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.

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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.

Growing your family in a small space

Shortly after her son was born, Kristen made a big move to a big city—and she’s loving every minute of it.

“We moved into a studio apartment in New York City when our baby was a month old,” Kristen said. “I thought raising a baby in a new city would get lonely, but he’s now ten months, starting to walk, and we are loving life.”

Kristen said her initial concerns about loneliness came from hearing so many stories about new moms getting depressed just after giving birth.

“I think it’s partly because they are alone a lot,” she said. “You bring home this baby. It’s just you and your husband, and maybe your husband’s working.”

“My mother-in-law’s a shopper, and while she was still here, we went shopping a lot. It was great practice for getting out on my own with him,” she said. “After she left, I would take him shopping in the city, laying him on a blanket in the dressing rooms as I tried on clothes, and then I would go eat lunch by myself with him.”

One major adjustment Kristen had to make was living in a small space.

“Since we’re in a studio, he’s always right next to me,” she said. On the one hand, she said, living in a small space has limited her son in ways that other babies might not be, such as not having a lot of toys and extra things.

“With your first child, you want him to have everything, but we only have space for the basics,” she explained. “We’ve done our best to fit in things that other babies have—a full-sized crib, a walker and lots of small toys.”

On the other hand, Kristen’s found she doesn’t have to do the same kind of baby-proofing that’s necessary in a house. She put in protectors for the plugs, and latches, and locks for the cabinets, but said she hasn’t had to do much more than that.

Check out these links to hear how other mommies make it work.

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Some Friendly Advice
Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris have been in various stages of pregnancy or new momdom for 5 years running. The two friends created a go-to site offering decent, open-minded and agenda-free advice at The New Mom.

Where did YOU go?
See what Capessa blogger and mother of three Erin Monroe does in her spare time at Finding Yourself.

Mission Impossible
Give up on being mother of the year (they think you already are) and relish in your perfect flaws at Imperfect Parent.

Organized Chaos
Working moms can make it work. Visit Mommytrack’d for multitasking tools, comic relief and relevant news tips.

Make Baby Stuff
The best how-to-resources for your baby’s homemade lifestyle! This site has tips, tutorials, articles and instructions for everything from how to make your own nursery bedding to making handmade baby toys.