not book in your FREE Trial class today!

Gymboree Play & Music Sevenoaks

18 London Road,



TN13 2UE


Registered office: 104 Dynes Road, Kemsing, Sevenoaks, Kent. TN15 6RF

Sevenoaks Timetable Summer 2021

Please find our current Covid-19 procedures (as of July 2021) below:

Covid-19 procedures July 2021

MAC/iPhone/iPad users may have trouble viewing this timetable. Please email us for a copy to be sent to you.

Baby Lab (Sensory Play for 0-8 months pre-mobile)
Play & Learn for 6 months to 5 years
Family Play & Learn (mixed ages, siblings welcome)

Trial classes must be pre-booked.

Join on the day of your free trial and pay £0 joining fee (£30 saving).

IAIM Baby Massage courses are also offered. Please contact us for course dates and availability (please note, trial classes are not available in Baby Massage)


Sign up to our Baby Lab classes with your newborn (pre-mobile up to 8 months old), and receive 20% off of your monthly fees!

Discount is reduced to 10% when moving to Crawlers (6-10 months); full price by Walkers (10-16  months)


Adults must wear socks to class for hygiene reasons and children should have bare feet for better grip on the equipment.

OPEN GYM: Open Gym is offered free to all members (currently enrolled in classes) and non-members at £5 per child per session. Sessions must be pre-booked and pre-paid. Email us for more information on how to pay.

If you are going to miss a class, you must notify us within 1 hour of your class start time in order to be able to make the session up. Notified missed classes can be made up in any available class, and you have 3 months within an active membership in which to use these up.  Make up classes MUST be booked ahead of schedule.

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Let us bring the magic of Gymboree Play & Music to your child’s party!

NEW! Let us host your Baby Shower!

On-the-Go Party option:

45 minutes of party time & fun

An enthusiastic Gymboree Play & Music teacher

A selection of Gymboree Play & Music activities

Up to 20 children (further children are allowed at extra cost)

Parachute time and Bubble time

£150 per party

50% non-refundable deposit at time of booking


On-Site Party Free-Play option:

1.5 hours of free play party time

You are welcome to bring cake and finger food*

Up to 14 children aged under 5 years, each accompanied by at least one adult

£180 for members £200 for non-members

50% non-refundable deposit at time of booking


On-Site Party Teacher-Led option:

2 hours of party time & fun including:

1 hour structured themed activities

30 minutes for cake and finger food (provided by you)*

30 minutes free-play time

Enthusiastic Gymboree Play & Music teachers

A selection of Gymboree Play & Music activities on our equipment

Up to 14 children aged under 5 years, each accompanied by at least one adult

Parachute time and Bubble time

£200 for members £220 for non-members

50% non-refundable deposit at time of booking

Deluxe Party option:

Let our party advisor organise everything from booking your Gymboree Play & Music party, to invites, cake or even a photographer!

Price on application

*Please note due to minimum space at the site, finger food must be strictly limited. Please speak to a member of staff for details

We can also now provide party bags for your guests. Ask a member of staff for more details and to get a quote.

Here's what our party goers think of our parties:

Thank you so much for hosting a wonderful birthday party for my daughter Imogen and her friend Elizabeth. The set-up was perfect for a bunch of rowdy two-year-olds and the kids loved all the activities, especially the bubbles and parachute. I was worried that having that many young children all together in one space would be chaos, but it worked really well and there was plenty of different things for them to climb on and play with. The time whizzed by too quickly and Imogen didn't want to go home! (Georgina, mum of Imogen February 2018)

Thank you so much for the boys’ Gymboree birthday party. They and all their friends had a wonderful time. Caroline was excellent; arrived early; had clearly planned and prepared the requested theme and kept them engaged for the whole party, which is a challenge in itself! I can’t thank you enough, they were talking about it for days after. (Nichola, mum of Ted & Tom February 2018)

I just wanted to email to say a HUGE thank you to all of the staff at Gymboree Play & Music for helping to organise my son Noah's second birthday party on Saturday 14th January. It was absolutely brilliant and he really had a fantastic time. Everyone that I have spoken to since has commented on how excellent it was. I know my sister in law has signed up for classes with her 3 month old and I aim to book a class for Noah too. (Jennifer, mum of Noah, January 2017)

