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.

Messages from Mom

Amber’s mom had her first child at 17, second at 19, and third at 23–all girls. The year after she left her husband, she made $12,000 with three kids, all in daycare, all under the age of ten.

“My mom is probably the most inspiring, heroic person I have ever met in my life, and not just because she is my mom,” said Amber. “I have no idea how she managed to keep us all fed and clothed and, most importantly, feeling happy and loved.”

Amber remembers a handwritten note that her mom kept taped to her makeup mirror, where she could read it every morning.  It said, I am the mountain I climb, and although that sentiment was lost on the three little girls in the house, as they grew up they realized how important their mom’s messages were.

When she was eight, Amber’s mom brought home a poster for her one day and Amber taped it to her bedroom wall. “I would read it every single night. It said, ‘Be patient with yourself. Grow in your own way, in your own time.'”

What Amber didn’t know about that seemingly innocent poster was that it was subconsciously working its way into her brain. It was one of the best messages her mom had given her.

“My mom is right there, telling me that the bad is part of the good, and that it’s all beautiful, as beautiful as it is awful,” she said. “She makes me trust that the universe is good, even though parts of it suck. She helps me believe in myself and that I am perfect the way that I am.”

Aren’t moms the best? For more inspiring women, visit the blogher network.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

The Power of Female Bonds
This powerful online journal explores female friendships and relationships and gives advice on how to hold on to your important female bonds.

It’s All Relative
Still having issues with your mother decades since your teen years? Try Relate

Know Thyself
Need an explanation for why you are turning into your mother or why you just can’t understand why your son won’t change the toilet paper roll? Explore The Female Brain by Dr. Louann Brizendine for answers hidden in your cells.

Escape to the Blogosphere
Canadian mom Michelle escapes from her life full of teenagers in this online journal.