Towards the end of last year I began realizing I needed to get out of the house more. Up until then, about the only time Emme and I left the house is when we needed to run errands. I knew I needed to find some activities for us to do that didn’t include spending money or accumulating stuff. And frankly, I was dying to make connections with other mothers.
Motherhood can be so lonely. Friendships change out of necessity and since most of my best friends live out of town, much of our relationships transpire virtually. But you can only spend so much time with your little one before you need social interaction with someone whose vocabulary expands farther than dadadada. Plus, Emme is never around other children (except for her younger aunt) and I know in order to make this year’s transition to daycare a little easier, she needs to socialize.
So, I got online and started researching “mommy and me” programs in Jacksonville. A friend of mine regularly talks about taking her daughter to story time at the Jacksonville Public Library so I looked up the details. We made plans to meet her at the Willowbranch location in Murray Hill for Music & Movement, a program for children ages 0 to 5 that includes songs, stories, and instruments.
Emme and I were both apprehensive about our first visit. Emme was very quiet, sitting on the floor taking in all the new sights and sounds, but she seemed to enjoy herself. I noticed most of the moms looked to be around my age and a few of them chatted with me, though I haven’t made any real connections yet aside from the friend I mentioned earlier.
The children’s section of the Willowbranch library includes a brightly colored mat with foam blocks, bead mazes, and other floor toys. The Music & Movement program takes place in an adjacent room with lots of space to move around and a projector screen for videos, usually kid’s singalongs on Youtube. Parents are encouraged to sing and dance with their children. Simple musical instruments like maracas and tambourines are passed around. (Emme likes the egg shaped maracas so much, she got a set for Christmas.) A couple of storybooks are read aloud and they briefly go over letters or numbers. The program moves quickly in short chunks that helps to keep the children focused.
We have been to Music & Movement at Willowbranch a few times and even tried Stories for Young Children at the San Marco branch. The program at Willowbranch seems to be more organized but being able to easily walk from the San Marco branch to Bold Bean for a chai latte has it’s perks for mama. Stories for Young Children is very similar to Music & Movement with stories, music, and dancing but the program takes place in the actual children’s section versus a separate space.
The Jacksonville Public Library offers programs for children of all ages at most of the branches. I plan to try out a few more to see which one fits best with our lifestyle and holds Emme’s interest. You can find more information about the programs and schedules at jaxpubliclibrary.org. And if you’re local and ever interested in meeting up with Emme and I, let me know! We would love to see you there.