How Bookstart Rhymetimes helped me become the mother I am

Published on: 02 November 2017 Author: Charlotte Rowland

Mum Charlotte Rowland reveals the massive difference Bookstart Rhymetimes have made to her life - and why she believes they've helped her become a better mother.

Charlotte Rowland's son

I attended my first Rhymetime when my son was around four months old. It was that time when you're just starting to get your head around being a parent and I was ready to start venturing out a bit more.

He has always been a really alert and active baby and I was finding it hard to entertain him in the house day in, day out. Don't get me wrong - I love being a mother and adore my son, but sometimes the days are long! I found it helped to have even just one thing to be able to work the day around.

I had arranged to meet a new friend who had a daughter the same age as my son, and Rhymetime was the perfect place to catch up. It was welcoming, fun and the babies adored it. We all loved it so much that we started going every week – and told all our friends about it too! We got into a lovely routine of going along to Rhymetime and then having a coffee and a chat afterwards.

Charlotte Rowland's son

'A complete saviour'

There have been weeks where Rhymetime has been a complete saviour and gives us all the chance to chat, debrief and de-stress. Inevitably one of us will always arrive flustered and stressed after having a terrible night - it's nice to be able to share that, laugh about it all and swap notes. I always leave feeling good, especially when my son is tired and happy after playing, learning and laughing for over an hour!

The set-up is brilliant - there's always some playing to begin with to stimulate the babies, and I saw my son develop in front of my eyes.

He crawled, stood and took his first step at Rhymetime – I think it was because he could see other babies doing the same and he is always so stimulated during a session.

I am always amazed at how engaged the babies are – my son always used to stay awake for the whole session, even when he was tiny. As he's grown, it has been lovely keeping this routine, and he's got to know all the songs and the other babies that attend. He's started doing some of the actions now, too.

I think my heart actually burst when he held my hands and started doing 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'!

One week, my son was enjoying himself so much he laughed the entire session - and he set everyone else off giggling too! He wanted to be so close to our Rhymetime host Tina that he crawled over and hopped up on her knee. Everyone was in hysterics because he was giggling so loudly with that lovely infectious baby belly-laugh as he 'Zoom, Zoom, Zoomed to the Moon'.

How Rhymetime helped my son to love books

The storytime and songs are brilliant and have helped to foster a real love of books in my son. Now he's eleven months old, he doesn't like playing with toys half as much as he loves to read, and he will spend long parts of every day playing with and turning the pages of his books.

Charlotte Rowland's son

I hadn't used a library for years and it's really got us all back in the doors and rediscovering our love of books. I take my son every week to swap his books over and now he loves to crawl over to the baby books and choose his own for us to read together.

Bringing communities together

The thing that I've found particularly helpful about Rhymetimes has been all the extra little bits of advice and knowledge that have really given me the confidence and tools to be a better mother, such as tips about the different songs to use to calm a baby down, distract him or lift his mood. Tina is so experienced and always offers these nuggets of advice and support.

For me, it's also given us a safe and friendly environment to meet other mothers and carers, and the support from the local community is enormous. I bump into other families in the street or supermarket now and it's lovely to catch up. It's really drawn me into the area and has made us feel really settled and part of the community.

I owe a lot to Rhymetime - it has made me the mother I am now.

I believe that I am more patient, fun and engaged with my son because of the songs and mothering skills I have picked up along the way. I feel more connected with our local community and have had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends because of these groups. It is a fantastic resource, and one I am incredibly grateful for!

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