Just wanted to say a big thank you to Avril and Caroline for making Alice's first birthday amazing. The whole session was perfectly planned and included some of Alice's favourite activities. There was so much energy put in to everything we did and really made Alice and her friends feel very special. I have received so many thank you texts and emails from our friends and family saying what a great party it was. When it came to the lunch break they both took control and handed out all the children's food and made sure the adults had drinks too. Avril even helped cutting the cake for my goody bags. I didn't have to worry about anything so I got to join in with the activities and enjoy the party as the ladies took care of everything for us. Over all the party was a great success and just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone. I'm sure we will be having a Gymboree Play & Music party for the 2nd birthday. (Juliet, mum of Alice, December 2016)

We wanted to thank you for hosting Holly's 2nd birthday party. You did a fantastic job, everyone enjoyed it so much, especially the children and there were so many compliments about how amazing you were. So from all of us, a huge thank you! (Susie, mum of Holly, April 2016)

Thank you so much for giving Max such a brilliant 2nd birthday party. We really enjoyed it, and thank you for making it so special. Max and all his friends had a great time. (Hollie, mum of Max, March 2016)

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for such a special first birthday for Kadence. She had the best time and so did all her little friends. Colette thank you for all your effort into making it such a fun day and making it so easy for me. For once I actually got to enjoy one of my baby's birthday parties instead of running around sorting everything out. Thank you so much again. (Sharon, mum of Kadence, February 2016)

Thank you so much for hosting my daughters' Gymboree Play & Music party for her second birthday. Everybody had a great time. It was wonderful to be able to arrive on the day with everything ready to go, without any stress. The games were great and the children were really engaged for the whole party. Special thanks to Colette for your energy and enthusiasm. You accommodated us at very late notice too, which I am very thankful for. I would happily recommend a Gymboree party to anyone with preschool kids. (Mary, mum of Jessica, January 2016)

Gymboree Play & Music is my daughter's favourite activity after school, so we didn't hesitate to organise her birthday party there. The price was very reasonable and I hadn't to worry about anything other than bringing the food as the party bags were also offered by them. The two hours ran so quickly as the activities are organised in a very dynamic manner. The place is so cozy that enables everyone to participate in such a fun way. The party girls were so helpful and they quickly designed the playing activities according to the average age of the attendants. Gymboree Play & Music is such a lovely place, and all our guests agreed!! Nia was the happiest little girl and after 3 months she is still remembering her big day. (Erika, mum of Nia, January 2016)

Just wanted to say a massive thank you for Austin's 2nd birthday party, it was fantastic! I am thrilled that I decided to have the party on site (very little organisation required from mummy!) Everyone loved the fun vehicle themed activities and Austin's face was a picture when he got to ride on the dumper truck! Having Caroline and Colette there was like having two extra friends at the party! (Lisa, mum of Austin, September 2015)

Hi Ladies, just a quick note to say a belated thank you for doing such a great job at Hanna's party on Sunday 21st. We all really enjoyed the Teddy Bear's picnic - Hanna is already asking when 'her ladies' can come back! Michelle, mum of Hanna (June 2015)

Hi ladies just wanted to send you a massive thank you for our party on Saturday, was amazing and all the tots really loved it! It was really special for us mums (& dad's!) to see them all playing, climbing, dancing together and having so much fun! Julie, mum of Evie & Freya (June 2015)

HUGE thank you to Caroline and Gymboree Play & Music for Tommy's 1st birthday party. It was all amazing and wouldn't have been half the fun without you. All the children really enjoyed themselves and some very happy parents as all the children went to bed early! One word for Caroline - Legend! Highly recommend a Gymboree Play & Music party. Emma, mum of Tommy (January 2015)

We would just like to thank you both for Caleb's wonderful 3rd birthday party. The vehicle theme, which you cleverly introduced for him, was a big hit and the set up was great and the perfect size for a lovely party. Caleb had a blast. The range of activities was brilliant with bubbles, songs, dancing, the parachute and all the climbing apparatus too and your enthusiasm and energy topped it all off. I have received so many lovely comments and thank yous from all who attended. Everyone had a fabulous time!
Thank you both so much for going out of your way to ensure it all ran smoothly and for all your help with setting up and clearing away. It made the whole thing stress-free and enjoyable! Jemma, mum of Caleb (January 2015)

A huge thank you to Gymboree Play & Music for entertaining 62 (probably more) children and 50 adults at the Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge Twins and Triplets Club Christmas Party. Wow. Organised chaos has never been a more appropriate term! You kept them all happy and everyone had a great time. It was fabulous. Such positive comments from parents. Thank you. Joanna, TWTTTC (December 2014)

