Heather van Mil is the General Manager of Gymboree Play and Music in Vancouver and on the North Shore. While Gymboree has been providing developmental play, music and arts programs for 35 years, Heather has been with the company for the last six of them. Heather and her husband live in North Vancouver with their two-and-half year old “teacher in training”!
Favorite thing for your kids
My daughter and I would agree that (aside from Gymboree of course) the Aquarium is her favourite thing right now. She got a membership for her birthday and we average about once a week there. At 2 1/2 she can name most of the animals she sees, and never gets tired of the shows! Currently the Marmoset is her favourite with the new baby!
Favorite thing for you
A piano. Give me some uninterrupted music time and I’m happy!
Favorite thing for work
An interested and involved parent! Teachers can interest a lot of children, but nothing engages and teaches a child more than watching and participating with a parent. Parents need to give themselves permission to leave it all behind when they come through our doors and be silly!
Favorite place in Vancouver
That’s a tricky one – so many favourites. Our current go to places are Ambleside Beach and Lighthouse Park. It really depends on the level of activity. We usually have picnic dinners most sunny days in the summer at the beach, but when we’re looking to get out some energy, hiking at Lighthouse Park can’t be beat!
Favorite birthday gift idea
I’m all about experiences over things. Kids accumulate so much stuff and half of it never gets used (or the box is more interesting!). Programs like Gymboree are a great present to both the child and the parent. They get out of the house, expending energy and learning in a fun way! We’ve got so many extra play times aside from the class – for no additional fee – that many parents spend up to 10 hours a week with us! Other memberships like the Vancouver Aquarium or Science World are fantastic too. You get so much for your money’s worth.
Favorite Vancouver restaurant
Arms Reach Bistro in Deep Cove is my absolute fave for girls night out. With kids, I love market places like Granville Island or Lonsdale Quay where there is an amazing selection of food, space to run and a great view!
Favorite kids’ book
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I cannot get through it without tearing up. Honourable mentions also go to Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. For humour (aside from classic Robert Munsch) I can’t get enough of Say Please Louise by Phil Roxbee Cox. The whole Usborne “cautionary tale” series is hilarious for children and adults while teaching about manners.