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.

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Potty Training: Proof that every child is different!

Sheree knows a thing or two about potty training. She ought to… after all, she’s been through it five times.

Teaching her daughters (ages 7, 6, 5 and 3-year-old twins) to use the potty taught Sheree that when it comes to potty training, one thing’s for certain: “Every child is different.”

Each of her daughters, she said, has a different personality, and consequently, each had a different learning experience.

“My oldest child caught on pretty quickly,” Sheree said. “It just came pretty easily for her, and she wanted to go to the bathroom. I would give her directions, and she would follow them pretty well. My other girls took more time.”

Although each girl presented a different challenge, Sheree came up with a basic set of rules to help her daughters potty train.

  • Getting them comfortable on the potty is the first step.

To make their daughters comfortable, Sheree and her husband bought them a potty top. Now when they get ready to go to the bathroom, they put their potty top on and feel less afraid they’ll fall, she said.

  • Siblings can be great motivators.

“Potty training my twins was a little easier because their big sisters were helping them,” Sheree noted. “Their sisters were great when it came to celebrating.”

Sheree said they didn’t do anything too big because they wanted the girls to know that using the toilet was expected; still, she wanted them to know that she and her husband were proud of them. So, anytime they went, Sheree told all of the girls to go into the bathroom and clap.

“That seemed to be a good reinforcement for us, especially with all their sisters saying, ‘You’re a big girl.’ They liked that,” she said.

  • Staying dry through the night takes getting up during the night.

Sheree offered two tips if you’re having problems in the middle of the night with bedwetting: always wake up in the middle of the night and take them at least once, and don’t give them anything to drink late.

  • Accidents happen.

“We didn’t have too many accidents, but when we did, they would just come tell me,” Sheree said. After one night out resulted in her daughter sporting pee pants, she learned to always pack an extra pair of clothes. Even if you think they’ve got it down, they might forget about the potty when they’re not at home.

  • Be patient and consistent and you’ll be successful.

“Patience is key when you’re potty training,” said Sheree. “Your child will need to get used to using the potty, and you’re not going to know what to do when you first start training them, so it’s important to be patient. You also have to be consistent. Be consistent in taking them to the bathroom and in whatever your form of underwear or diapers that you put on them.”

Sheree suggests creating a routine to help them get the hang of it and help you stay consistent.

For advice from other potty training moms and even printable toilet-time activities to share with your toddler, the experts at Pampers offer advice at Let’s Talk Potty Training. Also, check out these other resources.

Toddler Terror
About.com’s resident pediatrician teaches you the best ways to deal with your formerly-sweet bundle of joy.

Productive Parenting
From infants to young adults and everything tween, Parenting.org offers tips and advice to help your child be all you wish you could have been and all she is capable of.

The Twos and Threes
Parenting Toddlers gives you useful tips on everything from maximizing your baby’s safety to avoiding mommy burnout.

Mothering Mayhem
See what Capessa blogger and mother of three Erin Monroe does in her spare time at Finding Yourself.

3 Easy Ways I Beat the Terrible Twos

Virginia learned all about the “terrible twos” after living through them with her daughter Mika.

“Since she started walking, everything has to be out of her reach,” she said. “She’s broken my laptop and my cell phone. Everything has to be really cinched up and baby-proofed and out of her grasp.”

As Virginia’s honed her mommy reflexes to save her toddler from ultimate destruction, she’s been amazed at how something so young can be so fearless.

“The terrible twos are not a myth; they’re complete reality,” she said. “As they get older and start to walk and talk, they also learn to start running and back-talking.”

Here are some words of wisdom from Virginia to get you through the terrible twos:

1. Don’t overreact.

“I try not to squash her behavior too much. I know that it’s part of development. I keep telling myself that it’s a natural phase and kind of let her do what she wants to do, to some extent. If she wants to sit and bang on a pot, that’s fine. I can’t get hung up on that.”

2. Think outside the “blocks.”

“We had had all these wooden blocks for her. And she throws blocks, so it’s painful. Then I found foam blocks at the store, and it was like somebody had turned on the light. These things are the best. She can throw ’em all she wants, and they don’t hurt and break things.”

3. Keep your eyes open every day.

“You can read about the terrible twos in a book, but it’s not the same as going through it and living it. I mean, as a mother, as you go through it, it’s a learning experience every day. And I think that more than anything, just being there and being part of it is the way to experience it.”

Virginia was 34 when she entered motherhood, and she readily admits that even after waiting she still felt apprehensive and nervous. But now, living every day trying to keep curiosity from raining destruction upon her home, she feels settled in being a mom.

“Even the terrible twos certainly aren’t terrible. They’re just different,” she said. “It’s an awesome thing to be a parent. It’s just amazing. It’s different every day.”

Need a place where parents can exercise their minds and get together to discuss and debate the topics that affect our lives? Check out The Imperfect Parent. The Internet is teeming with parent resouces, you just need to know where to look. Start with these links:

Toddler Terror
About.com’s resident pediatrician teaches you the best ways to deal with your formerly-sweet bundle of joy.

Productive Parenting
From infants to young adults and everything tween, Parenting.org offers tips and advice to help your child be all you wish you could have been and all she is capable of.

The Twos and Threes
Parenting Toddlers gives you useful tips on everything from maximizing your baby’s safety to avoiding mommy burnout.

Dishing it Out
Taking parenting too seriously is not something Heather Armstrong does. Experience the adventures of a Stay-at-Home-Mom whose honesty and human error is as hilarious as motherhood ought to be.