We booked Gymboree Play & Music to entertain at our son's second birthday party and we would highly recommend it.   The children were entertained for an hour with songs and activities that they could participate in and they all really enjoyed themselves. Sarah, mum of Joshua (April 2014)

Anne had a wonderful time! The children all played happily and really enjoyed the story, Caroline and Sinéad did a great job, and I wish I could have videoed Anne triumphantly flinging her arms out at the end saying Best Birthday Ever! Fiona, mum of Anne (October 2013)

I just wanted to drop you a note to say a very big thank you for Lexie and Amber-Lily's party.  It was a huge success.  The girls loved it and we had lots of feedback to say the guests had had a great time.  Best of all it felt stress-free - which quite frankly was a big factor in our decision to choose you and which did not disappoint!  The environment worked really well, the games were fun and all your helpful touches made a real difference.  I am certain we made the right choice and would be happy to recommend you.  Alison, mum of Lexie (September 2013)

Just wanted to say a big thank you for providing the fabulous entertainment for my son Elliot's 1st birthday party. You did a sterling job keeping 21 babies engaged. They all had a fabulous fun time. I was also very impressed that Colette managed to remember all the children's name's as well. Would recommend Gymboree Play & Music for parties and will definitely use you again in the future. Tania, mum of Elliot (August 2013)

Thanks to Gymboree Play & Music for throwing a lovely first birthday party. Having the party run by such experts took loads of the pressure off, and we all really enjoyed it. Serine, mum of Gemma, (June 2013)

Thank you so much to the Gymboree Play & Music Sevenoaks team for hosting our son, Kasten's, second birthday. He and his friends had a wonderful time and were thoroughly entertained! Thanks again! Francisca, mum of Kasten (January 2013)

Thank you so much for organising a brilliant 2nd birthday party for Tommy and Martin in early January. They both loved it as did their friends. Jessica and Colette were their usual enthusiastic selves and worked tirelessly to make the event a success. What impressed me most is how effortlessly they managed to get all the children to join in and have a great time - both those who had previously been to Gymboree Play & Music and those who had not. The birthday kids were made to feel very special, and their favourite activities and party theme were reflected in the setup. Putting the preparation of the event in the capable hands of the Gymboree Play & Music team made organising the party a breeze. We had lots of compliments from other parents and would certainly consider having another Gymboree Play & Music party in the future. Thank you again. Barbara, mum of Thomas & Martin (January 2013)

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Jessica for yesterday, she did a fantastic job, the kids had a great time. Steph, mum of Freddie (September 2012)

Thanks so much for giving the kids such an amazing time at the party on Saturday! All our guests were raving about how good you were, so you might have some referrals soon when other birthdays come around! Carrie, mum of Elsie (September 2012)


Please find our current Covid-19 procedures (as of July 2021) below:

Covid-19 procedures July 2021



Families (mixed ages) Tuesday 3:45pm from 27th July.


Does your Gymboree Play & Music Sevenoaks member have a sibling, aged 5 and under? Are you off for the Summer and looking for something to do with your little one?! Contact us about our 6 week summer special!


Our next on-site Baby Massage course will start on 22nd July 2021 (FULL).

The 5-week course is designed to equip parents and carers with the skills to help calm, soothe and bond with baby through positive, nurturing touch and will be led by a fully qualified IAIM instructor.

If you sign up to Baby Lab membership after your course, you will get the £30 of your massage course reimbursed as membership credit!

We also offer the course off-site in your home or choice of venue for groups (3 or more) and individuals.

Contact us for more information on course dates and to book.


Street parking is available around Gymboree Play & Music, but this is very limited so we strongly recommend you park in Tesco and then make the short walk over to us using the zebra crossings. Please do not park in the Majestic/Topps Tiles car park as this is reserved for their customers only.




Older siblings are welcome to come to their younger brother or sister’s class as….

An Observer: Children may sit in the reception area watching, or with games/activities to keep them occupied

A Helper: If you feel your child will not tolerate sitting throughout the class, they may be allowed in as a helper. The main rule is no climbing; keep feet on the ground, and this is solely at your teacher’s discretion. Please do not feel offended if we ask your child to sit at the side of the class, our priority is with the children actually enrolled so as not to hinder their Gymboree Play & Music experience.

