Making playtime for parents out of playdates with children

Wouldn’t it be great if going out for family time was not punctuated with meltdowns or dirty looks from other non-baby couples?

Lambeth thinks so. That’s why she created Parent P-L-A-Y, a way for families to spend time together where kids can be kids and adults can be adults.

As an older mom who had wanted a child for a long time, Lambeth found the first year of her son’s life was full of adrenaline and excitement. As an adjunct professor of journalism at NYU and a long-time journalist and contributor to such publications as the New York Post, Marie Claire and Redbook, Lambeth was used to grown up interaction. While she relished playing with her son, she also wanted to maintain adult conversations.

“When a child turns one, things really change,” Lambeth said. “As soon as they’re mobile, it’s a totally different kind of exhaustion. You have to summon the creative forces in your life. You have to start thinking about arts and crafts, and you have to start thinking about going to the playground and having a really good time and making sure that they’re having fun. That’s a really big change.”

Charter members of Citibabes, a family club in SoHo, and sleep-deprived zombies, Lambeth and her husband wished someone would start organizing events for parents that also included kids. With that goal in mind, they gave birth to Parent P-L-A-Y.

Parent P-L-A-Y events are unique and different. The goal is to redefine how families spend time together. Parents know there is an adjacent space — everyone’s under the same roof, whether it’s at a restaurant or a comedy club — so they know that they can always just go check in on their child and see that they’re having a great time. They can relax.

“We don’t want people to come in and talk down to our parents, like, ‘You should potty train this way,’ or, ‘This is the right way to go from formula to solid food,’” Lambeth said. “That’s not what we offer parents. There’s so much of that out there already. We’re more about pampering the parents and getting them to tap into their feelings and tap into their need for just chilling out.”

Parent P-L-A-Y has received letters from parents all over the country saying, “We’ve read about you,” or, “We heard about Parent P-L-A-Y. When are you coming to our city?”

Because New York-based Lambeth can’t be everywhere at once, she’s offering some suggestions for parents who need to practice the art of enjoying family time.

1. Connect with other parents.

Try co-oping child care or creating a network of neighbors where they all get to know the kids and share babysitting duties. Make sure there’s a trust factor, of course, but if you can find a way to create community within your own area, you’ll feel more at home.

2. Find rest and relaxation with your spouse.

Give each other the time and space to regroup. It has nothing to do with how much you love your child; there comes a point for every parent when you’re just exhausted. Give yourself and your spouse a little time off and you’ll be better parents when you return to the job.

3. Create a common interest.

Find something you love working on together with your spouse. That shared interest will actually make you stronger. You’ll discover talents or insights you didn’t realize you had and uncover aspects of your partner you never knew about too.

Lambeth and her husband Brian saw a need and they used their creativity and innovative talents to fill that need in the community. Get connected and find out more about parent P-L-A-Y events.

If you are not so lucky to be in New York City to enjoy Parent P-L-A-Y, check out Imperfect Parent, a website created for parents to talk freely and openly without big brother watching. The lovely folks have gathered articles and columns written by parents like yourself, designed to share parenting experiences, to make you think, and make you laugh.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Let’s PLAY!
If you live in the New York area and are looking for something new to do with your kids, check out Parent P-L-A-Y, Lambeth and her husband Brian’s social solution for big city parents.

Mom Community!
CafeMom is focused on creating a great site for moms that is somewhere they can come to get advice, feel supported, make friends or just relax.

Mom-to-Mom
The mommies network is dedicated to helping moms find support and friendship in their local community.