A Participant: If your older child falls under the 5 year maximum age limit, why not bring both children along to a Families class during the holidays? The Families classes are specifically designed for a mixture of ages and encourage siblings to play together. We have various time slots throughout the week you can book into (must be booked ahead of schedule) and you can book them as:


A make-up class

If your enrolled child has classes to make-up, your older child is welcome to use these at a Families class. Please note that you must book ahead of schedule, and this is limited to 3 times in a 3-month period.


A Fun Pass class

We are extending our Fun Pass scheme to include siblings. A Fun Pass is a card of 5 classes which can be used within a 3-month period at a cost of £65. For siblings of enrolled members, we are offering the pass for £40, and extending the expiry to 6 months. If you feel you may like to bring your older child along to classes more than 3 times in a 3 month period, this may be the solution for you.



Younger siblings are welcome to come to their older brother or sister’s class as….

An Observer: Small babies may watch the class from a car seat or buggy positioned off of the play mats, or carried by you in a sling or papoose. You MUST, be able to focus on your older child and have your arms free in order to keep them safe whilst playing. Pre-mobile babies may be allowed to join in with parachute time (at your teacher’s discretion), but it is your responsibility to keep your child safe from older children moving around the parachute.

A Participant: Once your younger child is mobile, we cannot allow them to join in with parachute time for safety reasons, so perhaps you might like to look into enrolling them into their own class or enrol both children in a Families class so they can play together. We offer a 50% discount on 2 siblings enrolled at the same time (not necessarily in the same class), so please speak to us to see if we can find something suitable for you.

The best child-friendly cafes in the local area

Posted on 10 May, 2018 by Sarah Hart

Going out for a coffee or lunch with little ones can either be an enjoyable experience or a logistical nightmare. It definitely helps if you can find a child-friendly cafe or restaurant that is equipped with high chairs, has a healthy and affordable kids menu and is welcoming to families. Hopefully this blog post will help you to pick a suitable place to enjoy with your kids and to suggest some new places to try out – any excuse for a cuppa and some cake!

coffee and cake with children in Tonbridge, Sevenoaks or Tunbridge Wells


The Little Fawn Play Cafe at the Stag

Address: Stag Community Arts Centre, London Road, Sevenoaks TN13 1ZZ


Opening times: Monday to Saturday, open from 10am

A hidden gem in the heart of Sevenoaks, the Little Fawn Cafe is a great find for parents with young children. The large cafe space is very family friendly and has a corner just for kids with books, toys, kids tables and chairs, and comfy sofas for the adults to relax on. Note: the cafe is welcoming to breastfeeding mums. There are plenty of tables and wooden high chairs, and there are baby change facilities on the same floor. The only downside is getting up there. You can either navigate the large open staircase (two flights of stairs) or parents with buggies can use the lift. This is a bit of a faff to get to and it is a small lift, but when you get upstairs there is plenty of space to park your buggy. The cafe serves hot and cold drinks, cakes, sandwiches, salads, jacket potatoes and soup, as well as a kid’s lunchbox option that includes sandwiches, crisps and a drink.


Soft Play Cafe at Sevenoaks Rugby Club

Address: Sevenoaks Rugby Club, Knole Paddock, Plymouth Drive, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3RP


Opening hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays school term-time ONLY, 9am-3.30pm

Based in Sevenoaks Rugby Club, the Soft Play Cafe is a brilliant place to let your kids run around and play, and it has free parking onsite for four hours. Dedicated to parents and active children under five, it has a soft-play area, mats and bouncy chairs for babies, loads of ride ons, as well as dressing up, a play kitchen and a range of toys and books. Everything is contained in one room, meaning you can sit and drink a coffee without worrying that your child has run off. There are comfortable sofas for mums who want to feed babies, as well as large tables and lots of IKEA highchairs. The cafe has hot and cold drinks and snacks, as well as light lunches. For kids, it does a lunch box and a few hot meals. There’s also free squash, water and fresh fruit available. We are big fans of owner Diane’s homemade cakes (orange rocky road is a favourite). There are baby change facilities, as well as free wipes and nappy bags. Entry is £3 per child and is just £2.50 per child if you have a LoveLocal card.


child friendly cafes in Tonbridge, Sevenoaks or Tunbridge Wells


The Clock House Baby Cafe

Address: 8 Barden Road, Tonbridge, TN9 1TX (On the road behind Tonbridge Station)


Opening hours: Soft play area and toys are out Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and on Saturdays 9am-1pm (but do feel free to stay on for lunch).

From the outside, The Clock House looks like a trendy restaurant (which it is in the evenings). However, in the day it is a great space to come and have a coffee or lunch with your kids. On week days and Saturdays, half of the restaurant is given over to families, with a small soft-play area and lots of toys and books to keep your children entertained. The inside space is well kitted out for families with baby changing facilities, plenty of wooden high chairs and more than enough space to park a few pushchairs. And when the weather is nice there is an enclosed courtyard to sit in. From 9am until 12pm there is a lovely brunch menu that caters for children and adults, and after 12pm you can order off the main menu, which has sandwiches, burgers and larger dishes. The lunchtime kids menu is reasonably priced, with generous portion sizes. And if you are feeling naughty, there are a selection of cakes on the counter to choose from.


Cafe Comma

Address: Christ Church, High St, Tonbridge TN9 1SG


Opening hours: Tuesday mornings, term time ONLY, 9.30am-11.30am

Held upstairs at Christ Church, Cafe Comma is a free playgroup that also serves hot and cold drinks and snacks. Entry is free of charge and for a £3 donation you can get a toasted teacake or cookie, a hot drink AND a cold drink and snack for your child. There’s a specific area for babies and lots of different toys and activities for children up to age five. The large hall has space for at least five buggies, baby-change facilities downstairs and plenty of different toys, from dressing up to play kitchens and sticklebricks – there’s also a different craft activity each week. Cafe Comma is up two flights of stairs, but there is a lift right next to the stairs. You don’t have to be a member of the church to attend. Best of all, there’s a group of lovely helpers who will play with your children while you drink your coffee!


65mm Coffee at The Old Fire Station

Address: The Old Fire Station, Castle Street, Tonbridge TN9 1BH


Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 8.30am-4pm

This historic building is mainly used as a restaurant and for events in the evenings, but The Old Fire Station (TOFS) transforms into a coffee shop in the day time. It is a beautiful building that has been sympathetically restored and has lots of character – and also plenty of space for buggies. Coffee connoisseurs will love the artisan drinks served here and the selection of cakes will have even the most health-conscious parent tempted to grab a slice – an added bonus is the gluten-free selection of treats. The staff are really friendly and helpful, and even let the kids try on fireman’s helmets (If you ask nicely!). The tables are large and spacious, so perfect for bigger groups and there are plenty of highchairs to go around.


Tunbridge Wells

The Little Play Cafe

Address: 142 London Road, Southborough, Kent TN4 0PJ


Opening hours: 9am-4.30pm

Recently opened in April 2018, The Little Play Cafe is a coffee shop that serves home-cooked bistro quality food. It also has a free play area for children under five. It will be hosting daily nursery-nurse-led sessions from just 50p, such a baby sensory sessions, and unique events. The cafe serves snacks, breakfast and lunch, and has an extensive children’s menu, as well as coffee, tea and home-made cakes. It also has lots of healthy options, which is a refreshing change to ‘something with chips’. The soft-play is free for toddlers and the cafe even has the motto ‘the cafe you love… as much as your child’. The décor is bright, playful and quirky, and the cafe really is geared towards parents and children. A no brainer if you want to have a relaxed coffee or lunch with your friends and family.


Manna Cafe

Address: Holy Trinity with Christ Church, High Street, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1UT


Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm

Manna cafe is based in Christ Church in the High Street and is run by volunteers. It is child friendly and the staff make you feel very welcome. A massive bonus is that all the cafe’s profits go to charity, so you can justify going out for coffee or lunch with your friends on a regular basis and know that you are doing good. The cafe serves the usual hot drinks and snacks, but also has a Saturday breakfast menu and serves delicious lunches that are fresh, homemade and use fair-trade produce wherever possible. Manna cafe has plenty of space for buggies, provides highchairs, has decent baby-change facilities and lots of toys to keep toddlers entertained. This cafe is popular with the locals in Tunbridge Wells and can get quite busy at times, but that all adds to the friendly, community feel of this space.


Creams Cafe

Address: 31-37 Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2AN


Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 11am-5pm

Newly opened at the beginning of 2018, Creams is a popular franchise with branches around the country. If you haven’t heard the hype, the ice-cream parlour sells mouthwateringly good sundaes, waffles, milkshakes and pretty much anything that will give your children a major sugar rush! The Tunbridge Wells branch is huge with retro decor and has literally every flavour of ice cream you can imagine. Once the kids have enjoyed their sweet treats, you can let them loose in the soft play area. Creams has a very casual atmosphere and is ideal for families with older and younger children alike. It is a great place to head for tea or coffee, or an afternoon treat, but does not serve savoury, lunch items.

Sarah is a Tonbridge based photographer specialising in newborn photography. Her beautiful work and information on booking a photo shoot can be found at

10 Handy Hints for Surviving Second Babies

By Charlotte Edun, hypnobirthing instructor & birth coach, The Good Birth Practice

February 2018

Do a quick Google of ‘second baby’, and it’s apparent pretty quickly that becoming a mother for a second or third time (or beyond!) is a very different bundle of nappies.

In articles, blogs & Facebook posts, becoming a mother again is regularly described in comparison with ‘the first time’ – and with good reason! Remember morning sickness with your first? I ate salt & vinegar crisps for breakfast, and spent most weekends lying on the sofa. Second time around? Not so much. It was more parks & soft play and hiding sweets in my coat pockets. Third trimester tiredness? Cuts no ice second time around, I’m afraid, you’ll be persuading toddlers into clothes and out of the house, I’m afraid. The challenges of pregnancy with a child in tow are plenty. It’s not just the practicalities, either. There are new complexities to consider, beyond the feat that is mothering a newborn. What will this  birth be like? How will a new sibling affect your first born? How you will cope with two dependents?

It’s ok, though, it’s not all dark. There are new joys to look anticipate too. Having successfully nurtured one baby already, you have every right to feel confident & excited about those fragile early days too. Your new baby is an entirely unique individual, and when they arrive,  they will open an entirely new chapter in all your lives.

Here are 10 top tips for managing those first tricky months;

  • Keep your oldest child(ren) active & entertained

One of the hardest things to do when you’re sleep deprived, and just want to wear a groove on the sofa and eat chocolate, is to muster the troops and head off to the park. Yet we all know that when kids are fulfilled they eat better, sleep better and are more able to play alone for a bit, giving you time to rest & recuperate. So sign up for groups & activities. Book play dates. Visit the in-laws. Put together a rainy day box. It’s ok to kick back and relax at home, but always important to have something up your sleeve to keep them occupied & exercised too.

  • If in doubt, go out

There are times when the tension & voices rise, and it all feels overwhelming. Bundle up and get out of the house. Within minutes the dynamic will have changed and you will all be feeling better.

  • Sod the house

Honestly, sod it. There’s only so much a women can cope with, and keeping a neat and tidy house when you’re getting to grips with a new & improved family can be just too much on some days. So, like Elsa, just let it go. It will all still be there in a couple of months when you’ve found your feet and are firing on all, well rested, cylinders.

  • Pareto’s Law applies to Mums too.

It’s the 80/20 rule. If you’re too tired to cook the toddler a healthy nutritious supper, don’t. Beans on toast for a third night in the row won’t hurt them, and neither will eating in front of the tv once in a while, so you can take 5 to feed a baby in peace. It’s ok to drop the standards occasionally in the name of your sanity.

  • Ask for help

This is often such a hard thing to do – after all, being capable, coping, is something many of us take pride in. But friends & family really do want to help. When visitors ask if you need anything, say ‘yes’, and even if you don’t, make something up. A packet of paracetamol. A bottle of milk. Your visitors will be pleased to have been useful and you’ll adopt a useful new skill (yes, I do think asking for help is a skill).

  • Have faith

Mothering, despite the overwhelming proximity of little bodies, can be very lonely. Your mind can become an cruel echo chamber in the smallest dark hours of the morning, while everyone else sleeps and you’re out of your mind with selflessness & exhaustion. But to be a mother is to be strong – and you do already know your strength. Although we are all different, we are all resilient, resourceful & capable. Some days we need to draw heavily on our resources, and on others it feels the most natural, joyful thing in the world. Find your tribe online, who will help you keep your focus, just quietly, daily. There are plenty of great places out there that will help you remember your strengths when you most need it. Check out This Girl Is Enough as a starter for 10.

  • Carve out time for yourself

I met a neighbour & her 6 month old baby today. She has just booked herself a fortnightly massage for the next 6 months, so it’s in the diary, and incontrovertibly happening. It means she has something to look forward to, and her husband knows when it’s his time to lead Mission Control. It doesn’t need to be a massage. A run? Lunch with a friend? Visit to the library? Whatever your bag is, book it because you are the most important asset your family has right now, and you cannot pour from an empty cup.

  • Carve out time for your partner

Ok. There have been times when I have felt so overwhelmed that taking my husband’s needs into account felt like just too much. But, to be your best, you need to be a team, to be able to pull together even with the least amount of sleep, and in the most frenetic chaos. Even if it’s a once a week oven pizza & a glass of wine, make time to talk, look each other in the eye, and cast your mind back through the washing & the sweet smell of baby vomit to what first brought you together.

  • Trust it will all be ok

It really will. Time passes quickly, and you already know how much changes in the first year. As your children grow together, they form their own little bond, a partnership which is just as important as their bond with you. It’s a joy to watch.

  • Finally, please make sure you talk

Sometimes it really is too much. Truly, sometimes the overwhelm is deeper and darker and harder to express. Talk to other women around you. Hear their honest assessment of how you’re doing. They’ll tell you if you’re doing a fine job. And they’ll also tell you if they see something you can’t. The best of friends will give good counsel if it’s time for you to seek more formal support from your GP or health visitor, and there’s no shame in that. It’s happened to many of us, and you needn’t suffer it alone.

Charlotte Edun has run The Good Birth Practice in Sevenoaks since 2014. She has 3 young children – each born after very different labours – and is not so much a birth junkie, as a women’s power junkie. She’s quite convinced that if men had uterus’s or grew placenta’s there’d be monuments to them on every street corner. Because of this, she’s committed to helping women find their own, unique,  good birth experience.

Mothering the Mother – honouring stillness with kindness

9th February 2018

A guest post by Charlotte Edun
Birth Coach, The Good Birth Practice

Life before motherhood

Stillness is one of the hardest skills for many new mothers to acquire. We spend so much of our 20s & early 30s in a dash through life. Accruing new experiences, new friendships & new achievements at a breakneck pace. In a blaze of colour, blurry photographs and no less hazy memories, it’s a joyful round of friends, parties & weddings. We learn to plan, and to actively fill our work & personal lives with undertakings & exploits that are fruitful, in one way or another.  Promotions, successes and celebrations. It’s hectic. Exhausting. Fantastic.

Which means being still, being responsive & reactive, may not be a mode we are familiar with.

In those days, stillness was a balm. Recovery from the hurly burly. Do you remember those days? Booking spa days with girlfriends, for the simple indulgent pleasure of ‘me-time’. Duvet days, when Buffy the Vampire SlayerDawson’s Creek and a bacon sandwich were the perfect accompaniment to a Sunday morning wind-down. A yoga class, an exhibition, a gallery, or a quiet walk and lunch in a pub.

Life with a newborn

So when this new thing enters our lives – mothering – when we have to subvert our needs to another, and retreat, it can be hard. With a new baby, the stillness is not quite on our terms. It is a stillness enforced. Despite the proximity of little bodies for so many hours of the day and night. Despite our bodies becoming public property (to be considered, discussed & fed from). The peace can become silence, and the stillness can become stultifying.

The truth is that this wonderful new phase can be so great a passion, and also – simultaneously and not exclusively – so great a trial.

The stillness of mothering can bring a tension that comes not so much from doing, but from not doing. It’s all too easy, from our newly inhabited groove in the sofa, with the babe on the boob (or bottle), to think of all the things we are not doing. To ponder on what our child-free friends & colleagues are doing. Or, worse, the freedom our husbands & partners enjoy. The time, the quiet, the lack of active endeavour; they’re vacuums for previously active minds to wander in.

There are new-mother friends, of course, but they are just that; new. And they too are making sense of this strange new world, where calm and hysteria are seconds apart, and where deepest love and darkest despair co-exist.

Mothering the Mother

What do new mothers need? ‘Mothering the mother’ is a phrase I first heard when I was training as a birth coach, and it’s a precious one to me. It’s a skill I think we’ve lost – as we fetishise pregnancy, birth & infancy, the needs of new mothers can be lost. It’s easy to forget that they need to hear kindness. Acknowledgement that while giving birth can be your proudest achievement, it does not come without cost. Everyone benefits from kind words and support. Sometimes, just knowing you are thought of is enough to boost your spirits. Solidarity from other women, who have experienced the same, and recognise the highs and lows of mothering infants is gold.

Charlotte Edun has run The Good Birth Practice in Sevenoaks since 2014. She has 3 young children – each born after very different labours – and is not so much a birth junkie, as a women’s power junkie. She’s quite convinced that if men had uterus’s or grew placenta’s there’d be monuments to them all over the world. Because of this, she’s committed to helping women find their own, unique good birth experience.


Why should I read to my little one?

20 December 2017

Written by Holly Edlin, Head Teacher, Gymboree Play & Music St Albans

Imagine for a moment you are in a foreign country. You are thirsty and go into a shop to get some water, but no one seems to understand your language, and your attempt at charades isn’t working either. This frustration is how a young child can feel when they are unable to communicate what they need with you. With this in mind, it is vital that we help our children to express themselves in order to fulfil their desires and ensure they grow up happy.

There are an abundance of ways you can help your baby’s language development (including reading from an early age) varying as they grow and need further challenge. Here at Gymboree Play & Music St Albans, our age specific classes help your little one work on just that!

Play and Learn Level One (0-6 months): Baby Play

What is it?

Baby play is where we sing to our little ones using a few simple signs every week. At Gymboree Play & Music St Albans we use BSL (British sign language) to sing and sign to our babies.

How does it help my child learn?

It may seem a little bizarre to sign to your child, especially as they are just learning to use their eyes. This is half the point however, as it will teach baby to learn how to use their eye and neck muscles, by allowing them to visually track your hands. The main aim of signing to babies is to help them develop a system for non-verbal communication. Remember the point about charades I made in the introduction? If the person in the shop had understood your gestures for water- you would have got what you needed. Baby Play lays the foundation for your baby to eventually be able to communicate easily with you before they can speak. It is also much easier to remember a word if you add a sign with it, therefore improving baby’s memory and both their receptive and expressive vocabulary. Your baby has been listening to your voice since before they were born, so singing to them whilst we do this activity is greatly comforting and encourages bonding.

Play and Learn Level Two (6- 10 months): Baby Boogies

What is it?

As a warm up for our Level Two Play & Learn class, we combine popular nursery rhymes and Gymboree Play & Music songs with some simple actions to help with body awareness and memory as well as language.

How does it help my child learn?

Singing to your child is vital for language development. Not only are you showing them example of language by using it towards them, but you are doing it in a way that is varied and interesting for them to listen to. Children learn a lot through absorbing things in the world around them (unlike adults who need to be a bit more active when learning), and just by listening to the rhythm and pitch of a song, they learn how to structure a sentence. The dance moves develop their body awareness as well as socialising them as they look at other babies whilst they dance!

Play and Learn Level Three (10-16 months): Airlog Push

What is it?

Practising their walking skills alongside each other, this activity works on a multitude of things, including language development.

How does it help my child learn?

Children of this age can communicate well with their favourite adults, but need a bit more encouragement to play with and gesture to other children. Partaking in the same activities next to each other (parallel play)- a vital step before they start to play co-operatively, and is vital to help them grow socially. We also sing a specific song as the children do the Airlog Push, which they begin to learn and associate with this activity.

Play and Learn Level 4 (16-22 months): Bilateral Themes

What is it?

We take opposites, and repeat them throughout class whilst doing activities: teaching them the meaning of abstract concepts- but also teaching them how to say the word. For example ‘Fast and Slow’ might be used for several activities such as rolling a ball (fast and slow), walking (fast or slow), and tapping (fast and slow).

How does it help my child learn?

It is very easy to show your child a ball and tell them that it is a ball. But how do you teach them the meaning of and abstract word such as ‘under’? By pairing it with ‘over’ and showing them what both words mean, you make both words clearer to understand by using the obvious contrast. Repetition is key at this age, which is why we do it so much in this level. The more you repeat, the more they will begin to understand and then eventually repeat it back to you. Children need a lot of examples before they are even ready to begin to master anything themselves. We also change our words every two weeks, so they get plenty of time to begin to learn the words.

Play and Learn Level 5 (22-28 months): Rainbow Rope

What is it?

Our Gymboree Play & Music opening ritual each week that takes the children through our movement core, followed by a colour recognition game.

How does it help my child learn?

Colours are very difficult for children to learn! They need lots of practise to tell the difference between shades and remember the words. Every week they will also be forced to recognise and say a different colour (unless of course, they have a favourite!) They are at the age now where they are pretty good at communicating, but they may not be confident in speaking outside of the home. This activity gets the children actively listening to others answers (another important skill) and speaking in front of a group of their peers.

Play and Learn Level 6 (28- 55months): Open Ended Questions

What is it?

What did you do today? What did you eat for lunch? How did you get here? Then you have follow up questions too, all based around their lives and within recent memory so children are able to answer confidently – or make up a hilarious and imaginative answer!

How does it help my child learn?

It makes them think. It makes them use and strengthen their memory. They are now at the point where they can say all of these things and use proper sentences, but they still need loads of practise. This simple activity gives them that, whether they need a little prompting and correcting or not.